Let me tell you about my best friend. His name is Dodger and he‘s 10 years old. We met for the first time at a farmer's market and have been inseparable almost ever since.
I had just moved in with my girlfriend at the time, and on this particular day, she had persuaded me to go on a cheese spread run to the Silverlake Farmer's market. It was a particularly warm March day and we wandered around the market for a bit. As we approached the cheese stand we heard someone yelling out "free puppies, free puppies!"
Walking over, though, I had to be clear, "we can‘t get a dog, we just moved in together, let’s play with them, but we can’t get one." She agreed.
As the woman greeted us, the adult dog came to do the same. I will never forget the lick on the nose she gave me, because (spoiler alert) I get the very same nose lick from her son almost every day.
She explained that a few weeks ago she had come across the very pregnant mama in an alley near her house. She took her in just in time for her to give birth to 5 puppies a day later.
These little guys had narrowly escaped being born on the street, the lucky dogs. As we took stock of the pups, we noticed 4 of them playing with each other, rolling around and doing what puppies do, all of them mostly black with some spots.
Then we noticed the outlier. He looked totally different from his brothers and sisters, ginger with freckles and big tufts of white. He was mushed down at the front corner of the truck keeping a lookout on the market. He was cute. Damn was he cute.
We played with him and he was happy to get the attention and wagged his tail. It‘s hard to remember exactly how long we were there, but at one point my girlfriend looked at me and didn’t have to say a word.
“We can‘t though," I said, "it‘s just not the right time." She reluctantly agreed and we dragged ourselves away. The woman gave us her card though, just in case we changed our minds. She knew.
Two days later, at home, as I sat at my computer, Adria walked up to me and said simply “I can‘t stop thinking about that puppy." "Yeah, I can‘t either,“ I replied without hesitation. And that was that. She called the woman who confirmed she still had the little guy. She said he was a good choice.
The next day she brought him over and as we approached the truck he barked. “He just learned that," she said, a little embarrassed. We thanked her and took our new little friend up to our place.
I made a small crate area for him on our little deck and left him some blankets. He seemed a little disoriented but I knew he‘d be ok sooner or later.
After some attempted naming missteps, one day it hit me like a bolt of lightning, Dodger would be his name. We lived within walking distance of Dodger Stadium, we had moved from New York just like the Dodgers had, and they were even my dad‘s favorite team growing up. It was perfect.
A little over a year later, my mom started to get sick and I decided to head home to Atlanta to try to help out; It wasn‘t even a question if I‘d take him.
My girlfriend agreed and didn‘t feel she could take care of him on her own anyway. Sadly we ended up splitting up during that time and he naturally stayed with me.
Dodger turned out to be such a special dog. For me growing up, between two pet-friendly households, I had around 6 dogs and I loved each of them dearly. I can honestly say though that not one of those lovely animals even came close to having the personality, intelligence, and dedication he has.
He learns the sounds of my friend’s cars after one or two visits. It‘s amazing. He learned how to fetch in 6 months. He makes up his own games by himself and sometimes brings me in.
When he looks at you, he will make eye contact till you break it. He has almost human eyes in their expression and he understands more words than any dog I‘ve ever been around. He sleeps in until I get up, this I am told is extremely unique in a pet. Lucky me.
People often ask what his breed is and the truth is I have no idea. I‘ve gotten suggestions from hundreds of people and there is definitely some working dog and some hunting dog in there, but who knows really. What I do know is his mother was 25 lbs and he is 55 lbs. He had a big papa, whoever that guy was.
Dodger has been the best adventure buddy. He has driven cross country with me 5 times. He‘s been to the mountains and the snow and he‘s been to the beach and everything in between. I was shocked to see how excited he gets to just run in deep snow. He‘s played with coyotes (their Idea, not his). He‘s been a New York City dog. He‘s done it all.
I often wonder what Dodger‘s life and mine would have been like if his mother had chosen a different alley that day. It‘s amazing to think how different my life could be if she had. I‘m very glad about the way things happened. I hope dodger is too.
Check out Storyteller Alex's article about her experience with stray animals in her home and around the world!
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