Some had the bad luck to be born on the street; some had the bad luck to be adopted by undeserving owners; some had the bad luck to be given up by good owners who had their own bad luck and had to make hard choices.
Ranger was the first of these. That is: he had the bad luck to be born on the street. No one is sure who his father is but there’s a pretty good consensus that his mother was the fine-looking brindle mutt that used to be seen most evenings in the quarry beside the river.
It’s a good spot as far as outdoor homes go. There’s cool water to drink and to bathe in when the day gets hot, although it might look and taste a little strange. Also, there’s a pretty reliable meal to be had from the scraps that the workers leave behind. Only don’t draw too close before they leave because if they see you they’re as likely to throw a rock as to look at you.
That’s probably where Ranger was conceived.
Sometimes in the evenings a band of male strays roams the quarry ready to fight desperately over those scraps. If they happen across a female, herself looking for a meal, all thoughts of food are forgotten and the scene that unfolds can become quite gruesome.
When next we noticed her, her belly had begun to swell and it was clear that she was carrying a litter. That was also the last time we saw her. When we noticed her absence along our evening stroll we commented to each other hopefully that maybe someone adopted her and gave her a home but there’s really no way to know.
Then some months later we noticed Ranger. He was of the right age and build and had flecks of the very same brindle in his coat. We saw him traipsing among the tall grass in the vacant lot near the school, sniffing out critters, and trying to make a meal out of the lunch scraps that the children sometimes throw over the fence when their teachers aren’t looking.
He’s a handsome dog with a straight back and a keen eye; a bearing much nobler than his heritage or circumstances. And there’s a natural gentleness to him that has not been entirely extinguished by the rock-throwing and the fighting for each meal. He’d be a fine companion for some lucky person – that’s clear enough to see – but he had the bad luck to be born on the street so you wonder if he’ll ever get the chance.