After a struggle a loud "CLICK" echoed in the bus. I was looking out the window beside me and when I heard the driver chuckle, I turned to see what was happening. A small, lovely, dog was standing on the ramp and looking into the bus. The dog, one I see often around the building I live in, was looking curiously at me, at the wheelchair and the work that was being done to strap us down. His human, a nice looking fellow, was waiting patiently for the dog to see what he wanted to see. After a few seconds the dog turned around and trotted back to continue his journey back into the building. I waved at the man who was walking the dog, he waved back.
The dog lives with two men. Both of them take responsibility for getting him out for a morning walk. The guy I saw today once joked with me that they were the 'Three Amigos.' The other guy, yikes, isn't what you'd call warm. Unlike the guy today, he would never stop, never wave, never speak to me, to Joe or to anyone in the building. He seems like his inner controls are fused at one setting:
Temperature: Almost at boil
At first I thought he was brusque and rude to me because of, well you know why, because that's what I do. But then I saw he's like that with pretty much everyone else. When he's walking the dog, he has a 'shit, piss, and be done with it' attitude. There's no pause while the dog sniffs or investigates. There's certainly no pause for the dog to be address or petted by others. We are not the only ones in the building who have a 'here let mommy rub your belly' approach to the dogs in the building. Like about 10 other residents I know, I know the names of the dogs having no idea about who the hell they live with. Pooch has clearly learned, when with Gay Guy Gregarious, I can be petted and have friends, when I am with Gay Guy Grumpy, I am to rush thorough my routines so I don't get yelled at and my collar yanked.
So my day began by seeing the lovely pooch standing having a good old look into the bus. He looked so happy standing there, having a few minutes to investigate his world. He was doing what dogs do - he trotted back into the building almost dancing happy.
That self same day, after work I was out in my wheelchair. I run into dog and GGGregarious. We had a brief conversation:
Me: It was nice for your dog to visit me on the bus.
GGGregarious: He's curious about everything around him, I actually admire him for that.
Me: How long has he been your dog.
GGGregarious: Oh, he's not mine, he was living him when I moved in.
Me: Oh ... I haven't seen ...
GGGregarious: No we broke up a couple months ago. He moved out.
Me: He didn't take his dog?
Here there is a smile, then, "Well, what happened was interesting."
My face indicated enough interest to be a response.
"He'd packed everything up and loaded it into a friends van. Then when he came upstairs to get his dog, there was a huge confrontation."
"Oh you got into a custody battle did you?"
"No, no, I knew that he'd had him for three years before I moved in. I had no claim on him. It's just, well, the dog went on strike. He refused to move. It was clear he didn't want to move out,. For about fifteen minutes he tried calling him, begging him, promising him stuff even. When he tried to take him by force the dog growled and went behind my legs. He just wasn't going to move."
I liked the idea of the dog saying, GGGregarious treats me well and you are called GGGrumpy for a reason, piss off.
In the end GGGrumpy simply got angry and blamed GGGregarious for turning the dog against his former owner. "All I said," he told me, "was, 'You did that yourself.'"
GGGregaious says, "So I don't call him 'my dog,' he chose me, I chose him, so he's the dog I live with."
After we chatted a little more he said, "You have to listen when someone makes a choice don't you."
I feel like getting a bullhorn and run through group homes and nursing homes and all places where people receive service ... blaring out the message: YOU HAVE TO LISTEN WHEN SOMEONE MAKES A CHOICE!!!"
Because someone can't talk doesn't mean that choices aren't made every day.
In the lobby waiting for the elevator, the lovely pooch looks up at me, as he always does, asking permission to stand up with his feet on my chair so that we can say a proper goodbye. I nod, he Stands and I scratch him behind his right ear ... it's his preferred ear ... don't ask me how I know, you know the answer to that already.