Jacob was a foster child. He grew up in the Foster Pinball Machine. Birth to graduation. He was never adopted by a family.
He and I weren’t good friends, but we knew each other. I lost track of him at age fifteen. He moved away to a group home.
We got in touch a few years ago. I expected to learn he had a wife and kids, but that wasn’t the case. Jacob has animals.
Six dogs, three cats.
I don’t think Jacob would mind me saying that he marches to the beat of his own tuba.
He’s had little choice in the matter. His childhood was spent bouncing from family to family, looking after himself, remembering to eat regularly.
Today, he leads a good life. He’s a restaurant cook, he likes to hike, camp, and he’s had the same girlfriend for ten years.
I asked about all his animals.
“I dunno,” he said. “Just love animals.
Growing up, I was never allowed to have any.”
Jacob found his first dog after work one night. It was late. A stray black Lab was
sniffing trash cans behind a restaurant.
The dog bolted when it heard footsteps.
Jacob tried to coax it with food. The dog wasn’t interested. So, Jacob resorted to heavy artillery.
Raw ground beef.
He left an entire package on the pavement. The dog still wouldn’t come. Jacob gave up and crawled into his car to leave. Before he wheeled away, he glanced in his rear mirror.
The dog was eating a pound of sirloin in one bite.
“Started feeding him every day,” Jacob said. “I just wanted him to know somebody cared, that was it.”
For two months, Jacob cared. He fed the dog from a distance seven nights per week—even when he wasn’t working.
And on one fateful night, the old dog walked straight toward Jacob and had a seat.
“You shoulda seen how he…