Dog Days(4)

By: Edie Bryant

To my relief, it appeared to be a big metal dog bowl that held water. Well, good, at least I knew the poor thing wasn’t dehydrated. But I didn’t see a food bowl next to it. Though maybe I just buried the second bowl with a bunch of rubbish, making it impossible to see.

We walked out to my car as I thought of ways that I could convince the old man to come with me peacefully. I really didn’t want to have to cuff him; it was only going to make him more suspicious and agitated. He might even thrash around and hurt himself.

It’d be much better to somehow level with him. Use his logic to convince him coming with me was the best idea.

I opened my glove box and grabbed a bag of treats. I really did keep them in my car at all times. This was something I’d learned to do a few months after I started the job. You ran into agitated dogs pretty often. If you needed to get into a house with a dog going wild in the front yard, a few treats was usually your ticket in.

I also gave them out any time I pulled over someone with a dog in the backseat, just to be kind. There were a lot of negative stereotypes about cops, and I did my best to create a relationship between myself and the citizens I was here to protect.

Once I had the treats in my hand, the old man handed the dog over.

“What’s the dog’s name?” I asked.

“Her name is Bailey.”

“Why hello there, Bailey,” I said in a soft voice as I took her from him. The second she was in my arms instead of his, she calmed down considerably. The shaking subsided instantly. Clearly, this man was a source of major anxiety for her.

I couldn’t blame her for that; animals were very perceptive of their owners. No doubt his erratic behavior was very obvious to her. Something was wrong with him and she knew it.

At first, I went to put her down on the ground and feed her the treats, but as soon as she was on the sidewalk, she began to whine. She wanted to stay in my arms. All right, I guessed that was fine.

I picked her back up and began feeding her with my free arm. She ate every one enthusiastically.

“So,” I began to say to Matthew, who was staring at me wildly. “I think I know someone who can have that chip removed for you.”

“You do?” he asked enthusiastically.

“Yep, he’s a doctor friend of mine. He can take a look at you and solve the problem. I can take you to him if you want.”

“Okay!” he said eagerly.

Perfect. That was a lot easier than I thought.

I opened up the door and he got into the back of the squad car. As I shut it behind him, I noticed a few neighbors had come out of their house to observe the commotion. I nodded to the nearest neighbor politely, and a thought suddenly crossed my mind. Maybe he could be of some use.

“Hello, sir, can I speak to you for a minute?” I asked the man, who was still in his pajamas. He wore a tank top and a long, loose pair of American flag pants.

“Sure, what is it?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Have you lived here a while?”

“The last twenty years.” He nodded.

“So, you’ve known this man awhile?”

“Well, I haven’t seen him for a long time. I mean, I’m at work most of the time during the day, but we used to see each other on the weekend when we both did yard work. I actually thought he might have moved away.”

There was a twinge of guilt on his face, maybe because he hadn’t bothered to check on the old guy, but I didn’t have time to address that. The longer I left Matthew in the car, the higher the chance he’d start to get frustrated.

“So, do you know his family then?”

“I did, yeah. Well, Sherry died many years ago. But I’ve talked to his daughter Christine a few times since she moved away. She was good friends with my youngest son.”

“Oh, fantastic, could you possibly give me her number?”

“Absolutely.” He pulled out his phone, which, thankfully, was in his pajama pants pocket.

Man, had we grown attached to our technology today or what? Not that I had any room to talk, because I too grabbed my phone from my pocket to take down the number.

“Thank you so much,” I told him. “You have a great day.”

“You too.” He nodded.

Before I took Matthew in for an evaluation, I wanted to speak to the daughter. Maybe she could enlighten me on his condition. Although, honestly, I was a little skeptical of any daughter that let her dad live in this level of filth.