Ron Costello

Not too far right and not too far left — Can we meet somewhere in the middle on: Immigration?

The Barking Dog

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You don’t see much  wildlife living in the city. There are birds , sure, little ones like sparrows and robins that build nests in city trees. Squirrels, too, that dig in my potted plants out back hiding their nuts for winter, swooshing dirt on the concrete ground. And alley cats, feral or stray, weak looking animals that need a hot shower and a good meal. Oh, and pigeons, munching tidbits in the city parks. And rats..

Walked dogs don't bark.

Walked dogs don’t bark.

Lots of pet dogs on leashes and cats in windows, too. The cats rarely get out but dog walking is a major sport in South Philadelphia, where I live. All kinds of dogs — shapes and sizes — and all kinds of owners — young and old — equipped with ready when needed leash-it bags. Maybe someday dogs will learn to use the  litter box.

Walked-dogs don’t bark, either. At least those I see in the hood’. That’s why, at work, the barking quickly got my attention. I remember when I first heard it. My office building sat on top of the Market Street sidewalk. Huge windows separating me from passing pedestrians.

Smog-induced sunset.

Smog-induced sunset.

The first time I heard the barking I was in a meeting. It started from afar, but grew in volume as it passed by,  then slowly faded like a smog-induced Delaware River sunset. All in a minute or two.

 The barking would come and go. Fade in, then out. Not every day, but randomly. No set time, but anytime. I had to go outside and see for myself and that’s how I met David and Scrapps.
David is homeless. Scrapps is his dog, he’s the barking dog. They roamed the city, David pushing Scrapps in a baby carriage loaded with their belongings. Everything  they own. David is smart, friendly. It took time to get Scrapps’ trust, but the box of doggie treats I bought and kept under my desk helped. When I heard the barking, I grabbed two treats and a few bucks and headed for the door. David said he rescued Scrapps from a bad situation and Scrapps is appreciative so he barks whenever the carriage moves. Okay. Sounds reasonable. Scrapps died about a year ago. Maybe living on the streets got to him. Maybe he just got too damn old.
Wouldn't this be something!

Wouldn’t this be something!

Befriending David and Scrapps taught me something about the homeless. Before, I’d ignore the homeless — as if they were ghosts hanging around the city, down on  their luck, with no possible connection to me; I hardly gave them a look. I think  most people are like that.

They see but don’t see.

David and  Scrapps changed things for me. Sometimes, now, instead of ignoring them,  I’ll stop and talk to the street people, buy them a sandwich, a cup of coffee, or give them a dollar or two — if I’m sure it’s not for alcohol or drugs. You can never be sure. Like David and Scrapps, they all have a life and a story — a story that’s as important as yours and mine.

One thought on “The Barking Dog

  1. Everyone has a story. Great post, Ron.

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