Sitting Indian-style on my coworker’s office floor was beginning to be a regular pastime for me. I was fresh out of college and I was, frankly, super unhappy about cheerleading for a start-up company that was desperately trying to emerge from the abyss of the red into the black. I’d managed to muddle through, and even make sense of, Faulkner novel after Faulkner novel and here I was keeping up appearances via the company’s social media presence and robotically running letters through the Pitney-Bowes prepaid meter machine.
Julie, my 60-something coworker and I would typically chat the day away. Her sitting at her desk texting her mother around the clock and me sitting on the floor by the window finding everything to complain about and nothing to be thankful for. I would look out onto Archer street in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, and wonder when it was going to be 5 o’clock or when I’d find my soulmate; and whichever came sooner I did not care. I’d occasionally get up and crank out another cup of locally-roasted coffee from our ridiculously expensive coffee machine that Julie and I had managed to break (twice), but mostly, I’d spend time working on my submission to Chicago Public Radio’s most famous child, This American Life.
I was applying for an internship at WBEZ where the position required working 60+ hours per week with no pay. I was writing a comical story about a fight I had with one of my dearest friends, Cale, who passed away almost 6 years ago. I edited and nitpicked down to every last semi-colon (I really love semi-colons) until I had to finally turn in my work, cross my fingers and hope that Ira Glass would read my essay and say, “Yes, this girl’s TAL material. Fly her out to Chicago immediately and set her up in a penthouse downtown.”
It was a little after lunch time on a summer day in August and the day had reached a lull where the only people left in the building were me, Julie and a couple of graphic designers upstairs who hadn’t poured their first beer from the Kegerator across from my desk yet. I gazed up from whatever meaningless task (probably taping receipts to white paper for expense reports) I was executing on the floor in Julie’s office and saw Phillip walking down the sidewalk, steering his bike handlebar in one hand and holding a floppy, brindle puppy in the other. I jumped up, nearly wiping out trying to get to the door to let him in, and almost smacked him in the face when I flung it open.
“GIVE HIM TO ME!” I gasped. I ran into Julie’s office and with a wide-eyed grin I said in my best Holly Hunter impression, “He’s an angel!”
“Where’d he find that?” Julie spoke with her usual matter-of-fact attitude.
“Hurry, let’s get him some food and water, he must be so tired!”
I asked Phillip what happened and he told me that he was riding his bike back from lunch when he saw this little puppy running down Archer street with a lady trying to catch him, but he just kept running away from her. I asked if he belonged to that lady and he ensured me that no, she was just trying to get him off the street. He said it was like playing Frogger watching her try to catch this poor, scared puppy. Phillip said the little guy ran right to him, so he picked him up and figured he’d bring him to the office.
We went into the kitchen, got a square Tupperware container from the cabinet and filled it with water. “Well? He’s going to need food!” I said, in desperation.
We began to rummage through the fridge for something we could give the little man (Oh, my little prince!). I found a package of Sara Lee deli turkey and ripped it open. I started feeding my tiny little pet piece after piece of turkey until Julie finally chirped in with, “Hey dude, he might get sick if you keep feeding him at that rate,” but I didn’t care. All I knew was that I was going to take care of him from now on and that he was going to be my little boy. He drank a little bit of water and I took him back into Julie’s office where he curled up into a tiny ball and fell asleep. I wrote a note that said, “Sorry, don’t eat this, will replace later,” and ran into the kitchen to slap it on top of the existing two slices of deli turkey in the container.
This is the very first picture I took of Ira on Julie’s office floor!
“That’s it, I’m leaving for the day and I’m taking him to the vet. Tell the guys I won’t be back until tomorrow.” I gathered up my things, picking him up last and cradling him in my arms.
I took him to my amazing veterinarian and told her how he walked into my life and STOLE MY HEART. She nodded her head, rolled her eyes lovingly and asked me how many more dogs I was going to take home. I had a reputation for finding dogs, bringing them to her to get vetted, growing super attached to them and then finding them homes. I told her that this one was mine, and to do the full work up. Whatever he needed, momma was gonna get it for him. She aged him at about 4-6 months, gave him de-worming medicine, flea and tick treatment and we scheduled to have him neutered soon thereafter. I told her how amazed I was at how mild his temperament was. She told me to give him a few days to start feeling better and that he’d perk up. I brought him home and introduced him to my only other dog at the time, Chinook, a then 9-year-old Malamute mix who didn’t seem to care too much for him, but she mainly goes unseen anyhow (those moots are painfully independent!). Once I knew she would at least tolerate him, I grew very happy, and we went to Southern Agriculture to get him all the things he could possibly ever want or need. I ran into an old friend there, telling him I had just hit the jackpot and found the cutest creature on the planet. And then I took him back home where we began to build our life together…
Ira working with me on my desk during that first week at work.
Oh, that Dr. Mary was right, and he did show me his true colors about a week later after all the worms had been pooped out and he had a decent lineup of delicious meals in his repertoire. He had forgotten all about those days on the streets and he left no leaf unturned. The world was his oyster and my house was his playground. But whatever he destroyed then I seemed to have completely blocked out of my memory, because my now husband always has to remind me how bad he was when we first started dating (only about 6 weeks after I brought the little boy home).
“So what’d you decide to name him?” Julie asked me at work the next day.
And In my best nasal impression of Chicago Public Radio’s most loveable mascot, I replied, “From WBEZ In Chicago, this is Ira Glass.”
Main image by Jeremy Lamberton.
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