Last month we adopted a yearling dog from a shelter. We don’t know her story, but I imagine it could have been something like this.
She had a different name once.
She was a good dog and well-behaved. She did her business outside and liked going for walks. Grandpa took care of her and fed her treats.
Grandpa lived in an old neighborhood, rebuilt after the wall. Small houses and rooves all higgledy-piggledy against one another, little streets and small courtyards all jumbled and gathered. The people knew the houses by who lived there and who owned them.
The future came knocking. The neighborhood was going away, and the construction companies would pay.
Grandpa’s children and grandchildren came and convinced him to take the money, a fortune for them, and move in with them in their apartment. They could take care of Grandpa, and the plumbing was much better.
But there wasn’t enough space for the good dog.
Grandpa insisted that they take the good dog with them, and after much deliberation, they agreed. They would pick her up together with his things.
And Grandpa went with them to his new home.
The next day they came for Grandpa’s vintage record player and his photo albums. But they left the good dog, because, honestly, there was no room in their apartment. And the neighbors would complain about a dog. She was a good dog and she didn’t bark, but they didn’t know that.
And the good dog waited for Grandpa to come back.
Many neighborhood dogs waited for their owners to come back as the houses became empty.
They scavenged for scraps and grew thin.
There were no more people in the neighborhood.
The skinny dog waited for Grandpa to come back.
People came into the neighborhood, with vans and nets and tranquilizer guns. They rounded up dozens of abandoned dogs, including the good skinny dog. She was put in a cage and whimpered and cried and rubbed her snout raw on the bars of her prison.
Other people came and took her picture and shared a story, hoping someone would adopt her.
The good dog was pregnant and starving when the people with the van picked her up. All three of her puppies were stillborn. Her old neighborhood had been bulldozed. They had waited 10 days for her owners to come for her, but they had not. She had two more weeks, then they would put her down.
We read her story.
It was 13 days old. The next day at noon she was due to be put down.
What was her name before? Did she have a Grandpa?
Maybe. She was trained and socialized.
But we don’t know.
She has another name now.