Streets Dogs of South Central
Today, as part of my "What the Gays are Watching on YouTube" series, a trailer for a documentary I found aptly titled Street Dogs of South Central.
This is a feature film produced in part by Animal Planet and Lions Gate Television. It tells the tale of Elsie and her puppies as they weather the streets of Los Angeles.
The reason it is particularly dear to my heart, is because my dog Charlie is from South Central. In fact, Charlie looks a lot like the star of this film - what we call at the dog park the LA Ubiquitous Black Dog (a hodge-podge of the popular dogs in this town, all watered down - lab, pit, terrier).
The mug shot they had on file for Charlie at the pound was inauspicious to say the least. She did not enjoy being roped and grabbed from the street (and named Rufus by the handlers at Animal Services). I spent four hours the first day downtown going through all the dogs very carefully. At the end of the day, I asked them to print out a photo of "Rufus" to take home. I put the photo on my coffee table that night and pondered as my then-girlfriend noted, "That dog looks psychotic and rabid".
My best friend Dale was just as helpful. "Why are you getting a dog from the South Central Pound? Don't you know it'll be diseased?"
My second day at the pound I noticed most of the dogs from day one were gone, including Charlie's cel mate, a rottie. A mother dog and all her puppies that I had played with were also euthanized as well as 25 six-toed cats. All were from disease.
The handlers and workers were all really great, and I could tell they were doing their best. After going through all the cages, playing with the dogs I finally decided on Rufus, who I quickly renamed Charlese Furon.
Well, first, my friend was right. Charlie came home and proceeded to be deathly ill for 5 days. I don't even think I can recount her first bath. Or should I say her first 12 baths including a de-flea and a de-tick by a very squeamish me. Suffice it to say, she was disgusting on arrival. I won't even tell you how many ticks I pulled off of her. Meanwhile, she could barely even stand in the bath tub she was so sick.
I thought getting a full grown dog would mean no house training. I was wrong. I had to teach her everything. Luckilly, she was a quick learn. Charlie was profoundly obedient and attentive, although always quite sad and petrified. Her particular traits included a total fear of humans, although completely socialized and friendly with dogs. You also could not raise your voice to this dog. To this day, a gentle "no" is all it takes. She is strangely sensitive and she will curl up with her tail between her legs in a corner if there is any anger or conflict around (which is some times trying when I take her to work with me at a film production office!).
Charlie is also always happy. I don't think I've ever had a happier dog. Her energy is just amazing. So good spirited, so gentle. She is a big hit in the neighborhood, and at all the offices I've taken her to. She was even a star in my last film, SHELTER.
Now that she is no longer scared of people, she loves them. She especially loves little children and babies. Charlie has an incredible memory, and if she sees an old friend after months (or even years) she gets so excited, barking and wagging her tail.
There might be a moral here. Oh, I got one of these street dogs - something thrown away by our society - that is now one of the biggest joys of my life. Just having Charlie's energy in the house, around me all the time is just a wonderful, peaceful and loving addition to my life.
It's been five years since she was on the streets and now Charlie loves going to coffee houses, hanging out at the office, making new friends and she's even been on several vacations and work trips with me (so far she's been to San Fran, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Idlewild and the Santa Ynez wine country - I've basically snuck her into the finest hotels in SoCal). When I let her, she is also a big cuddler.
The one strange thing I've noticed is that she doesn't like carrots. In fact, I can't seem to feed her anything healthy. After some experimenting, the only people food she'll eat is blueberries and tomatoes. What the fuck?
To find out more about Street Dogs of South Central, visit http://www.myspace.com/elsiedog
As always, please get your dog from a shelter or rescue. PLEASE! I can't believe in this day and age with all these poor creatures being killed, abandoned, starving I have to type the words "Don't buy a pure bred. Don't buy from a puppy mill. "
Seriously, since the first six months, my dog is healthy, has no behavior problems, needs no special training or diet. Completely low maintenance and lovely to boot.
My friend Lydia recently adopted a Ubiquitous Black Dog from the shelter. Lucy had many of the same shyness issues, but is coming out of them nicely. Here she is with Charlie playing in the Encino park. Once again, a far cry from the streets.
An interesting note, black coated dogs and cats are the least likely to be adopted. Once again, very odd.
If you'd like to help out the dogs of downtown LA, please visit http://www.downtowndogrescue.org/about.htm. Even if you're not adopting, you can always buy a calendar or t shirt to support them (or make a donation).