When I lived in North Hollywood, I owned a condominium in a 256 unit complex. One day I spotted a small, filthy, severely-matted black poodle wandering around. It looked frightened half to death, and was wary of humans, so I brought her indoors.
After shaving her down—which took hours, as matted as she was—I discovered that she was not just matted but that she was apparently just days away from starving to death. The extreme thickness of her matted fur was the only thing that had made her appear adequately fed. Sheared to her skin, it was easy to see that she was down to skin and bones. I also found a collar around her neck with an address on it once I got down deep enough into her matted fur to discover it.
The address led me to her owners, who happened to live in the same complex. I knocked on the door. A woman answered, spotted the dog in my arms, and frowned as if I was returning a discarded piece of garbage.
I confirmed that the dog was indeed hers, and then asked if she wanted it.
I said, “OK, I’ll keep her, if that’s all right with you”—which I hoped it was, because I certainly didn’t want to relinquish the animal to her if I could get away with it.
She said, “Sure, but can you pay something for her?”
I looked at her, incredulous. I wanted to say, “Pay you for neglecting and ignoring her needs until she nearly starved to death? Not only no, but hell no. You’re damned lucky I don’t report you to the Humane Society.”
But I managed to control my temper. I responded, “No, I can’t. I’ll take her off your hands, but I’m not really in the market for a dog who may not even live, as starved and sickly as she is.”
The woman waved me away, saying, “That’s okay. You can have her.”
I named her Angel, because she quickly lost her fear of me and became one of the loves of my life. She turned out to love kids, and I took her to the hospital with me to cheer the patients I was visiting at the time (Carolyn and DeForest Kelley). Unfortunately, she got car sick repeatedly, every mile or so, in moving vehicles, so I had to stop taking her with me, but not because she wasn’t a fabulous hospital dog.
Another condo owner and I struck up a friendship because we walked our poodles at about the same time three times a day. His poodle was ancient; the man had thought nothing of spending a fortune on her in vet bills to keep her perking along for as long as possible, but it was apparent that, happy as the little dog was, she was definitely on her last legs. Several months later, his dog died and he volunteered to take Angel for her walks. He was missing his dog terribly.
Several months later, the man let me know that he had sold his condo and was moving to a single family home with a huge back yard in New Mexico. He said he was going to miss Angel and me, but I knew it was really Angel he was going to miss. So knowing that she’d have a better life with him than she would with me there at the condo complex, I told him I’d appreciate it if he would take her with him. It half killed me to do it—I loved that little dog—but he needed Angel and I knew Angle would have a better life with him, so I did it.
He sent me holiday cards with photos of “our” Angel having a ball in all kinds of weather in his new back yard. I knew I’d made the right decision but I miss her to this day. She really was an angel…