We found a dog in the park. Me and Nikol, and this other girl. Walking in the middle of Elysian Park on this long dirt road, we saw in the distance what looked like a gigantic coyote or a small bear stumbling drunkenly around, digging up shit, and eating sticks. Getting closer it was just a huge German shepherd. Little beat up but a handsome beast, and with a collar on, so we figured some jerkoff would come jogging up the road behind his Gestapo enforcement dog that he’d let roam free in a public space frequented by small children.
But no. No one came. And getting a closer look at the dog he’d been fucked up by something. Patches of fur falling off, walking funny, and the top half of both ears were missing. Like he’d tangled with something that had bitten them off; they were just lumpy black skin scabbed over.
So someone lost their dog and it got in the park and got mauled by some coyote and now the poor guy is staggering around dehydrated and deranged. So we figured we’d stick with him, figure out whose he was, bring him back, and be heroes. The nonthreatening waifish girl we were with got a hold of him and we found out the tag on his collar just had a city license number on it. Well, no problem, right? There’s a reason they put serial numbers on these things; they must go into some database so you can easily figure out who a lost dog belongs to. You must be able to use newfangled tools such as “the phone” or “the internet” to get a name and phone number and give him back no problem. But of course not; of course that information isn’t readily available; instead it’s welcome to the City of Los Angeles Department Of Animal Control; para Espanol marque el numero “dos.” If you have an emergency where human life is threatened please hang up and dial 911; if you’d like to pay a fine via credit card please press 3, if you’d like to pay for a license fee via credit card please press 4, if you’d like to give us money this way press 5, if you’d like to give us money this way press 6…. ad inifinitum. Web site is the same shit; no way to track down a license.
So instead we just stood there in the dirt road waiting for people to walk by and maybe it was their dog. Or maybe they saw someone who was looking for a dog. Nope. Eventually a group of stroller-pushing organic farmers’ market type yuppies walked by though and were kind of glaring at us. We figured it was because we were holding the hulked out version of Hitler’s dog in the middle of a public park without a leash and it was clearly capable of snatching one of their babies out of its restraints and making a break for it with the sweet, squirming flesh. But no.
We were like “hey, did you see anyone looking for a dog?” And the most organic farmers’ market looking dude among them stepped forward and said no, but that dog you have there has been abused. His ears are gone because of a parasite. Someone has neglected the shit out of this dog, and whoever did it is an unfathomable monster and etc. His face struck a perfect balance of righteous anger, compassion and concern, and at that moment a mournful tune by Sarah McLachlan was carried on the wind. Whoever owns this dog, he must never go back.
Well shit. OK, that’s one opinion. I mean, the dog is wandering out in the park; maybe he’s underweight because he hasn’t eaten, and maybe his ears are chewed off because a dumpster lid slammed shut on them when he was going after some discarded tortillas.
Eventually we ran into someone who told us that if we went to the organic dog treat selling boutique pet shop up the block they could scan him for a chip. Great. Off we go. We had gotten a leash from my neighbor and took the dog down there. And, he was great on the leash. This half-starved and mangled animal bred over thousands of generations to be a perfect killing machine was perfectly content to be lassoed by a group of strangers and head off into strange territory for God knows what reason. By then we had christened him “Kenny.” Because, when you find a strange, beautiful animal who is completely unflappable despite his dark abusive history, you name him after Kenny Rogers.
So we got to the dog store and explained the situation and the woman, the owner, could not have been nicer. But she too took one look at the dog and was like “no way there’s a chip in this dog. I see this shit all the time; this dog has never been inside. He’s got flystrike on his ears, which is when dogs are left out and blowflies lay eggs in their ear tissue and just continually feed on the scabs and lay more eggs until the ears are just bloody stumps. And the patchy fur is his undercoat coming off; you’re supposed to brush these dogs in the summer and he’s never been brushed in his life; and he’s dramatically underweight, and etc. Whoever had this dog didn’t care about him; No way there’s a chip.” And of course she scans the dog with her grocery store price checker and lo and behold, it returns a result, which she the calls Avid about; they provide a name and phone number. And a name for the dog. The dog’s name was “Baby G.”
Well shit. So, it is someone’s dog. It is someone’s dog and sure they let half his ears get eaten off by blowflies but maybe there’s some little kid crying because his big friendly pet grizzly bear Baby G wandered off into the park and maybe they think he starved to death and is never coming home.
But no. The woman got conspiratorial. I see this shit all the time, she said. People get these big tough dogs to keep people out of the yard and just chain them up and ignore them. This dog was never let in the house and spent all his days chained up on concrete and the family probably just went broke and cut him loose to starve to death. Or he got off his chain and was like “fuck this, I’m out of here.” This woman was of Hispanic extraction herself, but there was a little sting of racism in the way she was saying it. Felt like these Mexicans get a badass looking dog to guard their fucking broken washing machine and just cut it loose when they can’t afford it. And who names a fucking dog “Baby G—“ Michael Vick? But maybe that’s just what I was thinking.
Anyway, she said, and reached behind her to press “play” on a boom box that was cued to a mournful Sarah McLachlan song, it’s up to you what to do, but whoever owns this dog, he must never go back.
Well shit. So now we have this dog. He’s staying at Nikol’s house but she can’t keep him. We’ve fed him, watered him, brushed him—we pulled a fucking blimp hangar full of undercoat hair off him with the rake brush that the dog store owner kindly provided us for free—we’re about to give him a bath. We’ve been walking around with him; hanging out with him. And here’s the thing about Kenny Rogers. Kenny is built like a mountain lion and has a bite force that could snap a steel beam in half; if you were walking him down the street and shouted “KLAUS: KILL!” everyone within 500 yards would flee for their lives. But my neighbor’s Jack Russell terrier snarled at him and Kenny just stood there, unperturbed. We took him to party, figuring there might be someone there in need of a German Shepherd and a cool sounding rescue story. Kenny, who had been snapped up from half-starved wanderings in the desert not six hours before and had come from a life of being lashed to an ’86 Mazda pickup truck on blocks where he was left to be ravaged by flesh eating insects, wandered about amicably– Kenny Rogers never pulled on the leash, and gently licked the faces of small children who approached him. When night fell the hosts brought out firebreathers for entertainment and this dog who had been pressganged by strangers and had just ridden in a car for what appeared to be the first time and was recovering from days of no food and water– this dog calmly laid down and watched loud flaming explosions happen right next to him with an expression of mild amusement.
Kenny Rogers is a completely calm, trusting, affectionate dog who clearly relishes the company of human beings and has been rigorously trained to not flip out when other dogs come at him. So if he was kept captive by some cactus-eating auto parts hoarder, how did he get this way? Someone, at some point, did something right, but then—half of his fucking ears are gone. We got a bottle of fly repelling ointment for him; were told that would take care of it. So why the fuck didn’t these people do that years ago? What the fuck?
Still. It’s somebody’s dog. Somebody whose name and phone number I have, and I think this person actually lives less than a block away from me. Maybe they want their dog back.
Maybe if I called them they would say: you found our beloved Baby G, we’ve missed him; thank you for bringing him back. In which case I would have to say why the fuck are half his ears missing to a god damn parasite that you could have driven off with a fingerful of Vaseline? If I call them, and they say they want the dog back, I have to give it to them. Or I could make a big case of it, point out that the animal was neglected, get the dog free of these people, but then, have sorely pissed off a guy who lives down the block from me and is the type of person who gets huge dogs to guard his defunct washer/dryer combo that he’s been meaning to repair for five years and probably has a teardrop tattoo under his eye and is built like a fireplug and could take me apart like a chicken wing, and knows where I live after putting down twelve or fourteen Tecates.
But maybe I call him and he says hey, fuck it; you found the dog, take the dog. Maybe we’re free and clear and whoever ends up taking Kenny Rogers doesn’t have to fear the chip being scanned next time he goes to the vet and his awesome new dog being yanked from him and given back to this neglectful teardrop tattooed fireplug in good standing with M13. Who knows.
Anyway. Kenny Rogers. You are a great dog. I wish I could keep you; it’s too bad that you want to eat my cat. But I want to do right by you. What do you want, man. You want to go back to guarding the washer/ dryer? Is there someone in that house who loved you and petted you and was maybe just a little slack putting Vaseline on your ears once in a while? Or do you want to end up with some Sarah McLachlan fan who gets you your shots on time but will probably make you wear a fucking sweater.