For those who read the ‘About Us’ section you know that the dog my husband, Horst, and I adopted shortly after getting married was a chow/retriever named Bo. He was the dog that really changed my life. I didn’t write much about him so I thought it would be fun to share with you how we met, through his eyes, of course. Share your ‘how we met’ story with me. I love stories with happy endings.
Of All The Gin Joints In All The World…
We met back in the early ‘90’s, December of ’92 to be exact. I just had a major blowout with my first, somewhat dysfunctional family and decided that it was best for all if I just left. My foster dad gave me a ride to nowhere and before I knew it, I was at a boarding house in upstate New York. The place was great, warm with plenty of company, and their cheesy poof biscuits were to die for. On the downside, it was loud and smelly, not unlike me.
Even a lowly pug could smell her coming from miles away. It was Monday, as I recall, and the bells on the door jingled to announce her arrival. She was a beautiful blonde with a quick smile and a determined look. We’d seen this type before; they usually left with one of the pure bred puppies, but something was different about this one. My instincts told me that any canine would be darn lucky to go home with a girl like her, so I made it my top priority to be that hound.
She wandered back to where we lived. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed about the condition of the place. Some of my cage mates were not very clean and some even took to pooping where they ate. My next cage neighbor’s lack of etiquette was particularly noteworthy as he took to eating kitty snickers (that’s slang for cat poo in the big house) openly. Sure they taste good, but you’re not getting adopted if you’re seen eating one.
As she came closer to my humble accommodations, I tried everything I could to grab her attention. When she finally got to me I made direct eye contact with her, tilted my oversized cranium at a 45 degree angle and gave her my trademark ‘BoPaw?’ reach.
I could see instantly she wanted me. Needed me. Had to have me. Hey who wouldn’t?
She reached out and petted me with her finely manicured nails. She was clearly enjoying our encounter. How easy these humans are to manipulate, I thought. Her hands were refreshingly cool and her smell put me in a state of delight. I was in love. I could tell she loved me too.
After a few gushing, “He’s so cute!” comments, she, gave me one last look and proceeded on to Pumpkin’s cage.
Realizing I was still sitting there with a half-cocked head and a paw in the air, I felt my muzzle glow red hot under my furry face as the other dogs chuckled with delight. Hey lady, we just made a connection. You can’t move on. Our story ends here if you keep going. But that’s exactly what she did. By the time I regained my bearings, she had moved through the room, out the door and out of my life.
My hope for a better life was gone as quickly as it had come. The brief glimpse of a finer existence with a loving, caring human was replaced with the stark reality that I may spend the rest of my life at this boarding house. What was once a fun and refreshing place became a dark and daunting cave.
I admit this brush with love, and the subsequent loss of it, had me thinking of ending things in this world. I had heard the stories of the different ways to get to rainbow bridge, but I knew that if I were going to get there, there was only one canine to whom I could turn.
His given name was Charlemagne Brutus the IV, but he was better known in the big house as the Candyman. His studded dog collar betrayed an otherwise noble and tame appearance. He was well-connected, and his lifestyle was proof of that. C’man slept on the best blankets, drank from the shiniest bowls and rarely took to begging for human food.
I approached Candyman during exercise time in the yard. While the other dogs were working on their begging routines, he let on to me that he had a shipment of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate candy bars on the way. For the right price he would let me have them. I knew, as did he, chocolate will kill a canine quicker than a game of “chase the cat” in traffic. Yeah, that quickly.
Death by chocolate, as it is commonly referred to in the restaurant business, was only two Hershey bars away for me. Once ingested, I would soon be patrolling the pearly gates of heaven, looking, of course, for a place to dig out. Paradise awaited me.
But the price was steep; a greenie and a peanut butter filled Kong for the candy bars. I had no money and I was unemployed, so I resigned myself to the situation at hand. At least death would come seven times faster than it does for others on this lonely, desolate planet.
I lowered my already slouched body onto the well worn blanket covering the cage’s tin floor. Surely there was another way out of this situation.
I lay there, thinking about my options. Maybe during exercise time I could climb the fence and escape? I would be free again. The trouble was the shelter workers were on high alert ever since Hairy Houdini, the border-collie mix, escaped last month. Maybe I could steal the German Shepherd’ treats. Surely, once Ruger found out, he’d give me the business end of a chewy shiv. Hmmm, that sounds a little too painful.
Maybe if I . . .
I laid there for hours, searching for a solution. When I finally fell asleep, the perfect escape was still out of my paws’ grasp.
When I awoke, an angel was standing over me. The very same blonde angel that had visited me earlier in the day. Next to her was a very handsome young man. So handsome you might think he was gay, but let me assure the reader he is not. He looked at me and said, “He’s cute. Let’s get him.”
“I want you to look at this one over here too,” the angel countered.
What? Another dog? She’s betraying me all over again. It was Christmas season, and I felt just like a Douglas Fir being picked up, manhandled, and then tossed aside in favor of a bigger, better tree.
Fortunately the man had his wits about him “No, I like this one, he’s so dopey looking. We don’t need to look at any of the others. He’s the one.” I didn’t much care for his attitude but his decision-making capability was flawless.
The attendant, known as Nurse Ratchet by the inmates, lingered nearby. She was eager to get rid of me after my failed attempt at unionizing the locals to get better victuals. “Would you like to take him out for a walk, just to make sure you like him?” she offered, knowing full well that once prospective parents take a dog for a ‘test’ walk, they will adopt the pet 98% of the time.
Once outside, I made a beeline for my potential owner’s car. It was easy to pick out; my sense of smell is incredible. In a show of respect I immediately peed on the front driver’s side tire. The couple tried to fawn all over me, but I ignored them. Once you have them this far, you show them you don’t want them and they’ll want you more.
Remember, don’t hate the player; hate the game.
The ploy worked like a charm; while they informed Ratchet they wanted me, I pranced back toward my former home to pack my belongings.
“Not so fast my friend,” Ratchet cackled, “We need to make sure you get all your required shots before we can release you to these fine folks.”
What do you mean I can’t leave yet? What a shot in the nads, which by the way were already gone. My new parents were told to come pick me up later in the week.
As they went to put me back in my cage, I abandoned my “good boy” act and did my best to stop this course of action. I sat down and refused to move, forcing two, it might have been three, of the staff’s goons to drag me across the floor and into lockdown. As they dragged me away, I got one last look at my new owners, who stared at the commotion with shocked looks that said, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”
It’s a look they would share many times in our future together.
Excerpted from BAD TO THE BONE by BO HOEFINGER (Kensington Books/Citadel Press) Copyright © 2009 by Horst Hoefinger. Excerpted by permission.All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. My book is dedicated to rescue and shelter workers who make this world a better place, one animal at a time. I donate 10% of my proceeds to help homeless dogs and cats.