Written by Melanie Blow of New York
We don’t all know each other’s names on my block, but I think everyone knew Becky, and knew who to go to when they saw her in their yard. She was a lab-sized, long-furred sweetheart, mostly black with brown and white markings. She seemed determined to give Houdini a run for his money, even though she never seemed to do anything with her ill-gotten freedom besides amble down the sidewalk, making new friends and “giving” a collar to anyone who tried to leash her up and bring her back to her owner’s house.
I worked an evening shift that ended at 12:30 AM. A few days before Christmas in 2006, I was driving home from work in a cold rain when I saw Becky trotting down a four-lane road that, by day, is one of the major arteries of the city. I pulled into the turning lane and opened the passenger door, calling her name. Nothing. I parked the car, got out and she ran through the driver’s side door and lay down on the pedals. I worked my fingers under a whole lot of wet, smelly dog fur in order to lift her up and over into the passenger area. I took her back to my house — I wasn’t going to knock on the door of a neighbor I didn’t really know at 1 AM. Once home, I herded my dogs upstairs and secured them there with a baby-gate, since I didn’t know if Becky had her shots. I moved my dogs’ dishes upstairs, gave Becky some food and water of her own, and went upstairs. Within minutes she was crying. I slept on the couch that night, with Becky alternating between sleeping on my legs and under my left hand as it hung off the couch.
Becky woke up at sunrise, and made sure I did too. I slipped the collar she “gave me” over her head, leashed her up and led her outside. As soon as we got out, she lifted her leg on the first tree we saw. As she irrigated each one on my street, I wondered which was more likely — naming a male dog “Becky,” or a female dog learning to lift her leg. As we turned the corner and approached her house, a quick glance revealed the real Becky frolicking in the morning sun, safely secured in her yard. So I let “Beck” finish his irrigation duties, and did what any self-respecting dog-walker would do — I walked around the corner, and back home.
Let me defend my intelligence here. It was dark when I picked “Beck” up, it was dark when I got him home, and as sweet as he was, I don’t touch any dog “down there” needlessly. “Beck” had very long fur. Becky’s shed collar fit “Beck” perfectly, and what are the odds of having two dogs who appear to be lab/Burmese Mountain Dog crosses in the same neighborhood?
I toyed with the idea of keeping “Beck” while I searched for his owners, but my niece had been hospitalized the day before, and I wanted to visit her. That meant I wouldn’t be able to monitor Beck with my two dogs, nor maintain a strict quarantine. So I called the city pound. The man who took him from me was beguiled with him, and had no doubt that if his owners didn’t claim him, he would get adopted out. I am very proud to live in a county with a major, award-winning shelter and a very organized system of pet foster care and smaller “overflow” shelters. I have no doubt that “Beck’s” story had a happy ending, even if I couldn’t write the last chapter.