Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Million Times Over

Tommy came barreling into my life with the force of a freight train. My mom, who suffers from memory loss but remains an animal lover down to the deepest core of her being, tells the story this way, “He followed her home!” I don’t correct her anymore; I like her version. But the truth is I followed him, right into the parking lot of the Original Tommy’s Hamburgers.

When I coaxed him into my car with the help of a hamburger and one of the girls who grilled them, I didn’t consider what was next. I lived in a Los Feliz studio apartment with my two cats, so I didn't intend to keep him. As I drove and waited for someone to respond to my crazy voicemail—you know, the one about the pit bull in the back seat of my car—the weight of what I'd just done began to dawn on me. I checked him out in the rear view mirror. He looked concerned, as if wondering where we were headed. I wondered the same thing.

Things moved quickly. That week I brought him to the shelter (long story saved for another time), posted signs in the neighborhood to find an owner, and placed an ad on petfinder, all to no avail.

Tommy the first day I found him
I learned about the Echo Park Animal Alliance, an incredible community of people committed to animal rescue, and I posted a plea for a foster while I searched for a new place to live. Within 30 minutes Jen Byrne responded saying she could do it.

Jen became one of my heroes. She’s saved hundreds of dogs, just like my neighbor, Veronica, transforming sick or fearful animals into loving, happy, adoptable pets.

She also became one of Tommy's earliest and biggest fans (Tommy adored her) and one of my stalwart supporters. When I expressed my gratitude, she said it takes a village, and it certainly has with Tommy.

I love my cats but the impact that Tommy has had on my life has been far more dramatic. He spun my world off its axis and repositioned it in a new direction. It’s been a rough ride, wrought with many challenges. At one point I tried to rehome him, posting an ad on a pet adoption site that said in part:

“I need a strong, assertive leader to give me structure and lots of exercise. In return, I will lick your feet in gratitude while you brush your teeth, and as you sit on the couch I will put my chin on your lap and groan with satisfaction.”

When I brought him home to my Pasadena duplex, I realized I was in over my head. I wasn’t an experienced dog owner and Tommy had some major issues. In a crisis of faith, I sent a message to Jen, who encouraged me to hang in there, saying she thought it was amazing I'd changed my life to keep him. Then she said, "He'll repay you a million times over."

And truly he has. I'm glad I stuck it out.

Karin Bugge recently spread the word about Pepe, and he got adopted. Hooray for Pepe! Her next article on Altadena Patch will feature pet adoption stories from local and not-so-local bloggers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tommy around Town

I took this photo in South Pasadena from my friend’s second-floor apartment, where she was stretched out on the couch with a broken ankle. I don’t visit that part of town too often, yet I get the impression the neighbors don’t see many front lawns with pit bulls shading themselves under olive trees.

But Tommy made himself right at home.

Back in my neighborhood, I gladly interrupted a long afternoon walk to support local Altadena businesses, El Patron and Bulgarini Gelato.

Later while running errands, I stopped for gas. Tommy took the opportunity to contemplate life in the driver's seat.