You never know who you’re going to meet on the train. And I mean that literally. You really never know who.
I swear the world’s craziest, looniest, and most bizarre people are attracted to the commuter trains like flies to horse s—t. Of course you find the ones who talk to themselves, and the ones who ask “where is this train going?” after the conductor has announced the final destination 18 times over the public announcement system. There are always the newly released from the social rehab system (aka County Lock-Up) and the obnoxiously loud crew that must be moving somewhere because they have 12 over-stuffed bags they are dragging along with them, and then piling up right in the middle of the central aisle. Naturally, you have the fare jumpers, who actually try to pick fights with the sheriffs that come through and check your tickets… cuz that always works out in their favor. My favorite was the guy who tried to argue that since the train opened its doors, he should have been allowed to board (without a ticket, of course).
Yep. He actually tried to say the train shouldn’t have opened its doors when it arrived at the station if you are not allowed to board without a ticket.
I thought I had met them all.
Then there was this past Thursday. As I’m sitting in my seat, reading my book about the history of the sextant and celestial navigation, I hear a trio of women behind me ooh-ing and ahhh-ing followed by comments of “who could do something like this” and “how could you live with yourself.” I admit, I was nosy, and I kept turning around to see what was going on, but all I could see was the women themselves.
Finally, at one point, I turned around and noticed one of the women holding a dog. A tiny, tiny, tiny dog. And then she said, “don’t worry. Someone is going to take you home.” That’s when I finally started putting all the pieces together – somebody had left this little guy on the train! I asked the trio just to make sure, and they confirmed my suspicion. They had found him sitting right on one of the seats, shivering and cowering, and after inquiring in the immediate vicinity, determined that he had been abandoned.
Well, I rushed over and picked up the little guy myself. How could somebody leave that adorable face??? And I made a decision right then and there: I was taking him home. I couldn’t leave something that precious behind.
Thus, a 24-hour journey of animal rescue started, and a whole new world of beauty opened up to me. One of my buddies on the train – who also brings a bicycle – explained that the puppy had been wandering around the train station, and the station’s security guard placed the guy on the train in the hopes that this exact process would happen: someone would find him and take him home.
Then, my bike buddy, A, helped me get Skittle – as I dubbed the little guy – comfortably placed in my bicycle’s basket and ready for the trip home from LA Union Station. I didn’t bike the whole way as I often do, but rather took the subway, where little Skittle just sat calmly and quietly in the basket looking around with his big, fruit-bat eyes. When I reached my subway station, I only had about a mile to go to get home, so I decided to try it out. How would Skittle respond to a ride in a bike’s basket?
What a trooper! He just sat there while I slowly pedaled home, his head swiveling around to take in all the sights and smells. No attempts to jump from the basket. No signs of fear that he was in a moving basket.
I was already head over heels in love.
Then came the next step: telling J. I texted him and advised him to come home as quickly as possible because I had something to show him. And when I heard him coming up the walkway to our apartment, I opened the front door to greet him… he gave me a questioning look, but I gestured for him to come inside where Skittle was sitting right next to my feet.
“Oh my gosh!! Where did he come from?”
I told J the whole story, and in the time it took me to tell him what had happened, he too was in love with little Skittle. I explained that I wanted to try and see if Skittle was microchipped, and then at the very least, we could foster him until we found him a good home. “No, we’re keeping him,” was J’s immediate response to that latter proposal. He agreed we should check Skittle’s microchip status, but if we could not locate Skittle’s owners, than no fostering. No seeking out a good home. Skittle was here to stay.
J ran out to buy dog food and a leash, and he was all set to get a dog bed, blankets, dog waste bags, and more, but I tried to gently remind him that Skittle wasn’t ours just yet. We had to see if he belonged to someone. I thought about a family out there, missing this little guy something fierce, and I knew I couldn’t keep Skittle without at least checking. I knew how I would feel if Skittle were my dog, and I had lost him.
Because the fact that Skittle was found in a train station, and then put on the train by a security guard, changed the face of the abandonment story. It was very possible that he wasn’t just left behind by some thoughtless douche, but a lost pet who had wandered into the station on his own…
Such a cute face!
He spent the night with us, snuggling up with J and me, and the next morning we headed out to the Humane Society to check his microchip status. I’ll admit, I was hoping. I was hoping that he wasn’t microchipped, or if he was, the chip had never been registered. I was in love with the little guy and wanted to keep him!!
But that hope was not to come to fruition. Skittle was microchipped, and his chip was registered. The Humane Society contacted the owner, who was ecstatic to find out that her beloved dog had been found. I spoke with the owner too, so we could arrange to drop Skittle off with her, and she was near tears, she was so happy. She explained that Skittle – whose real name is Wheezy – had jumped the backyard fence a few days ago and disappeared. He had managed to wander a whopping 15 miles (!!) before he was found in the train station… Wow. Wow. Wow.
Next came that bittersweet, heart-breaking, heart-warming moment that we both love and hate: the return of Skittle to his owner. J and I were sad to see the little guy go. Very sad. But we were so happy we found his real home, and when we handed him off, we saw the tension and the fear melt away. Skittle was ecstatic too. He was going home. Therefore, as much as we would have loved to keep him, we knew we were doing the right thing. And we found real comfort in that. So, after a few final hugs and doggie kisses on the cheek, we bid Skittle a fond farewell. Then we went home and relished in the warm feelings of the good thing we had done, and the look on the owner’s face when she was reunited with her beloved Wheezy.
But our journey isn’t over yet. We fell so in love with Skittle that we’re getting our own dog. Today. Time to rescue another little guy and give him or her a good home. The journey continues.