When Oh Papa was first listed on Petfinder by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, he was called Red. It’s funny to think of him having that name, even for only a few days. Every once in a while I say it to him, to see if he remembers the time before we met. What I’m really hoping for is for him to tell me where he came from. His first year is such a mystery. He was hit by either one or two cars, accounts vary but it’s too heartbreaking to think of it happening twice and so I always say one. Someone saw him and brought him to the hospital, where the kind doctors patched him all up. His bills were paid for by the Picasso Veterinary Fund, an incredible fund that covers the medical needs of injured abandoned animals. I was unsure about getting a dog for all the reasons everyone gives. I went to the hospital and they let him out of the cage where he was recuperating. He was wearing a cone around his neck and his left back leg was shaved. He was so well taken care of by everyone there. He walked right up to me, laid his chin in my lap and he was mine. I hear similar stories a lot from other people. Not the hospital part or the getting hit by a car part but the part where they just had this immediate conviction that this dog belonged with them. I feel this so strongly that it seems like even if I hadn’t gone to the hospital that day, Oh Papa would’ve been waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home.Oh Papa’s name comes from a book about a father and son trying to survive after the world has ended. People seem to think this is a depressing name for a dog but I disagree. The book is about having hope in the face of no hope, and Oh Papa fits that idea, even though he is completely fine and healthy now. Little kids say he looks like a fox. They also like to say his name. They stretch out the Oh for as long as the can, until their parents call them in for dinner, until they go off to college. Adults try to guess what breed he is and I let them, even though I am often confused about why this is a fun game for them. He has managed to find a lot of work, even in this economy. One of his jobs is to go to the dog park and make sure the perimeters are secure. Another is to walk down the street with great purpose. I like to imagine what he looked like as a puppy, how wobbly and big his head must have been. I’m fairly convinced that he fell from the sky. Like Superman.
About the Author
Starlee Kine is a public radio producer and writer based in New York City. She is a regular contributor to This American Life. She loves very good or very bad television. She writes about the good shows at Capital and the bad ones at Vulture.