On September 3rd, 2011, I went to my old apartment for the first time since the accident months ago and saw my dog, Leroy! I had graduated to only using a cane to assist my walking at this point. My mom, my friend Rebecca, and I got to the apartment and thousands of memories came flooding back.
The story of how we acquired and named this dog starts on March 27th, 2005. A bit before this day, I had been very sick with a springtime flu and I had not left my apartment for over a week. It was a Sunday, and I woke up and wanted to go out to breakfast. My friend got excited and said “You are gonna leave the house!?! Anywhere you want to go, let’s go!” My other roommate wanted to join us, so I directed us to get on a bus we never ride, to a place in Brooklyn that we never go, and to find a diner that we had never been to. We ended up in Ft. Green, Brooklyn.
After a meal that I still could not even taste because of my sickness, one of my roommates said “Ft. Green Park is like a block away. Do you want to walk through it?” It was a beautiful day and it sounded like a pretty nice change in my industrial scenery to see some nature. So we were walking through the part when we encountered a man who had found a pit bull abandoned and tied to a tree for two days. He asked if we wanted the dog. I initially said no… I didn’t have time and neither did my roommates, but my oldest friend and roommate told me this, “I have always wanted a dog and you have always had a dog. You are right that you don’t have time, and I don’t have time, but I work days, and you work nights, and TOGETHER, we have time.” I looked at the dog, who was the most handsome dog that I’ve ever seen, and I said “OK… Let’s take him home tonight and we can call the humane society tomorrow.” My oldest friend and roommate knew that we weren’t going to call the humane society. He knew that we had a dog now. A dog who was probably a year old, weighed about 60 lbs of pure muscle, and tugged like crazy on his cheap collar. I told my roommates that we needed a better leash and collar, and they ran off to a pet store nearby while I stayed with the dog to see what he knew.
He didn’t seem to know a single command. I told him to sit and he looked at me funny. I walked away from him and called him, and he closed his mouth and tilted his head to the side a little. So I picked up a stick laying on the ground and he got very excited. I said “Oh… You know this game, huh?” and I threw the stick. He chased after it, took the stick with his jaw, and laid down right where it landed. “Come on… you’re supposed to bring it back to me” I said as I reached down for the stick that he was chewing to pieces, and the dog growled at me. I moved back a little and said “Bad… bad…” and then his name came to me: “Leroy Brown… Baddest dog in the whole damn town.”
Leroy was in his crate when I came into the house. And he was so excited that he looked like a little kid that really had to pee and was doing “the pee pee dance.” He hadn’t seen me in 4 months and we used to spend every day together for years. I would have been doing “the pee pee dance” too if I wasn’t in a state where I could barely walk, let alone dance.
I had left him on May 7th, 2011, and I had not returned until now. Jenn had moved in two months after I fell and had been taking care of Leroy with my oldest friend and roommate, and was doing a fantastic job. I can only imagine that, after someone had taken my place after I had been gone for so long, Leroy thought that I too had abandoned him. We all expected him to be overly excited and to jump up on me and knock me over because of my lack of balance.
Despite our concern, when I opened Leroy’s crate, he didn’t jump; he just sniffed the smell of sick people and hospital on my shoes as I bent down to pet and kiss him. He could tell that I was hurt. I don’t know if he pieced together that the reason that I was gone for months was because of this injury, but he was protective of me… He had always been protective of me.
I was so happy to see him. He was my best friend. I used to spend the majority of my time with Leroy. I used to skateboard 9 miles total to Williamsburg and back with him running by my side at least once a week when weather permitted. I used to skate him around my neighborhood in Bushwick Brooklyn almost every day. We used to run errands and go to the park where we’d skate around the asphalt baseball field… The baseball court I guess. Leroy has so much energy, so I tried to give him plenty of exercise.
I had him wear a doggy back pack that I’d keep his water and toys in for him. If we were going on a trek, Leroy carried what he needed. He loved the exercise. I hadn’t seen him in months, and I was excited to walk my dog, but I knew how dangerous it could be because I was weak and had no balance to even stand on my own… Let alone walk my 70 pound pit bull that was nothing but muscle.
I put Leroy’s backpack on him and brought him to the door. I looked at his face, and whoever says that dogs can’t smile is wrong, because Leroy had a Cheshire grin. We walked out the door to the Bushwick streets together. I had to walk slowly because of my weakness and lack of coordination, but he adjusted to my pace and was walking right next to me after only half a block. I was so happy to be with my dog again. That Cheshire grin was contagious.
We ended up walking Leroy to a local bar that was owned by a very good man named Ali. I used to come here and hang out with Leroy outside, and chat with Ali for hours. Because I could eat purees at this point, Ali made me some baba ganoush that was delicious! I had a virgin piña colada and relaxed outside with my mother, Leroy, Rebecca, and Catt also joined us. Catt was a good friend for years and had moved into my old apartment after I fell.
It was a bit of “normality” in months of complete dependence, pain, hunger, and I was with my dog and my friends again! It was the breath of polluted Brooklyn air that I had been craving.