At 32 years of age, I decided to go back to college and get a degree. I spent the next four years at CSULB figuring out what I wanted to be and the following two becoming a history teacher (1991-97). I worked my way through college and managed to either have a full-time job or a couple of part-time jobs all six years, well, except for that last semester. My classes during that last semester were all over the place; one-morning class, a couple in the afternoon, and two at night. I just couldn’t find a job that would accommodate that schedule. By the end of the semester, I was broke, seriously broke. I had gone through what little savings I had, my one credit card, and the money friends lent me. So, I decided to have a yard sale to raise some money. I knew in a couple of weeks, I’d have a job as a substitute teacher and I wasn’t that worried.
I decided to have the sale on a sunny Saturday morning, I rounded up all the things I could bear to part with and set them in my backyard. I walked outside to post a sign on the telephone pole just in front of my house. As I was hanging the sign, I caught a glimpse of something to my left. I looked over my shoulder and saw a scrawny brown and black dog dragging himself down the sidewalk. He jumped up trotted toward me a couple feet and collapsed again. He dragged himself closer, jumped up again, trotted closer, and yet again collapsed. He did this until he reached me.
I looked down at him, he was covered in mud from head to toe. I felt sorry for him, so I picked him up and carried him around back. I set him next to my backdoor under some shade. I was heartbroken for him and decided to feed him what I could before turning him out again. I already had one dog, I didn’t need another.
I went inside and found half a subway sandwich, some leftover baked beans, and a couple slices of bread. I fed that to him and he gobbled it all down in a matter of seconds. Just then, my first customer arrived and I started the yard sale.
A couple hours later, I thought about dumping him back out on the street, so while there was a lull in customers, I decided to take the hose and clean him up a bit. As I was rinsing him off he put his head down and the stiff hair on his neck poked up revealing a three-inch infected gash. Just as I noticed that his tongue lolled out and it had black spots on it. I thought, “Christ, this dog is wounded and diseased, he ain’t never going to make it”. I decided to call the animal control people and have them pick him up. When I called animal control they said they couldn’t pick him up until 3:30pm. I said that was fine, we’d be waiting.
I continued with the yard sale. I kept an eye on the people and glanced at him every minute or so. I looked at the people, I looked at the dog, looked at the people, I looked at the dog. Finally, by about 3pm the people were gone and I was just looking at the dog. I called animal control and told them to never mind, I’d take care of him.
I went inside, found my checkbook, and decided to write a bad check to get him fixed up. Back then, most places still took checks for services. More importantly, they didn’t have a machine to tell them whether your check was good or not. I figured I’d make it good after I got my first check from substituting. F**k it.
With my checkbook in my back pocket, I picked the dog up, put him in the front seat of my truck, and headed to the Golden State Humane Society. When we got there, I checked us in and was lucky there was only one other person ahead of us. We waited our turn and then went in to see the doctor.
The first thing the doctor said was, “So, what’s wrong with him?” I’m all like, “tsk…just look at him, he’s about dead”. The doctor said, “Can you be more specific?” I said, “ He’s got a gash on the back of his head and he’s diseased, I can tell by looking at his tongue”. The doctor examined him for a few minutes, looking at the back of his neck and inside his mouth. He turned to me and said, “ First, he’s emaciated, you can tell by his skin.” He pulled the skin on his back up and let go. The dog’s skin just kinda hung there, then slowly sank back down. The doctor told me that when a dog or a person is emaciated, their skin becomes like plastic and doesn’t just snap back like normal. He said to just feed and water him normally and he’d get over it. Then he went on, “He isn’t diseased, he’s part Chow. Chow’s have black tongues, that’s why his tongue is that color. Don’t worry about that.” So far, nothing but good news.
Then he explained, “The gash on the back of his head is infected, that’s going to have to be cut out and we don’t do that here”. I just looked at him with the same big eyes the dog had given me and said, “Doc, I can’t afford to take him any place else, please, can’t you do this for us?” He stared at me for a few seconds then relented. He said, “Okay but two things, it’s going to cost 117 dollars and if he pulls the stitches out you have to take him to a regular vet.” Now, I was quick to agree because I figured I was writing a bad check anyway. The doctor said, “Go on out to the waiting room and wait to be called”. I went and had a seat.
In a couple of minutes, the receptionist called my name and said, “That’ll be 117 dollars”. I reached in my back pocket for my checkbook… and it wasn’t there. I patted my pockets, no checkbook. I said, “Just a minute, I think I left it in my truck”. I went outside, looked in the truck, no checkbook. I started to frantically tear the truck apart looking for it, but it wasn’t there. I walked back in the clinic and as I was going through the front door I stuck my hands in my pockets to turn them inside out to show the receptionist I lost my checkbook. As I pulled my hands out I brought the money I earned from the yard sale out with them. I had completely forgotten about the money. I counted it and it was exactly 117 dollars.
I paid the receptionist, had a seat, and after about an hour I collected my dog. It was like God wanted to have the dog but it was on a cash on delivery basis only. As we were leaving, the receptionist said, “What’s the name of your dog for our records?” In a split second I answered Job, his name is Job, you know, like in the Bible (Job, long “O”, Old testament, a follower of God who underwent many trials and tribulations).
I never found that checkbook, it was like it had completely vanished.
I had Job for 15 years, I loved that dog more than words can describe. The second half of this story recounts the day I lost him.
Job had had a rough year (2013), his mental state was declining and he had bad kidneys and bad legs. I knew it was about time for him to go so we had done a tour of all his favorite parks I had taken him to over the years. One Sunday afternoon, while I was sitting at my computer, Job walked over to me and collapsed. I knew it was time to put him down, I didn’t want him to suffer. But it was 4:35pm and I wasn’t sure where to take him. I went back to the computer and googled places near me. I finally found someone about five miles from me and gave them a call. They said that if I could get there before 5pm they’d do it for me. I scooped Job up and sped down the street, doing about 80 and running red lights. I got there just as they were locking the doors. I jumped out and told them we were there, please help us. They were more than obliging. They set things up while I sat on the cold green floor of the operating room holding Job. They shaved his leg, inserted the tubes, and as I held him he went to sleep one last time. I cried like a baby (hell, I’m crying right now).
I paid for incineration and an urn for his ashes. I drove home, crying all the way.
Later that night, I drove down to Ladera Ranch to see some friends because I didn’t want to be alone that night. I spent a few hours with them, then decided to go home and tough it out. As I started on the trip back I decided I was going to stop at an all-night donut shop near my house and eat myself into a donut coma. Since they only took cash I needed to stop and get some money before hitting the 405. I pulled into this shopping center called Mercantile East, not a mall but still very big. I spotted a Bank of America on one end and drove over and parked the truck. It was now about 11:00pm.
I got out of the car and started walking toward the teller machine. Halfway there, I caught some movement out of the corner of my left eye. I stopped, turned, and saw a ball rolling toward me about 30-40 feet away. I glanced up and the parking lot was empty. I watched the ball coming closer. I looked back up and scanned my surroundings and I didn’t see anyone. The balled rolled right up to my feet. I bent down, picked it up, then looked around one more time. I didn’t see anyone. I thought to myself, “C’mon, there have to be kids or somebody around”. I checked things out yet again, still nobody.
So, in the spur of the moment, I threw the ball as hard as I could and said, “Go get it Jobby”. I watched as that ball bounced off a tree, hit a curb, bounced over a grass island, and then rolled right back toward me. But not right to my feet this time. It stopped about ten feet in front of me. That freaked me out, I mean really freaked me out. Why? Because what Job used to do was bring me the ball, I’d throw it, he’d run and get it, bring it back to within about ten feet of me and expect me to chase him.
I scooped up the ball, jumped in my truck, and raced around the entire perimeter of the shopping center to see if I could find someone. After two passes all the way around, I didn’t find anyone. I started crying all over again. After a few minutes, I wiped my tears and drove home, forgetting about a donut coma.
Now you can believe what you want. Coincidence? Maybe. But, I’m convinced Job came to visit me one last time.
Submitted to Weird Darkness and My Haunted Life Too by Christian Westbrook
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