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  • I met BJ fourteen years ago. This is how we met.

    BJ is suffering from a degenerative bone disease that affects his hips. He has difficulty getting around these days. But, he doesn't complain or whine. He just hobbles about.

    I don't know how much time we have together, but I dread saying the last goodbye. My writing about him is a cathartic process for me. Hopefully, others may learn something from it. But, regardless of what happens, BJ will live on forever in the hearts and minds of my family and friends everywhere. What follows is not your typical dog-lover story because BJ is not your typical dog.

    The beginning:

    I will never forget the day I met BJ. It was July 3, 1998. I was on my way home. It was about 9:30 pm. I was driving my car on Rising Sun Boulevard in Philadelphia. The streets were moderately busy on that warm summer night. Children were darting about with firecrackers and roman candles. It was the eve before the Fourth of July.

    A traffic light stopped my old '88 Oldsmobile at a very large and busy intersection. Three streets intersected here at odd angles. Pedestrians must be keenly aware of all the traffic moving in all directions to cross the intersection safely.

    While I waited for the light to change, I casually looked to my left and saw him. A puffy ball of golden fur that was seemingly searching for his someone. He looked lost and scared. “What a pretty dog.” I thought.

    I wanted to take him home, except I had no home. I was living in my sister's basement amid soiled linens and dirty laundry. I was barely taking care of myself financially, emotionally or physically. Assuming responsibility of a pet was out of the question. No, I reasoned, it was not a good idea. I was nearly homeless.

    Suddenly, the little dog entered into the intersection, a large SUV had to swerve to avoid hitting him. My heart jumped! The dog was not aware the meaning of the red traffic signal.

    The cute dog returned to the curb only to attempt the crossing again. Headlights and a howling horn forced him back to the safety of the sidewalk. Each attempt he made was marked by his peculiar circular prancing motion. He would abruptly pivot on his rear right leg, putting himself in the path of an oncoming car.

    To make matters worse, in the dim light I saw the silhouettes of three children who were throwing stones at him as he tried to cross the intersection. “Monsters!” I thought, “this poor dog doesn't stand a chance!”

    A blaring horn from behind signaled me that the light had turned green and that I was free to drive on. A glance into my rear view mirror confirmed that several cars had queued up behind me. I had to act quickly before impatient motorists would try to pass my car, adding more confusion to the traffic pattern.

    This animal had to be saved! I quickly parked my car about a half block away and ran back to the scene. When I got there the children were gone. Only the little dog was there in the cool flourescent light of the corner service station. He had successfully traversed the street and was on safe ground. As I cautiously approached him, his fluffy tail began wagging. I looked down on him. He looked up at me. His pointy ears folded down as if in preparation to be petted on his head.

    “Where is your master?” I asked him. He said nothing. I checked his furry neck for some sort of identification. He had no collar. I looked around for anyone that might be missing a dog. Strangely, there was no one around except for a disinterested garage mechanic in the service station.

    “I think you better come home with me.” I told him, “Come on, let's go.”

    Amazingly, the little dog understood and followed me to my car. I opened the door and he jumped right in. Luckily, we were only minutes away from my sister's house. As I drove home to safety, the little dog immediately began licking my face. “Hey cut it out, crazy dog! What am I going to do with you?” I asked.

    I estimate that BJ, a Pomeranian, was at least 6 years old when I met him. He has had surgery and he walks with a limp. But he loves getting attention from strangers when we go for our daily walks.

    To be continued.
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