A couple of weeks ago, I got to visit Tucson, Arizona. “It will be more than 100 degrees here then,” my friend had warned when I set my travel dates for the end of May. I didn’t care. I was sick of the stale skies of San Francisco, its seasons muffled in the fog. I need sun in my skin. I assured her it would be fine. And as my noticeable tan implies, it was more than fine.
In Tucson, I had the pleasure of meeting Meatball, a 100-pound purebred Airedale Terrier rejected from future lineage for the very feature that makes him so endearing: His ears. They fall the wrong way. Don’t we all. According to his human friend and personal photographer, Lindsey Raisa Feldman, Meatball — despite his weight and size and imperfect ears — is a “very reasonable” dog. Indeed, when I was over at the house, Meatball was more content to nap and eat, and cheerfully pose for pictures … and receive the subsequent treat for his mild obedience.
Meatball’s breeder — Lindsey’s mother-in-law — is considered a bit of an “Airedale whisperer.” With a deep love and respect for the breed, she also works in Airedale-specific rescue, helping dogs find their forever homes with a “preternatural ability to know which dog belongs with which family.” Meatball met Lindsey and her husband Gabriel after their cat was tragically killed by a coyote. The desert gives, and the desert takes. Meatball helped heal their broken hearts with his easy affability. He was the missing piece they didn’t even know they needed.
And perhaps the dog with the goofy ears was part of a larger scheme put into motion by the mystical forces of the desert, riding a current of magic. About three years ago, Meatball and his family were out on a walk when they were approached by a terrier pup in poor condition. The puppy’s ears were mangled with blisters, and he was sickly and thin. Meatball licked the puppy’s nose, as if to say, “Follow me, I’ll help you out,” which is a very reasonable thing to do. Lindsey and Gabriel cared for the puppy, and after a bath and some food, Meatball attached himself to the little stray and didn’t leave his side.
That’s when my former college roommate and one of my most beloved friends, Veronica, met the puppy, and he was christened Chicharito. She adopted him. While staying with Veronica, at her parents’ beautiful home, Chicharito would snuggle against me, hardly knowing me, but sensing I was looking for some sort of peace for my restless soul. It was as if he was saying, “Follow me. I’ll help you out.”
And now I am deeply considering moving to Tucson. There is a stray ache in my heart and a sense that it’s time to begin focusing on the things I really care about. The desert heat is a piece I didn’t even know I was missing. Maybe Meatball could sense my lack of direction, and was nudging my arm and saying, “Follow me. I’ll help you out.”
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About Liz Acosta: Dogster’s former Cuteness Correspondent, Liz still manages the site’s daily “Awws,” only now she also wrangles Dogster’s social media. That’s why she wants you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and — her personal favorite — Instagram. See ya there!