Peanut was a dirty beagle I saw crossing the street in a run-down part of Indianapolis on a winter morning several years ago. He trotted along the crosswalk next to an old woman with a big shopping bag. I assumed he belonged to her, until she turned around and swung the bag at him.
I pulled over, got out of my car, and called to him. I was on my way to work in my lawyer car* and a business suit, but that didn't matter. Peanut came right over -- he didn't seem dissuaded by his encounter with the shopping bag -- and licked my hand. He was a very young dog. I could tell he had been out awhile, because his very small collar was nearly choking him. He had clearly outgrown it. And he smelled like hell. Wasteland Fan used to rib me and say I was really picking up animals that actually had homes, but I'd learned that there's a look (and often a smell) about a real stray dog, and he had it.
But into the Lawyer Car he went, and I turned around and took him back home, bathed him, cut off the collar and fed him. He was famished.
And he was also, as we discovered later, a complete doofus. It's really not possible to convey how dim this dog was. We would put him out in the sunroom and watch from the upper deck as he trotted a perfect circle around the sunroom. Over and over again. Without stopping. Mr. T took to calling him "Do Loop." He would not stop the circles until we intervened.
We had just moved into that house, which was a ranch with a walkout basement. An enormous deck stretched along the length of the upper floor. One afternoon, Peanut wiggled through the slats and took a flying leap off it, presumably to greet Mr. T, who had just appeared below. He landed on his head ten feet below with a crunch. I freaked.
Peanut got up and walked in Mr. T's direction, but careened leftward at the last second as if flunking a field sobriety test. He paused, shook his head and continued to Mr. T, this time accurately judging the directions.
He was quite a dog. I trolled Big Law Firm for possible homes for Peanut, and hit pay dirt in the IT department. The head of IT loved beagles, and was unable to resist Peanut's abundant goofiness. Rob and his wife had no kids, a lakeside home, a boat and a pool, and they wanted to share it all with Peanut.
Two weeks after Peanut moved, his new owner came to my office, chuckling, to tell me he'd had to jump in the pool after him that weekend. Peanut had fallen off the diving board. Eventually, Peanut grew to enjoy the boat, and I have this image of him riding on the bow, nose in the air. Before he jumps or falls off, of course.
Once we moved to Portland, the stray-finding ceased. Portland has remarkable animal welfare facilities, and in three years we found only a single golden retriever who'd busted his gate and gone on safari. We contacted his owners and he went home two hours after we found him.
Coeur d'Alene, it seems, has a much bigger problem with stray animals.
* Why, yes I was compensating for an empty and meaningless existence. Why do you ask?