“I'm starting a rescue,” my wife announces one day at dinner. “A dog rescue.” The children and I look up from our spaghetti, and a series of images passes through my brain. Rescue: flashing lights, ambulances, EMT's with stretchers. Dogs, however, remain conspicuously absent from my mental picture.
I swallow my mouthful of garlic bread – one tries to be polite with children present – and ask, “A dog rescue?”
“Yes,” she says. “I'll save unwanted dogs from the county shelter, then rehabilitate them and adopt them out to local families.”
That was two years ago – 14 in rescue years. Of the 51 dogs she's re-homed, 32 have urinated on the couch, 19 have chewed on my shoes, and one ate an entire pound of thawing chorizo. The garage, which once housed our cars, is filled with dog food. I de-fur the furnace filter once a month, strangers stop by at odd hours to donate blankets and chew toys, and I haven't seen the postman since last spring. There's a one-eyed dalmatian who lives in my closet, a shih tzu in the bathtub, two pugs with allergies behind the TV, and a papillon with irritable bowel syndrome who makes her home beneath my desk.
Once, a typical evening of ours might be spent watching a movie with the kids. Now, Friday nights might go something like this:
Her phone rings. I pray it's her mother.
“Hello?” says says. “Yes, this is Paws-4-Ever.”
Her eyes light up. Her breath quickens. If I didn't know better, I'd think she had a boyfriend.
“He's hairless? Oh, no. And he has no teeth? Oh, the poor thing! Yes, yes... of course I'll take him. We'll be there in twenty minutes.”
“No, Beth,” I said as she hangs up the phone. “Look, I have to draw the line. No toothless dogs. Please.”
“But he's a chi-weenie!” she squeals, pulling on her coat and grabbing her purse. I stand up, dislodging Taco, the chihuahua who's been with us for 9 months. “Beth?”
Brushing hair from my jeans, I reach for my jacket, laying on the armchair under Kojak, the poodle with PTSD.
“He's a stray,” she said. “The poor thing. And they found him downtown, wandering alone. And he's HAIRLESS, Tim. Completely bald. How would YOU like to be bald with no teeth?”
She pauses as I pick up my car keys and smile at the mirror, examining my gums and hairline, both of which, I notice, are receding rapidly.
“Okay, Honey,” I say. “We can bring in one more. But do you know of any rescues for balding, toothless, worn-out old husbands?”
Timothy Walker is 50 years old and a resident of Dayton, Ohio. He is a husband and father, a writer, a DJ, an ordained minister, and a chili cook. He also performs with a local band, portraying Ozzy Osbourne in a Black Sabbath tribute band called Damaged Soul. Born in Huntington, West Virginia, Timothy graduated from Fairborn High School in 1983.