So, I’m walking home last week from the library and about a block from my place, I hear what sounds like a small commotion and a bark followed by the sound of a supermarket shopping cart rolling towards where I’m about to stroll. I stop and take a step back figuring it’s one of the delivery guys from the nearby grocery store running into some dog trouble and the last thing yours truly needs to do is get plowed over by some guy with a big metal cart who may or may not be outrunning a pissed-off pooch.
As I stood there out of harm’s way (I hoped), the rolling cart sound gets closer and closer until it slows down and I see the cart slowly come into view from my right… with a pit bull sitting in it looking as if it’s smiling. What. The. What? As my brain is filing this bizarre scene under “Now I’ve Seen It All”, the cart comes to a stop about a foot from the big green relay mailbox on the corner. I look at the dog, who looks at me, then behind it. From my right I hear “Come on man, one more, one more!” as two young guys step into view.
Yeah, it was time to get nosy…
As one of the pair pulled the cart back, I recognized him as a worker from one of the other markets a few blocks away and the other guy who seemed to be the dog’s owner I’d never seen before. As it was around 8:30pm it was a bit chilly thanks to the wind picking up. So I didn’t want to kill too much time before I got something out of someone (and that happy dog wasn’t talking at all). “Um, I don’t mean to be nosy but… what’s up with the dog in the shopping cart?” I asked the second guy, who turned around looking sort of half pleased and half embarrassed. It turned out that he’d driven up here from Georgia to visit his grandmother for a spell and bought his dog with him and the dog is a rescue from another state who as a puppy used to ride around in her previous owner’s bike in a basket on the front. He said was told this when he adopted the dog, but thought she’d grown out of it during the two years he’d had her.
He noted that things were fine and dandy up until this particular evening when he’d gone to the supermarket with his grandma to fill a huge order that had to be delivered. The dog saw the cart when it was at the front door being unloaded and went nuts, barking up a storm and running in circles around everyone trying to jump into the cart. The poor owner put two and two together and ended up tipping the delivery guy a nice sum to let the dog ride in the cart for a few minutes after all the groceries were removed. As we chatted, the cart rolled almost to the same spot again and the dog looked like it was going to grin itself to death before letting out a single bark. The poor delivery guy in his short-sleeved shirt with the long-sleeved (but not warm enough) thermal shirt underneath was eyeballing both of us until a break in the conversation, then offered up a “Hey, man… I gotta get back to the store before we close up…”, which meant this particular canine rodeo was coming to a close.
As I thanked the owner for his time and was about to step around the cart to go on my now merrier way, the kid leans in with a “Yo, mister – you want a dog?”, which made me stop and backpedal to turn him down. His friends back home had been making fun of him and his dog because she’s not tough and he’d been considering selling or trading up to a more stereotypical crankier model. I told him he should keep the dog because she makes for a great conversation piece if anything and not to listen to people who probably mistreat their pets to get them to be more aggressive. If anything, I noted, he’d get more years out of a stupid and happy dog than a mad and maybe miserable one. I think that worked, as the dog decided to move from her spot in front of the cart to where I was near the rear and gently bop me in the back of with her head. “See? Smarter than you think if she got what I just told you.” I got a bark for that news flash that made me think I was on to something.
He looked at his pet and I could see something change in his demeanor a little bit. The dog barked twice, went back to the front of the cart and sat down again as her owner reached into a pocket and pulled out some bills, calling over to the delivery guy “One more time, man! Last time, Okay!” as I passed between them, strolling home with my own stupid smile growing a bit frozen on my face as the wind did its thing…