Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2024
My first major case of 2024 answers many reasons why I do what I do.
The message came to me from Patty Lovelace, our animal control officer. A homeless man and his bulldog “Bear” needed assistance and Patty told them to contact me to see if I could help. I was told the dog had a festering cyst or tumor about the size of a silver dollar that needed to be looked at and possibly removed.
I agreed to pay for the procedure and met up with the old man and his dog two days later at Landrum Vet; our appointment had been arranged. At the interview where we set up an operation the following Monday with Dr. Donna Raines, I learned how many things I had wrong.
First of all, Bear was not the dog’s name, it was the gentleman’s name. I never found out his real name, he was just Bear. Secondly, the dog’s name was not Bear; the pit mix was named Bulldog.
Bear was sporting a large full beard and was covered with dust from head to toe. I said he was an old man but his age is undetermined, probably between 40 and 80 most likely. Though Bear was somewhat disheveled, Bulldog was clean and fit as a fiddle, and obviously well cared for.
Bear was a sweet and gentle man who was quite lucid; all his faculties were intact. Bear was homeless by choice and I sort of think of him more like a mountain man who lives off the land.
Bulldog was also a sweet dog that gobbled up attention like a sponge. The two of them were most definitely a team; I enjoyed their company very much.
Bulldog had the tumor removed late Monday. On Tuesday morning I learned that all went well and the blood tests showed that the tumor was benign. Bulldog went home with Bear and I’m sure he’ll be well taken care of.
I received a message of gratitude from Bear, saying “Thank you, Mr. Rizzo. I’d be lost without my companion.”
I’m sure Bear realizes that one day that will happen, but not today, not on my watch.
Thanks for listening.
Leonard Rizzo is the founder of Lennie’s Kids, a nonprofit organization that helps sick and injured animals in the foothills, promotes animal welfare and works to find homes for pets.