Monday, June 9, 2008
The dog I met the other day was born in a world of turmoil, mud and oil. The Mastiff/Staffordshire Terrier was just a puppy, so she didn't know the pain and anguish all of the humans around her were going through. She was happy to be alive. Frolicking through the mud and muck of New Orleans, a month after the Hurricane hit. Her Mom gave birth to a pair of puppies, a girl and a boy. Their owner lost his home when Katrina hit in October. Fearful of the stories coming out of the shelters, the old man and his dogs set off to find temporary housing in the only possession they had left, a beat up car that wouldn't run. That's where this family of four lived....and it's where Joe found them.
Joe lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. His job took him to New Orleans, but his professional life merged into volunteer life, as he began trying to help those who couldn't help themselves. He wandered from street to street, looking to see what little he could do to help those in need. That's when he stumbled upon Leroy (not really sure of his real name). Joe had just lost his dog and vowed he'd never get another one.( My uncle Jim felt the same way) He fell in love with the girl, an all white sister of a little guy , with one of those black splotches around one of his eyes. The reality was, Joe wasn't leaving New Orleans anytime soon and an all white dog wouldn't be very practical in a town covered in mud and oil. Joe asked the homeless guy, if he'd like to give up one of his dogs so it could see a better life. $100 later, the exchange was made and Joe was sloshing through the flooded streets with a new best friend.
Sure, Joe was concerned with the all white sibling, but that wasn't really why he picked the girl. He was amazed at how obedient the little puppy was. When the owner went into the local convenience store to buy a cup of coffee, the little dog waited patiently outside, with no leash. When called, the pup would follow. When ordered to sit and lay down, she would. He was hooked. "That's the dog, I want," he said. The old man didn't want to give up the dog, but hey, $100 when you have nothing is a lot of money. He took it and parted with the happy go lucky mixed breed.
Joe says he found many people living like his new found homeless friend. They chose not to live in shelters, like the big arena where so many people suffered without basic essentials. You'd find them in card board boxes, under tents in parking lots or in this guy's case, an old car. Best Joe could tell, Leroy had no family, except for his harem of dogs. They gave the new Hobo unconditional love and companionship. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to say goodbye to the little girl. Reality must have set in. He needed $100 dollars from the guy from New York and he was in no position to bargain.
I met this little doggy a few days ago at Angry Wades, my little Brooklyn watering hole on Smith street. I was impressed by the dogs energy, friendliness, obedience and her zeal for life. Joe tells me she still gets spooked by loud noises; doors slamming shut, horns honking, construction work and the like. But, for him, it's a minor disturbance.
As the hours went on, I realized I had never asked what he named the dog. He said, "Katrina." I was floored. Filled with emotion, I nodded in approval.
What Joe did is a true blessing and as I walked home to my empty apartment, four months after the loss of my dachshund Noodles, I couldn't help but wonder how many dogs that year , like that cute precious little dog I met, were named, Katrina.