I want to go on record and say I write this column with extreme trepidation. Pet care is on my highest priority list and although everyone doesn’t see a pet as a family member to love and care for, many of us do. Thus said, read on at your own discretion.
Recently I was in my front yard at 4am watching my two tiny dogs select the exact location they needed to do their business, when I spotted what looked like an official City of Baytown dog catchers truck creeping down the street. The truck was idling with the head beams out and as it passed under the street light, I could make out a large smile on the driver’s face, as he scanned back and forth.
“Oh Lord a’mercy!” I squealed and called my two precious pups to me. I didn’t have my doggies on a leash, as they were in my front yard, but I sure as the Dicken’s didn’t want a fine, so I ran backwards, my Ninja Turtles pajamers a’flappin’ and set them inside the front door. I hoped in vain that the driver didn’t see me and my doggies, but alas, he ominously stopped in front of my house.
Now, like Jim Finley, I have successfully evaded the law probably one time too many, but when the cab light came on, I could plainly see the man was signaling me. “Rats! Busted!” I looked back at my doe-eyed Shi-Tzu and Papillion/Pomeranian mix and it was if they knew we were in deep doo-doo.
Walking outside, I headed down the drive and came up to the passenger-side window. The first thing that hit me was the heavenly smell of bacon and incense. In a trusting voice sounding like Joe Biden, he said “Hello my friend. Would you like a treat?”
I was hesitant as the hooded man asked pointing at the huge box of fried bacon. His accent was so odd; it took me a second to realize what he said, but that voice…
“Uh, what?” I muttered, as I leaned in and not taking my eyes off the hidden and shadowy apparition, I took a piece of bacon and mechanically began to chew.
“Aaa, you wanna give up dos doggies?” He chuckled lightly after speaking and I found for some odd reason, I immediately trusted the fellow. Helping myself to a second stick of savory fried pork, I finally said the first thing that came to mind.
“Uh, what do you mean friend?” His infectious grin made me smile, even as I licked my fingers. I had the desire to sit on my haunches, but remained upright. I liked the guy. He was someone I could trust.
“De dogs. I catch de dogs. I am the de best of de best of de best dog catcher. I want dem dogs.” Again the chuckle and danged if I didn’t chuckle with him. That smile spoke wonders. I realized it really didn’t matter what he said, as long as the bacon kept flowing and he kept smiling.
“Who are you and why are you out at this time of morning friend?” I blurted as I scratched behind my ear. It was about this time that I heard the snuffing sounds coming from the back of his truck and looking closely, I could make out wet noses in the caged area.
His name was as unknown to me as his accent and I forgot it the second he said it – twice, as the first and last names were the same, but what he said next made me drop my bacon on the street.
“I am de best dog catcher in de five counties. I catch de most dogs. Tonight, I catch seven, but will have 3 or 2 time dat many before de people wakes up. I love catching dogs so much, I sometimes lure dem right out de back yard with dis bacon.” Although I couldn’t see his eyes for the shadows, the smile was as big as ever.
I was speechless, but the man was so friendly and engaging that it took a minute to realize the monstrosity of his statement. Whoever said old dogs can’t learn was wrong.
“You work for the City of Baytown?” is all I can think of to say and the man chuckles again and I smile.
“No, I work for de highest bidder in (his voice is slightly muffled and I don’t really hear him) and dey buy de dog. I sell maybe a hunerd a week. Is good business.”
“Just in Baytown? You grab a hundred dogs a week in Baytown?” Now I was getting angry, but was still mesmerized by the man’s voice.
“Oh de heck no. I drive all over de counties. I jus do Baytown ever two week.” He chuckles and I have heard all I can handle and grabbing a fist full of bacon, I step away and inform him I am “calling Johnny law!”
I wasn’t prepared for his response, but threw myself away from the truck when he lights up the back tires in a most god-awful rubber-burning exhibition which sets off car alarms on both sides of the street. The smoking tires and dogs barking confused me to the point that I didn’t get a license plate or DOT number from the side of his truck, I’m sad to confess.
The cloying odor of burnt rubber and deep-fried bacon lingered long after the heinous dog thief was gone, but not the warning he left. You see, it took all of that to wake up a sleeping neighborhood, as all of us think we are safe. We are told repeatedly that we are and by honest looking people with soft voices and big smiles. Keep your pets safe folks. There are bad people out there.