Single mothers are the poorest demographic group in America in the best of times, but I
had always been able to get a pretty good job and my daughter Mica and I were making it. We were making until I was abruptly downsized in 2008 and all the jobs seemed to evaporate.
The devil is in the details sometimes and my daughter’s dog, Tristan, was a painful detail in our struggle for survival. I had come home from work two months earlier to be met at the door by three teenagers looking guilty-always an alarming situation. “What are you guys up to?” I asked. “Uh…Don’t go in the bathroom,” they answered. I promptly went into the bathroom, of course, and there were three wobbly puppies.
“Oh no,” I said. “Wait, let me explain,” Mica answered, speaking rapidly. Workmen at the college that the kids attended had been moving a building and found a wild mama dog and a litter of puppies living underneath it. The mama dog attacked the workmen and they had shot her. Now they were going to euthanize the seven puppies. Mica begged them to wait ten minutes, then ran around campus and recruited a rescue squad of students. These three puppies were what was left over after the student distribution.
Two of these puppies, like the mama dog and the rest of the litter, looked like wolves. Hybrid wild dogs were not uncommon in those regions. Strangely, one of the puppies looked like a yellow lab. “His name is Tristan,” Mica said, scooping up the puppy. “Look how cute he is.” I have a soft spot for Labs, even if they may have wolf DNA lurking in the family tree.
We tried to keep Tristan as we moved from cheap apartment to cheaper apartment. He looked like a Lab, but he acted like a wolf, and he was growing rapidly. We almost convinced the neighboring senior center to take him. He loved the old folks and visited them often, but they were afraid his exuberance would result in a broken hip for the fragile residents, and they were probably right.
We tried to give him to the shelter, but they were full and didn’t take large dogs at any time. We tried to find him a home and could not. When we had to move again, I delayed, still hoping to find Tristan a home. One afternoon, Mica threw our belongings into the car, grabbed Tristan and said, “Let’s go.” “But I haven’t found him a home yet, we can’t go,” I pointed out. “Drop him off at animal control. We have to go,” she answered grimly and with steely determination . Animal control killed the dogs they apprehended.
No one was in at animal control, but they had a cage for drop-offs. Mica put him in the cage, put his leash on top, and attached a hand-written note: “His name is Tristan. He has had his shots. He’s a good boy.” I felt sick and Mica cried for an hour and a half. Just one more painful crossroad in the journey of the unemployed.
The miracle happened a few months later. Mica had returned to that city to see her old friends and while loitering in McDonald’s parking lot, a friend of a friend approached the group. The young lady mentioned that she had a new dog, a half-grown yellow lab. Mica asked where she got him and the girl said that animal control had put an ad in the paper, and his name was Tristan.
The group drove to the girl’s farm, and sure enough-Tristan gallumped out to meet them. He nearly knocked Mica down, as usual, and then ran off to play. The new owners were having a bit of trouble with Tristan preying on their chickens, but other than that, they were crazy about him.
The men at the animal shelter read the short note Mica left with their hearts and spent their own money to find a home for a dog some anonymous someone, somehwhere, had loved.What are the chances? What are the chances that Mica would be at McDonalds, in a distant city, at the same time as Tristan’s new owner? God is always good. Sometimes human beings are good, too.