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It was in Coeur d'Alene, a small mountain town not exactly known for divine intervention of the doggie sort, and I am not saying this is what happened; it could have been happenstance, synchronicity, or just dumb dog luck.
A good dog story is simple and ends well. Not like Old Yeller (tragic, sad), Rin Tin Tin (likes to bite people), Benji (too highbrow) or Lassie (sheds a lot). Buck, in Call of the Wild, is a great story, but he kills dogs, and a few people, too. That leaves him at the short end of the stick as far as redemptive dog tales go.
One day, last summer, I drove to Coeur d'Alene (33 miles east of Spokane), expecting a hunter's paradise and redneck haven. However, it was not to be. The Coeur d'Alene Resort, a resplendent 18-story hotel, towers above (and overwhelms) a panoramic lake and floating boardwalk, a few steps from downtown, with walking trails and paddleboard beaches that lead to the University of Idaho.
A few steps back, beneath petunia-laden lamps and well-manicured trees, tourists stroll past a promenade of cottage cafes, crepe bistros, art galleys, and Indie pubs. Leashed dogs, of many diverse sizes and shapes, loll alongside.
At one shop, on Sherman Street, a woman artist from Alaska painted a refreshing water color, while her dog rolled on the floor, blocking my path so he could try to lick me, and hopefully get his belly rubbed. I succumbed. In the nearby Beacon Pub, a dog walker who looked like Tom Cruise steered three canines on leashes past the glass cooler. The bartender obviously knew him. I had an IPA beer.
A couple of blocks east, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, I saw a cocker spaniel standing on a curb. He looked despondent, the way lost dogs do. People, slurping gelatos or waffle cones, were oblivious. Although I had already rescued two dogs in Spokane that summer, one an overweight Japanese Akita that caught my eye and ambled up my steps and into my house, and the other a giddy Golden Retriever, who danced at our glass door, and welcomed himself in.
The Akita, I found the owner on Community Facebook. "Thanks for finding my ugly dog," he said humorously, and carted off his corpulent canine. The Retriever, I took to the SPCA, where a young girl scanned and found an ID chip implant. He bounced behind the counter, and cheerfully accepted a brand new leash.
Nevertheless, each canine took up the majority of an entire day. And never sent a thank you card. Such is the social diligence of dogs. But I decided to give it a try. I squatted (making myself small), held out both hands (palm up) in his direction, and avoided eye contact (to appear non-threatening). Instantly, his head lifted and he motored toward me, stopping once in the street, when a motorcycle braked to let him pass.
Seemingly of a docile nature, and in no mood to check out my credentials, he let me pick him up. Time was short; I had to get back to Spokane, so I headed in the direction of the Beacon Pub, a few blocks away, where I assume, the dog walker would welcome a new charge. Then, I saw a charismatic-trending couple chilling on a bench, in front of Kaiju Sushi Ba r.
Cradling the dog, I informed them I had found a lost dog, but had to get back to Spokane. The Electric Man and Girl with Sparkling Glasses both smiled; I plopped Fido between them, and let the Cocker cuteness factor close the deal. Noticing a tag with a phone number, they said they would find the owner.
I had a good feeling, snapped a photo, and left. It was a happy dog day.
Maybe Watermelon Slim will sing a song: SLIM
(Article changed on February 16, 2019 at 19:03)