You'll remember that Mulligan is the big guy in these photos. I don't think I've mentioned Paloma here before. Paloma (formerly Pancake) came to Joan some time last year. Her story is pretty crazy. Very looooong story short, a few of Joan's students came to her last year and said that they had found a sick and injured dog and had taken her in. But, their big, mean landlord had discovered the dog and told them to get rid of her or to get out of their apartment entirely. Joan generously took in Pancake/Paloma for a temporary stay ... and found out a few days later that the whole thing had been a lie: The students had chosen to adopt the dog and sneak her into their apartment against their lease. Basically, if Joan wasn't Joan (aka, A Saint), Paloma would have been dumped back at the pound and most likely faced death. Joan bawled out her students (with my encouragement ... wish I could've been there to see it), took the dog in permanently, and renamed her Paloma ("little dove") and ditched "Pancake" (much to Ron's chagrin ... he wants to name our next pet "Flapjack").
Well, it's happened again: Meet London.
I'll walk you through the text messages I received from Joan after my shrimp tacos on Saturday night:
"So I rescued a pit bull this week."
This was followed by the above picture and: "I can't keep him. He and Mulligan don't get along. So, I need to find him a home, preferably one where he's the only dog. It was so sad. He's so sweet and he has so much potential."
Me: "Ron dropped off some stuff at the SPCA yesterday and he took a look at the dogs. He said it was sad because there were a lot of pit bulls."
Joan: "[Hometown] has some breed specific legislation, and animal control has a policy to euthanize all pit bulls it seizes. I think the humane society must have that too because there are NEVER any pits there. I named him London. Paloma is not a fan either."
Want to know why London has so much trouble getting along with other dogs or communicating with most other living things?
Joan: "He's spent his whole life on a 15 foot chain in the backyard of a man who beats him with a stick to 'keep him in line.'"
Me: "Holy s***."
Joan: "A friend of mine has him in her backyard now. The man who had him before lives on her street."
Me: "Did she know about London's existence? Did you steal him or convince the guy to give him up?"
Joan: "I offered to buy him and the guy gave him up. He gave me the 'switch' to hit him with."
Me: "That's insane. Didn't even take $$ for him? Then what the hell did he keep him for?"
Joan: "He was afraid that someone else would lose him and he'd get euthanized."
Me: "That makes ZERO sense."
Joan: "I know."
London needs a home, but Joan's not sure where he can go right now. She's also really worried because he's going to need a lot of training in order to become properly socialized. I'm thinking it could be a full time job for a few weeks or months, but I've never owned a dog so I wouldn't really know.
(For those of you who may not believe that such rehabilitation is possible or that pit bulls deserve their bad reputation, then PLEASE read this article (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE). It unravels many of the myths that our culture projects on these dogs and gives a surprising history of the pit bull breed.)
After this conversation, I spent a lot of time asking, "Would I have the gall to walk up to some guy on his property and say, 'Why don't you give me your dog? Actually, you know what? I'm not asking you: I'm telling you. GIVE ME YOUR DOG'"? I have thought several times that I am the stupid kind of person who would think nothing of screaming, "HEY YOU STOP THAT!!!" if I someone publicly beating or torturing an animal. I could see myself taking my first swing at someone's face to stop it, but I've never been tested so I don't know for sure. (If this ever comes to pass, it better be after Leslie has officially passed the bar exam.)
("I'm not a coward, I've just never been tested. I'd like to think if I was I would pass" ... I hate showing my age, but remember when that song was popular?)
I really don't want to be tested. But, Joan passed the test and I like to think I have things in common with her. London's safe for now, but who knows how many other creatures still live in fear at this moment.
San Francesco: I talk to you all the time, and I know you hear me. Please watch over all of the little creatures of the world who have no voice and no protection from the bad and evil choices that human beings make on a daily basis. I know I'm a part of the machine and contribute in various ways to the insanity, but please help us to choose our way out of causing more pain and destruction and lead us to a better way of life that lifts up all living things. Most importantly, please give more people the courage of someone like Joan who had no fear confronting a severely misguided (and potentially dangerous) person and rescuing an otherwise hopeless creature.