Dothan Alabama is where everyone in Southwest Georgia took dates in the 70’s. That was the only place with a movie theater and restaurants that didn’t have retirees clogging up the waitress by drinking a gallon of coffee a day. Even the most strict parents allowed this pilgrimage and the forty minute drive there was some one on one time that was magic to those of us just trying to figure out which end was up in life. I haven’t been there in years and hadn’t planned to go, but that was where Elbow had planned to pick Faith up, and so on to Dothan, to rescue a dog, I would go.
If I started now and wrote for another four years I might be able to give you an idea of how much time I spent on the road to Dothan when I was in High School. That was the place everyone went when a new Pink Floyd Album came out ( I bought “Animals” in Albany Georgia just to be different) That was where we went to secretively visit the head shop. That was where we went when we got stoned and wanted to watch a midnight movie.
The girl who was my High School sweetheart liked a Mexican restaurant on Main Street there and there is where I took her on our first date. It was a surreal thing because I was terrified of social interaction but more than willing to give it a shot for her. That was also the last place she and I went in High School, the night she told me she was getting married to someone else. I remember both scenes equally and they were matching bookends for our relationship that would not truly die for another five years. I nearly asked Elbow to drive by the place to see if it was still there, but no. There comes a time to let go and that time has come and gone many other times.
There was an old state roadside park where she and I used to make out and that too has been close. I saw it on the way back and I remembered that night we were driving back from Dothan on our first date and she reached over and pulled the blinker on to let me know she wanted to stop for a while. Of all the things that I done and seen while on a date that was my first real erotic moment behind the wheel, a simple act really, but one fraught with implications. Did I mention letting go somewhere before? I am certain I did.
She and I went to see a friend who had been in a wreck, one that I indirectly caused, and the hospital was right across the street from where Elbow and I waited for the dog delivery. I remember seeing that woman with a long and wicked looking gash in her head, and it never occurred to me I had a hand in what had happened but I did, and it took years for me to understand what had happened.
The dog arrived and I have seen scared dogs before. Faith was homeless, without a pack to love and protect her, and no one but kind strangers to guide her. She didn’t have her own place to sleep, or eat, or hang out, and she had no one to protect and love. This terrifies a dog more than anything else. The realization of abandonment, that feeling every dog that has been left at a shelter or dumped on the road is an act of rape. There isn’t anything we humans do that is worst to dog, emotionally. Here Faith is, wondering what she did wrong to deserve what has happened and there is no one to guide her but people she has never smelled before. Her terror was clear and palpable. We would not be her family on this day and it would take time before she could learn we were.
Faith lay on the floorboard and she didn’t move very much on the way home. The day for her had already been very long and very hard. She had been spaded the day before and the pain meds were making her blurry. Where were the people she loved? Where were these humans taking her? What had she done wrong? Three weeks in the shelter were an eternity in dog years. Now the long road trip, likely her first, and the never ending feeling she was getting further and further away from home.
Faith acted as if she were in a state of shock as we led her around the yard. There was no tail wagging and little interest in her environment. She finally found the water trough and I noticed that seemed to help. Water, to strays and the abandoned, is a community not to be taken lightly. If there is water, a good steady source of fresh and clean water, then that’s a start. That’s not a bad thing at all.
Theo, the ancient black lab seemed to like Faith and Faith seemed to like Theo. They traded snuffles and neither growled at one another. Lucy, the gentle giant of a Great Pyrenees was not so accepting. Lucy curled her lips and growled at Faith but Faith didn’t seem the least bit concerned. Later, we tried to let the two sort it out and Lucy attacked Faith. I grabbed Lucy, who out massed Faith by half again, and Faith went after Lucy. Okay. Faith clearly still has come self-confidence when it comes to defending herself. How these two are going to sort it out, I cannot guess at this point, but Lucy is a good person, I do know that.
I left Elbow and Faith with the rest of the pack, and made my way home. Today one less dog is without a home, even if she doesn’t know it yet. Today, one less dog is without a family, even if she doesn’t feel it yet. Today, one less dog is abandoned, and all in all, that makes this a good day.