Journal entry: August 6, 2005 (age 36)
Journal entry: One night last week, I was walking through our second-floor, Mill Street apartment when I spotted something unusual on the roof of the house next door.
“Is that a dog?!” I said to my wife, Amanda.
We both moved to the window and surveyed the situation. There was, indeed, a very large dog standing on a very small roof that overlooks a 20-foot drop. Behind what we guessed to be a Great Dane, was the wide-open window he had come through. The roof he was standing on was so steep that it was a miracle he had not slid off of it.
This particular house had been the source of many problems for the neighborhood, including frequent screaming matches, police visits, and cab horns blaring at o’dark-thirty. The latest in a string of stellar tenants had moved out about a week ago. Apparently, they had left their dog behind.
I went downstairs and knocked on the door of Dennis and Barbara Bishop, terrific neighbors who are always willing to help. I explained the situation to Dennis as he helped me haul his ladder over to the abandoned home. “What are you going to do once you get up there?” Dennis asked. “Well, the dog has gone back in through the window, so I’ll just go up and close it. If we don’t hurry, the dog may come back out and fall.”
Moments later, I wished I had given Dennis’ question a little more thought. There I was, crawling up the roof on my belly. The slope was even steeper than I thought. As I neared the window, the dog’s huge head popped through it. Our eyes locked, and my mind raced. “What if he’s an attack dog? What if he’s trained to maul anyone who comes near the house? Will he dismiss a rooftop intruder as a meter reader with a poor sense of direction?” After a few tense moments, something in the dog’s eyes softened. As he turned and vanished from the window, I could almost hear him thinking, “You look really ridiculous, dude.”
When I reached my destination, I encountered another problem: I could not close the window. The angle I was at prevented me from getting the proper leverage, so I would have to go inside to do it. I paused for a moment before climbing in, knowing that I would also be entering the pantheon of the gods of stupidity. My well-intentioned, doggie-rescue mission had now devolved into breaking and entering. Once inside, I closed the window most of the way, leaving a few inches open so the dog would be able to get some fresh air. After checking that he had food and water, I made a bee-line through the deserted house to get back outside again.
During the next few days, I made calls to animal welfare groups, and watched the owners check on their “best friend” a few times. Today, they finally took the dog with them. I wonder if they noticed that their window had been lowered and their door unlocked. My guess is they were oblivious, in every sense of the word.