Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dodger, the Joint-Custody Dog

When a day starts with the New York Times declaring, “Today, record-challenging heat…” no good can come from adding more heat to it. So, I’m eschewing all public and personal reflections for another week and extending the Dog Days.

Just when you think you think you can’t bear to wipe your wet brow one more time, a cooling breeze wafts across your forehead in the form of—what else?—a lovely story. Since Dodger, pictured above, is not shaggy, and his story, so far as we know it, is not long, this is anything but a shaggy dog story. Dodger, rescued from a pound, is a survivor in joint custody.

Adrienne Albert is a contemporary American composer who loved and lost a dog named Mahler. Mahler, a fawn-colored greyhound, used to sit—cross-legged—on Adrienne’s sofa without budging an inch to make room for anyone else on it. We’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I didn’t approve of Mahler’s manners. He could tell, and could be quite surly about it.

Adrienne longed for, more accurately pined for, a new dog. Her neighbor, Stephanie Burns, rescues dogs and finds homes for them. Stephanie, a truly devoted “dog person” in Adrienne’s admiring eyes, found Dodger at the pound, and not a moment too soon, because he was slated to be put down the next day.

Stephanie did what Stephanie habitually does—brought him home with her to place him with a good family. But Dodger, as you will see, has a way with women. After spending just a wee bit of time with him, Stephanie fell in love, so in love she couldn’t bear to part with him. She decided she would keep him.

Stephanie has two other dogs, one she’s unable to find a home for because he, Buster, has a personality disorder, no doubt from being a dog who needed rescuing, the other, a wonderful beagle named Molly.

Scheduled to be away from home for a month and knowing how Adrienne craved another dog, Stephanie asked Adrienne if she would like to take Dodger for part of the time. Would she! In the time it took Adrienne to say “Yes!” twice, she fell in love with him.

In the course of her bliss-time, Adrienne, aware Stephanie was coming home, asked if Dodger could spend the night. (This begins to sound like a French film.) Stephanie, a modern woman, said she’d already sent Adrienne an e-mail to that effect, namely, suggesting they could share Dodger. They assumed Dodger’s swagger-the-tail complicity.

The result: the two women have the doggonedest of all worlds. Joint custody of Dodger. By day, he lives with Adrienne, who composes at home and often goes out at night. By night, he’s Stephanie’s, whose schedule is the reverse. At the beginning of every week, Adrienne sends her 7-day schedule to Stephanie, who comes to pick Dodger up for several hours each day and brings him back before his bedtime, which is substantially earlier than Adrienne’s, but Dodger is either none the wiser or very cool about it. Before long, conversely, when Adrienne will be traveling, Stephanie will be spending more quality daytime with the happily bi-domiciled Dodger.

It’s all in a Dog’s Day and it’s happening in Los Angeles. Stephanie hopes it will spur additional ways for people to adopt dogs. Citing an existing “huge” animal overpopulation problem, she emphasizes, “If people can work out a joint custody situation, then more dogs can be saved.” Now doesn’t that warm your heart and cool your brow at the same time?


  1. Ray, Just dropped by to see how you and the blog have been fairing and read this wonderful post. We recently adopted a rescue puppy and our lives have changed so much for the better. Our new girl Abbey, likes to try and kiss you with her tongue in your mouth--a budding French Film Actress if ever there was one!

  2. Haha! What an adorable story.

    It's at times like this I wish I had a dog; even if just part-time.

  3. Hey Ray, love that story. That Dodger must be the best parented pet in town. Actually, it is a wonderful thing for both sides, and I too am going to talk it up. Starting right now.