This post was originally published on October 13, 2015.
My pooches have been instrumental to my recovery. But there are days when I wonder, What if I just had one dog? Maybe I would have been able to move back to LA and be near my son? Instead of the Mojave Desert, what if I lived in Hollywood again?
I didn’t like pit bulls until I reached the end of my drinking career. Their sad eyes and pumpkin-shaped heads turned me off. I believed the myth about the locking jaw.
Then something larger than myself happened. I rescued a few.
When people tell me that one dog is too much, I laugh and think they are insane. It’s not that different from when I was drinking and I would laugh at friends who got tipsy after a few sips of wine. As I slurped down my Chardonnay, I would fixate on their glasses, hoping they wouldn’t finish and would offer the rest of their drink to me. Usually, they would say, “One glass! That’s too much for me!”
One glass of wine was too much? Were they nuts?
Honestly, I have been pretty good with my pit bull addiction. It was dormant for a few years until a few weeks ago.
Somehow I found a Facebook post about a one-year-old pit bull terrier, ID #A485470, in a shelter. There were photos of this dog outside in the play yard with toys, a photo of him behind bars, a video of him meeting a girl dog.
This dog had ears that stood up like a rabbit’s. His name was Patrick, which the animal control officers had given him. He looked happy and kind of naïve. Doesn’t this dog sense where he is?
So not only am I a recovering alcoholic, former sex addict and a plant-aholic (specifically, bougainvillea, because just like certain types of men, it is challenging to deal with), but I am also a compulsive dog rescuer, specifically pit bulls, a breed that, for the most part, gets a pretty bad rap.
I tried to ignore the Facebook post of Patrick. I kept telling myself, Recite the first step and substitute “pit bulls” for alcohol. Say the Serenity Prayer. Do a Hare Krishna dance. Light a few candles in front of the Buddha. Read the Bible—no, the Big Book!
And then things got dire for Patrick the pooch. He was going to be put to sleep. Before you know it, I’m emailing the shelter and putting a hold on him.
The next day, I drove to the veterinary hospital where the shelter had sent him to get neutered. Along the way, I had a thought: Oh my God. Am I deranged? Then I had another thought: What’s one more dog? Besides, two Chihuahua mixes equal one dog.
According to a New York Times article, us addictive personalities share specific traits. Usually, we are impulsive, exhibit antisocial behavior and experience a sense of social alienation. Sometimes, addictive personalities are sensation seekers.
Instead of adopting this pit bull, maybe I should just go bungee jumping and have a heart attack.
When I got to the hospital, I was a nervous wreck. It occurred to me that I had never met this Patrick. Don’t most normal human beings meet the dog before they decide they want it, let alone bring it home? I felt like I was a contestant on The Dating Game.
Well, it was too late to turn back.
Listen, Sev. We should have a fairly peaceful ride home. The dog will be half-drugged because he just got neutered. Easy peazy. But no more dogs. Hasta la vista, dog rescue!
Why don’t they have Canine Rescuers Anonymous?
Inside the crowded vet hospital, I waited. I checked out the other clients. They all had small cute fluffy doggies. Wait! I saw a brindle pit bull but the owner looked like a gangbanger. He even had tattoos on his neck. My stomach lurched. Finally, I heard my name being mispronounced, as usual. After I paid the bill, I waited again. I heard dogs barking from behind closed doors.
I had my Nikon slung over my shoulder so I could take some photos of the newly-liberated hound in the parking lot for all the rescue people on Facebook to see.
I made a mental note to myself:
Do not follow any more posts of pit bulls in the pound. Do not fantasize that you will be like that Tia Torres who has that reality TV show, Pitbulls and Parolees, and that one day you will have your own show, Pacific Pitbull, that will document your daily life in the desert as you and the dogs tiptoe through the cacti. Watch Sevasti run with five pit bulls. Isn’t she hilarious? Isn’t she a complete idiot?
The vet emerged with a squirming, 58-pound bundle of joy. I stood there, gaping. Yes, he looked just like his photo, except bigger.
“I brought a collar with me,” I said.
Actually, I had packed two collars, one harness and a leash that said, Woof! Woof!, plus a thermos full of cold water, a doggy bowl, a comforter and one piece of ham, in case he got hungry, plus a sanitizing wipe.
As the vet carried this energetic entity into the parking lot, I asked nonchalantly, “The anesthesia wore off? So quickly?”
“Each dog is different,” he said. Then he handed the dog to me and took off.
Getting Patrick ready for his close-up wasn’t easy as I tried to adjust the settings on the camera with one hand and hold the leashed dog with the other.
Patrick yanked me toward a dumpster. He lifted his leg up and peed. After he finished, I walked him to the car. He stared at it. I opened the door. He hopped in. I said, “Stay!” He jumped out. Back in the car. “Stay!” I said. He jumped out. Finally, I put him in the car and rolled the window down.
I took a few badly composed, underexposed shots of him, with a gleaming look in his eyes and a sneering expression on his face. Why didn’t I rescue a senior? They are so easy and all they do is eat and sleep and not move around too much.
On the way back home, I renamed Patrick “Loki,” from the Norwegian god of mischief.
But then the funniest thing happened. It began to rain so hard on the highway. Through the rear-view mirror, I saw Loki checking it all out. His eyes were wide. I saw the rain through his eyes and, in that moment, I stopped over-analyzing my actions and just felt what he felt.
Happiness and freedom.
It was a cool feeling.