This one is for Lometa’s Perfect Puppy

Man, I gotta dig deep in the archives of my brain to remember my first puppy. It was so long ago that the memories, while certainly faded over time, seem to somehow have been reincarnated.

I must’ve been maybe somewhere between 10 and 12 years old and I used to help this lady, whose names escapes me due to the passage of time, walk her dog. Funny, I can clearly remember the dog though. Its name was Suzie and it was sort of a black lab mix. Friendly as hell and quiet to boot. I don’t this dog ever made a sound other than panting after running around in the park.

Anyway, growing up in a section of Brooklyn called Bay Ridge, we were fortunate enough to live very close to Shore Road Park. It was a (and hopefully still is) a huge expanse of green in the middle of concrete. From the park, if you looked one way, you could see the Statue of Liberty and the buildings of downtown Manhattan. If you looked the other, you’d see the Verrrazano Narrows Bridge and maybe the spire of the long abandoned parachute jump at Coney Island. Straight ahead lay the shores of Staten Island.

One day, we were taking Suzie for her walk when we came upon a little brown and white puppy. It looked like it had recently been abandoned or lost and was eager to make friends. Suzie’s owner decided to take it home with her and to see if she could find the owners. We put up signs around the neighborhood but nobody called to claim the pup.

Suzie’s owner also lived in a small apartment –too small to house two dogs. And so it was that I approached my Mom and Dad with the idea that we should take the little one in.

My Dad was a hard man. Hard thinking, hard drinking and a self described graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. His first inclination seemed to be to say “No” to any proposal that was put in front of him and when I asked if we could have a puppy I wasn’t all that surprised at the answer.

I remember being heart-broken and I made every excuse that I could think of in trying to get him to change his mind. The answer that came back was always the same. Finally, when my persistence was wearing thin, I finally pleaded with my Dad that he hadn’t even seen the puppy so how did he know he wouldn’t like it.

All it took was one look. Something in that hard man seemed to soften. Maybe it was in his eyes or maybe it was in his heart but something, at least for a short while, changed. My Dad called the dog “Tramp” and he had a home for the next six or seven years until I left to join the service. I can recall the darn thing curled up at my fathers feet at night as he read the paper and the pride that I felt as I walked it around the neighborhood. A boy and his dog so to speak.

So Lometa, maybe that’s the magic of puppies. Somehow they seem to have some kind of innate ability to soften and heal the hardest of hearts and stubbornest of minds and that’s maybe the most perfect thing of all.