As a writer, I am a natural procrastinator. That’s why my best friend Steve comes in handy any time I need to finish a project — and when it comes to moving, calling it a project is an understatement. On Monday morning when Steve showed up, I was in no mood to start packing. “Let’s go have breakfast,” I said. “Nope,” Steve responded, heading for the garage. A few minutes later he had piles of stuff for us to go through and was labeling moving boxes.
Skylar and Steve’s dog, Blue, were curious, particularly Skylar because she was just growing accustomed to her fancy new digs after living weeks 5 through 8 of her life in a car with a homeless kid in Golden Gate Park. Of course, Blue didn’t have a much better start — in 2009, she and her two sisters had been dumped through the afterhours slot at the infamous Kern County shelter near Bakersfield (which has since closed). The staff loved the sweet 4-month-old German shepherd-pit bull mix pups so much that they moved them from cage to cage in an effort to stall their execution date. Kern County took in 500 dogs a week, however, so this only delayed the inevitable. The night before the pups were to be put down, the adoption coordinator sent out a desperate plea to Rocket Dog Rescue, which had a transport coming to pick up some other dogs from death row the next morning. I agreed to foster the pups (Jazzy wasn’t thrilled as we had only recently placed our latest foster, 105-pound red-nose pit bull-mix Cooper, in his new Half Moon Bay home). The pups missed their date with death by just eight hours.
As soon as I got the puppies to my house, I invited Steve to come and meet them. It was a lovely June day, so we sat in the backyard and I brought out the martinis. Three cocktails later, Steve left with a puppy. He named her Blue — after her “big sister” Jasmine Blue. All three puppies were sweet, smart, and friendly, so Rocket Dog had no trouble placing the other two. After Jazzy passed away from cancer and I adopted Skylar Grey, it was time for Blue to get a taste of her own medicine. Just as she had driven Jazzy crazy with her puppy energy, young Sky now became Blue’s nemesis — or, as Steve and I liked to say, “Karma is a bitch … named Skylar.” As Steve and I packed, Blue went from spot to spot in the backyard with little Sky right behind her, gnawing on her ears, biting at her ankles, and barking that shrill puppy bark right in her face.
Steve is a master packer and organizer, something he actually does for a living, so it took less than a week to pack up the entire house (not to mention it was surprisingly painless). The Irish moving guys (why are moving guys always Irish?) did a great job loading everything up and getting it to the storage facility. “I’ll be calling you again when I find my next place,” I told them as they stacked the last boxes and shut the big metal door on my storage unit. After they drove away, Steve and I stood for a while at the iron railing overlooking south city. “How do you feel?” he asked. “Relieved,” I replied. “And a little sad.”
There was an unusually warm breeze blowing that early April evening as we lugged my necessities over several trips up four flights of stairs to Steve’s apartment. Blue and Skylar, whom we left at Steve’s to keep them safe and sound during the big moving day, flew into the hallway to greet us with huge pittie smiles and wiggly pittie butts. “You know you’re welcome to stay as long as you want,” Steve said. “I know,” I nodded. “Thank you, Steve. It means a lot.”
After dropping everything in the entryway, I flopped on the couch with Skylar, who eagerly climbed into my lap. “You’re getting a little too big to be a lapdog,” I told her as she licked my sweaty face. “That never stopped Jazzy,” Steve recalled in his typical droll manner. “All pit bulls think they’re lapdogs,” I laughed and rested my chin on Sky’s big square head. As the bright orange sun began to set, we gazed out the window at Steve’s view of the city, which was rapidly disappearing behind all the ugly new half-finished buildings.