Letters from the editor: Wrapped in the warmth of a pet lover's caring

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 17, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

I rise early. So does the pooch.

We get up around 5 a.m. By 5:30 we’re walking.

A couple of days after adopting Jackson, we stopped by a Starbucks for some wake-up juice. A group of ladies was gathered on the patio.

One immediately identified Jackson as a rat terrier. Usually he’s mistaken for a Jack Russell (and terribly insulted by it, I might add).

But this woman had a “ratty” at home. Within seconds I was seated at the table, looking at iPhone photos of her little chewer.

This was good. I had lots of questions and knew of no one else with the same breed.

First, could she watch Jackson while I went inside to order coffee?

Sure, she said, taking his leash.

When I went back outside I quizzed her on the breed’s issues — namely barking, chewing, chewing what’s been chewed, and then barking at what’s been chewed.

I then asked if rat terriers need to wear sweaters in wintertime. A passerby that morning had scolded me with an unsolicited “What, no sweater?” question-statement, so I was curious.

Now if you go out after 8 a.m., he won’t need a sweater, my new friend explained. But at 5:30 a.m. he’ll need one during the colder months.

Not the answer I wanted.

I didn’t want to be that guy who walks a sweater-wearing dog. I am pretty sure Jackson didn’t want to be that dog, the emasculated one that rats would laugh at rather than fear.

But it sounded like I had little choice. The tail sometimes wags the dog.

I thanked the ladies for the conversation and headed home, where I told my wife and daughter that we needed to go shopping for dog clothes.

The next morning Jackson and I passed the Starbucks. The same lady flagged me.

She produced a plastic grocery bag. Inside was a hand-knitted sweater. She had made it for her rat terrier but wanted Jackson to have it instead. She also gave me a hand-me-down dog parka.

Jackson slipped into and modeled them. He looked ridiculous but comfortable. He promptly showed his appreciation by chewing his new outfits.

The thoughtful act — heck, most-thoughtful acts — from a stranger stunned me. The woman probably didn’t remember my name from the day before, and I didn’t really expect to see her again, but the fact that I had a rat terrier was enough for her to want to help him.

But in the end, I was the one who walked away feeling warm.

JOHN CANALIS is the editor for the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and john.canalis@latimes.com.

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