Frank’s wild year

Mrs. Bites brought home this ridiculous dog. Frank, we called him.

You know how it goes with these street dogs. They’re all lost and scared, and you stop to ask, “Hey, buddy. Where do you live?” And then they’re riding home with you, hanging their snouts out the window. That’s how it was with Frank and Mrs. Bites.

Sweet little dog. No collar, un-neutered, running wild along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. He wasn’t even a year old and looked like some sort of unfortunate mash up of pit bull and wiener dog. Pit wiener.

A bit too humpy for the official Bites family dog. Still, they got along just fine, once she set him straight. Frank was called Frank because he talked just like Tom Waits. At least that’s how Bites imagined him talking, during our little conversations.

Being great lovers of weird critters, Bites’ kids, Nibbles and Bits, of course fell in love with Frank right away. “Can we keep him?” they whined. “Are you kidding?” Bites whined back. “You don’t even walk the dog you have now.” “Pet my belly,” Frank whined.

Even without a collar, he still might be somebody’s dog. Either way, there really wasn’t room in the Bitescave for a humpy pup. He’d go to the city’s animal shelter on Front Street. Surely, he’d be claimed or adopted soon. Cute little weirdo dog like that.

“They don’t just kill dogs,” Bites assured the kids.

Mrs. Bites and Nibbles and Bits went to visit him in the shelter, asked shelter staff for updates. The three of them were caucusing, and it was becoming clear that if Frank wasn’t adopted soon, he’d be coming home with us again. Mrs. Bites had explicitly told staff at the shelter, “If there’s any danger of him being put to sleep, we want to take him.”

A few days went by, then a week. But Frank was in limbo, he never appeared on the adoption list, and no word that he’d been claimed.

She sent another inquiring email. “I just want to be sure he went to a good home.”

The city replied a couple of days later. “Unfortunately, this dog was put to sleep because of behavioral issues. He was extremely competitive with objects and not people-oriented. Thanks.”

That was it. Like the man said, nasty, brutish and short.

What were they even talking about? “Competitive with objects?” What dog—what puppy—isn’t competitive with objects?

Once, Frank took off with one of Bites’ socks. He plainly thought that was hilarious. A chase ensued, “Drop it!” More chasing, eventually the sock was tugged free. Not exactly a capital offense.

As for his being “not people-oriented,” that seems even more absurd. Frank padded after anyone who left the room for even a second, and curled up underfoot whenever he got the chance. People oriented? Frank needed people so damn bad.

At this writing, the kids still don’t know. They’re going to feel betrayed.

It was clearly a mistake assuming that animal care would care for Frank.

But what happened? Maybe the stress of being abandoned in the shelter changed Frank’s personality so that he flunked their behavior test? Or maybe the city killed a perfectly sweet—if funny looking—dog because of some bureaucratic fuck up, exacerbated by the new city-that-works-for-no-one era of government.

After all, a couple of weeks back, the director of the city’s animal shelter, Gina Knepp, was quoted in this very paper: “Our business here at the Front Street shelter is to save as many lives as we can.” She added that funding was awful but that, “I am still going to bust my ass to make sure those protections happen” (see “For the dogs” by Jimmy Spencer, Frontlines, March 29).

Wish that turned out to be true. Still, it’s Bites’ fault for not knowing better.