Another perk of working here is we have little Leo Alvarado, a one-year-old astrological Leo, look at us as though we’re sources of high entertainment. Leo’s schedule puts him here on Wednesdays. He gets right to work pulling papers out of piles and placing corn bags in the cornhole. He smooshes his face on the window starting with his forehead, then his nose, chin, ear and finally, tongue. All five make him laugh.
He stands on his own but hasn’t seen anything interesting enough to compel him to pick up one foot and then the other to go get it.
He likes music he can bounce to without falling over and if he falls over he straightens up, butt first, and does it again. He eats all food he’s fed except lettuce.
He goes to sleep like he just had a wreck – suddenly and totally.
Then there’s Ocho and Frog. Frog the Dog.
Ocho came to the house on Sept. 11, 2010. That was a Saturday and the CAPC had an official recognition of 9/11, flags and whatnot all over downtown. I walked by Bobbie Bates’s chair on S. Main, remember her? She manned the animal shelter posterboard next to the funnel cake place? She was there every day, every weather.
I looked at pictures of dogs and cats and saw a border collie named Sebastian and thought, “I could change that name in a New York minute,” and drove to the shelter to adopt him. He was 8 weeks old and had a figure 8 on his back, so his name became Ocho. His brown eyes convey the loveliest Spanish has to offer.
He’s 10 now, and he was getting complacent and sleepy and spoiled and even though he likes Coldplay and Huey Lewis & The News, he was starting to sleep through them.
This April, when covid gloom flourished into an emotional aircraft carrier, I went back to the shelter and got the worst possible dog ever. She had been apartmentalized, caged, hollered at, abandoned and returned several times. She peed a lot.
I took her home and Ocho gave her attitude and I learned to not use my hands to break up a dog fight. I didn’t let her in the house for two weeks. When I did, she destroyed everything I held dear.
I renamed her because I didn’t want her to have any memory of back then.
She’s big and strong and has different colored eyes. One friend told me that her dad always said those are the dogs you shoot.
But last Sunday before getting ready for my garage meeting that didn’t happen, I fed the dogs and perhaps overdid it. I was making myself an omelet that was on the rich side, so I made them one, too.
An hour later Ocho walked into the living room and puked every grain he had in him. Anyone who’s ever owned a dog or cat knows that you paper towel it, scour it, then bury it in baking soda and let it sit like fine cognac for a couple of days before you vacuum it and deal with the stain.
But the most amazing thing happened. Frog the Dog dragged her blanket and covered the throw-up so I wouldn’t see it and Ocho wouldn’t be embarrassed.
The second amazing thing is that Sunday is Grandparents Day, and Leo, Ocho and Frog the Dog keep showing me delightful things as though I’ll remember them.