Dog Boy

Written by David A. Brooks

Hello kids. You want to know what’s with the ninja outfit? Hey, sneaking into the house to read you your bedtime stories didn’t get any easier when your folks hired that security consultant! Now, if they really want to provide security, there’s a young man I know who’s the world’s best watchman.

Tonight’s bedtime story is about another one of those special citizens of Foresthill. His name is Raymond something-or-other, but he’s been called Dog Boy ever since anyone can recall. Dog Boy grew up somewhere in the mountains above Foresthill, in a part of the world where people go to live when they don’t want to be found. No one knows much about how he was raised, and no one recalls seeing him in town before he was an older teenager. Dog Boy was around 17 years old when he was first noted chasing trucks down the main street. There wasn’t much traffic, so between trucks he’d rest in the shade of an old pine tree. The boy wasn’t known to speak a single word, but he was able to communicate. He’d bark for attention, whine if he wanted something, and when he was happy he’d hang his tongue out of his mouth and get a big dopey grin. The locals found this amusing behavior, but it really wasn’t much to get excited about. You have to try really hard to stand out in Foresthill. However, over the course of the next few years his behavior began to take a turn for the worse. He began to chase people and he took to growling if he felt threatened. Still, that sort of behavior is no worse than your boss exhibited the last time you asked for a raise. By the time Dog Boy turned 20, he’d gone mean. Junk yard mean. He’d become pretty aggressive and would take food from The Store or he’d swipe it off a grill. People would leave food out for him and that kept thefts to a minimum. Keeping Dog Boy happy became a priority for the locals, because an unhappy Dog Boy meant that someone might get hurt. He’d stopped bathing some years ago, so it was pretty hard for him to sneak up on people. Still, he’d just as soon bite as growl, so it was best to be cautious when he approached.

This past summer, there was a big barbecue in Foresthill’s Town Square, with hot dogs and ice cream for all attendees. It was hosted by a big real estate developer, who stands to make a fortune if Foresthill continues to have more than its fair share of big fancy homes built on the mountain. The developer used this forum to make a speech in honor of the occasion. It was a little hard to follow his thinking about how American independence was intertwined with the construction industry, but the consensus was that he seemed to think that building stuff was the secret to liberty and freedom as we know it.

It’s hard to say whether it was something in the speech that set Dog Boy off, or whether it was the firecrackers that someone lit. Dog Boy was initially attracted by the smell of grilling hot dogs, but then his attention shifted to the real estate developer. Dog Boy snarled, made a bee line for the poor man, and bit the unlucky fellow on the thigh. Onlookers were able to swat Dog Boy away. They must have hurt him because he howled piteously. When Dog Boy left the park he took the time to take a leak against the developer’s brand new truck.

The developer filed a police report, and the resident deputies began looking for Dog Boy. Dog Boy took to crawling up to the developer’s house and barking loudly at all hours of the night. By the time the police arrived, Dog Boy was long gone. After a week of this, the developer decided to take matters into his own hands. He let it be known that if something wasn’t done about Dog Boy he’d have no choice but to shoot him. Since Dog Boy had already bit him he figured it’d be self defense.

The locals of Foresthill are pretty divided when it comes to real estate development, for all the obvious reasons. They are really clear about some things, though. For instance, to screw with one local is to screw with them all (even if that local’s behavior greatly resembles that of a cranky old German Shepherd). Foresthill celebrates and cherishes its eccentrics, and if you can shoot someone for merely being crazy and acting like a dog then damn near anyone could get shot. In the interest of self preservation, no one wanted to set the precedent of shooting crazy people. It was the unanimous agreement amongst the regulars at The Bar that someone had to do something, and then someone thought maybe they’d all better go down to that developer’s office and raise some hell.

Around this time, Foresthill’s resident deputy was able to arrest Dog Boy. It wasn’t very difficult. The officer just set up a grill in front of the police station, and before too long Dog Boy came by for a hand out. Getting Dog Boy into a holding cell wasn’t very hard provided you put a burger in there first. Dog Boy ate, then settled down to nap. When he woke up, all hell broke loose. Dog Boy tore up the cell, chewed and tore the blankets, and howled at the top of his lungs. The poor deputy had no choice but to hold him in the jail. A complaint had been signed alleging assault (the bite), indecent exposure (marking territory), and disturbing the peace (barking). The deputy called County Mental Health to see if there was something they could do for Dog Boy, or at least make the howling stop for a while.

The county social worker was quite surprised to find out that Dog Boy could not only speak, but he was reasonably eloquent. Dog Boy explained that he’d run away from an abusive situation; and no, thank you, he didn’t want to talk about it right now. While he was being abused he had a pet dog. That animal was the only thing in the world that loved him. He learned that the dog was far less cruel than any human being, and it seemed happier than any person he knew. The dog grew old and died, and that’s when Dog Boy decided to run away. He made a decision that he’d give up on the human race, and try to be as dog-like as possible. He decided he’d rather live life that way. Dog Boy said he didn’t want to talk any more, and he didn’t want any help. He’d lived his life alone for many years, been able to get along OK, and really didn’t like people much.

The poor social worker didn’t know what to do. He was older than age 18, so he couldn’t be dealt with as a run-away. On the one hand, Dog Boy was able to feed himself and not die of exposure, so he wasn’t “Gravely Disabled” such that she could hospitalize him. She wasn’t even positive he was mentally ill. On the other hand, she didn’t want to just walk away from the problem and hope for the best. She hoped that something could be done to help this young man, but wasn’t sure what it would be.

Dog Boy was arraigned on his charges, and I was appointed to represent him. I came up with what I thought was a creative solution. I made a call to the developer to see what he wanted to do. The developer acknowledged that this case could put an end to free and easy real estate wheeling and dealing. The locals were angry and motivated. They’d taken to showing up at job sites, his offices, and even zoning meetings. Dog Boy was bad for business and the developer wanted to find a way out of all this. I had a chat with Dog Boy, who wouldn’t talk back. I told him I thought I found a way to get him out of jail, but he had to promise to be good. He whined a little, but he didn’t snarl. I called the DA, and got the developer on the line. The case will be dismissed with the following conditions:

Dog Boy will be released from custody, to reside at a home under construction that’s owned by the developer. Dog Boy will serve as a watchman at developer’s construction sites. Dog Boy will agree to use toilet facilities and be well groomed. Dog Boy will agree to not bite anyone, but snarling at trespassers is encouraged. Developer will provide a means for Dog Boy to summon police assistance if required. Developer will provide three hots and a cot. Dog Boy will agree to be visited by the social worker lady as often as she wants to visit, and will be nice to her.

I don’t know if that’ll fix a lot in the long run, but it will have to do for now. If you see someone down, try to stand them up. There’s no situation so screwed up that there isn’t a way to move it forward, even if you have fleas.

Good night kids. I’ve got the light.
Uncle David