I’ve always loved dogs, but I’ve never owned one. Not because I haven’t wanted to but because every apartment and home I’ve lived in prohibited owning one. When I heard recently about the stranded pup lost in Blue Hole, my heart hurt.
I’m more of what you’d call a foster mom. There’s a long list – Sox, Riley, and dozens of others – too many to name, of dogs I’ve loved and fed. It doesn’t really help that my husband Ken is a dog magnet, the canine version, of course. If a dog comes within 20 feet of him, it tugs at a leash or breaks away in a mad dash to get close to him. I get it. I felt the same way when I met the man, too, only I didn’t pant.
My first love affair was with a mutt named Sox. He lived across the street from my parent’s home in Minnesota. Every day my mom would feed him table scraps. The owner of Sox was an adorable boy named Mikey who, every night, would show up with a leash and drag Sox home. It was quite the sight to behold. I’d like to think it was more than the food that brought him over to the Martin house. I’d like to think it was my mom’s loving soul that attracted him. Yes, I’m one of those people who think both dogs and kids have an innate ability to sense the goodness of anybody they meet.
Riley was my second foster dog. Ken and I lived in a guest house in Toluca Woods, California, for a couple years. Visitors dubbed it “The Gingerbread House,” because it was just that sweet inside and out. The owner of the main house worked marathon shifts and was rarely around to tend to the needs of Riley, a Boston terrier. And while it wasn’t part of the rental agreement, we took care of Riley’s needs and loved him like he was our own. When we let him “move in” at the beginning, he took up residence on top of my three square, oversized Laura Ashley designer pillows. At first I was bothered, I have to admit. But that sense of ownership of the pillows melted away the second Riley looked up into my eyes.
At Christmas that first year, we wrapped up a Christmas gift for him and placed it under the tree with all the other gifts. When we came home one night we found Christmas wrap near the front door when we entered and thought, “Oh! Oh!” wondering if he’d unwrapped all of them. But he hadn’t. Only his gift was open, which incidentally didn’t have any animal smell to it at all. Smart dog, right?
Months later, Riley underwent surgery and lost one of his eyes. We nicknamed him, “Pirate Riley,” and he didn’t seem to mind. Years later, we heard from Riley’s owner that the little guy had passed away. My husband and I were quite distraught and paused to remember him and pray for him. He’d brought us hours of joy and laughter and we were grateful.
Some day, Ken and I will live at a property where we can adopt a dog from the Kauai Humane Society. Until then, I’ll share my love with Ipo, the editor-in-chief’s dog who brightens the newsroom in the late afternoon when Bill brings her into the office. Ipo doesn’t directly contribute to our stories, but she is the ideal animal to break the tension of perpetual deadlines. We don’t feed her table scraps. She mostly sleeps. And when she wanders around our desks, she wags her tail. Dogs truly are man’s (and woman’s) best friend.
Lisa Ann Capozzi is a reporter for The Garden Island. She can be reached at email@example.com