Birmingham, Alabama—I’ll call him Denny. Denny lived in a rundown part of town. His was a rundown house with plywood over a busted window.
He drove a truck for a living, he supported his four-person family. But families aren’t cheap, and driving a semi isn’t exactly a rich man’s job.
One evening, Denny came home to an empty house. He found a note on his refrigerator. His wife had left him for another, and taken his kids.
It was a cruel blow.
He was in a sad state for the following year. He says he contemplated ending it all with a bottle of pills.
“Just couldn’t,” he said. “Gott’em to my mouth a couple times, but didn’t have the guts.”
One weekend, a knock on his door. It was a little girl. She was looking for a dog.
“He’s a brown Lab,” she said. “His name’s Bo, and he’s kinda fat.”
Denny told her he hadn’t seen any Labs. Her face grew long. She thanked him and walked away with her head down.
He thought about her all day. She reminded him of his own daughter. Something came over him. He laced his shoes and hit the neighborhood streets.
He spent the weekend walking house to house, asking neighbors if they’d seen a chocolate-colored dog. He estimated that he knocked on seventy doors. Seventy.
He developed blisters on his feet and a sore lower back.
He was met with a string of sorry-haven’t-seen-hims. And he was about to give up, until he knocked on a door in a neighborhood that was a few miles away.
A woman answered. She told him a stray came into her yard days earlier. A brown dog. She’d carried it to a no-kill shelter.
Denny could’ve kissed her.
At the shelter, he found the sleeping dog behind a chain-link kennel gate. But the shelter wouldn’t let Denny adopt—not right away. This is the twenty-first century. Adopting a dog is like applying to become a pilot for the NASA 2020 Mars mission.
They subjected Denny to a background check, an interview, and he paid a stiff adoption fee.
“Man,” he said. “It was worth it. Felt good knowing that kid was gonna be happy ‘cause of something I did. I can’t describe it. Animals are good for the soul, man.”
Soon, Denny was driving home with a Labrador in his backseat. He rapped on the girl’s door. It was the quintessential Lassie-Come-Home greeting. Licks on the face, childish laughter.
“Something happened to me, man,” he said. “I just realized that there’s lotta good stuff out there, I just gotta get off my ass and look for it.”
Well, I wish I could tell you that everything worked out in the end, but this is life. Things don’t always work out in the end.
Denny is divorced now, he still doesn’t get to see his kids very often. He still lives in a rundown home with plywood on the windows.
But don’t feel sorry for him. Because Denny is not sad anymore. In fact, he claims he’s as happy as he’s ever been.
Ever since he quit his job and began working at an animal shelter.