About the time we, the three of us got pretty good at all walking together like civilized animals, Diesel hit the mother lode.
The week between Christmas and the New Year, I got two serious inquiries about him. One was a note stuck to the door from a couple of my good neighbors (yes, they do exist). I read the note, felt a little pang of impending loss but went ahead and made the call. He got a short interview from that call from friends of a friend, who happened to be looking for a dog. I passed my contact information on to them and waited. The very next day the rescue contacted me and said someone had called asking about Diesel. I had the idea that maybe it was the same person but that wasn't the case. Again, I passed the information along and a few days went by. Then, there was a message from someone we'll call Debbie on the machine. We spent about thirty minutes talking on the telephone and I wondered after we finished, if Debbie was a hallucination I just had or a really mean joke.
You know how when you're a kid and you get a dog and some time passes how one day you come home from school and the dog is gone and one of your parents tells you that your dog went to "live on a farm"? Some - I'd say even many of you have heard this spiel - you're shocked and sorry, you never really saw the dog go or had a chance to say goodbye but of course it's a wonderful place where the dog can run and play and chase rabbits all day and though you feel just terrible somehow you convince yourself that what your parents said is true and the dog really is going to have a nice life there? Remember that story? This happened at my house more than one time although my mother will deny it to this day, none of those dogs ever went to any farm. They were all taken to the pound or dumped off somewhere or given away. I'll never know the details but it took a lot longer than I'd like to admit to figure out that "the farm" didn't exist and my dogs weren't hanging out at the barn in some canine Nirvana.
There really is a farm. And our friend Diesel found it or to be more precise, the farm found him. It was the second phone call. The dream I couldn't allow myself to have as a foster mom knowing it would obliterate all future candidates, called us right up on the telephone.
Diesel and I went over to Debbie's for a visit. We had a run in the pasture. We petted the horses and had tea - with fruitcake. I know what you're thinking. It was unbelievably good though, handmade-by-a-Louisiana-woman-type good. That was Tuesday. She filled out the application for Diesel and we all traded e-mails.
It was then I started thinking seriously about Diesel's departure and our long history together. The neighbors, the police, him galloping through my flower beds in the middle of May, every May, his predecessor Buddy - who got hit and died slowly in front of my house the night before Thanksgiving and the rage I felt when his owner asked me to take care of it, because he just couldn't deal with it right now, how Diesel showed up weeks later - the rebound puppy, me already hoping for his liberation as he refused to become the bully his owner craved but howled insufferably on the chain, terrifying some of the dog walkers, regularly evading the dogcatcher and finally, how he won us over - me and Stella and all but the wimpiest of neighbors with his sincere loyalty and good-natured affection and now that I was thinking about it everything that's really good in a dog.
All of this reflection caused a minor league meltdown in the pet food aisle at Wal-Mart. It was warped and poetic, pain and joy all ground together with a discount mortar and pestle against the backdrop of Wal-Mart. It was as my young niece Katie likes to say: epic.
We are so happy to report that as of yesterday, Diesel has his very own family. It is made up of one woman, three horses, a female dog and three cats, a creek and a never-ending supply of rabbits, mice, horse manure and neighbor dogs to run the fence with. I'm guessing if you're a dog it just doesn't get any better than that.