SCRAP YARD DOGS
By Bob Laurie
John Carol got up weekdays at 4:30 am to open the Brooklyn scrap yard for business. He lived ten miles away in the Park Slope section of the Borough. The morning traffic was light, and Carol Scrap Yard usually opened the gates fifteen minutes before the trucks started rolling in. Most trucks were filled with barrels of various metals cut into small pieces. The holding containers had little air voids this way, the scrap weight was maximized. John never asked questions about where the neatly compressed copper wire or pipe came from, and he didn’t care as long as the Weights and Measures Authority didn’t inquire.
He had three essential jobs to do before the start of business; calibrate the scales, get the dogs their morning milk-bone, and open the safe to count the money. The first and latter were routine chores that brought no satisfaction but seeing the Pack first when they first saw John was a special moment.
John bought the scrap yard seven years earlier from his former boss. He worked there for nearly twenty years before the purchase. His wife Rose didn’t want him to be a business owner. The home they bought ten years earlier took all their savings. Rose fought him on taking a second mortgage to buy the business, but John couldn’t imagine what else he would do if he didn’t work the scrap yard. He promised Rose he would do whatever it took to keep the business going, and he kept his vow by working twelve hours a day, six days a week.
The Carol’s never had children and stop trying right after John purchased the business. The doctors had not determined why they hadn’t conceived. John told Rose that he was done stressing about it, and he needed to concentrate on the business now. “If it was meant to be, it would have happened,” he told her.
With John spending most of his time at the yard and maybe because they stopped trying to have a family, John and Rose had less to talk about when they did see each other. Rose made some new friends at the gym and was often out when he arrived home. The notes she left usually gave directions on where he could find dinner to heat up and that she’d be home later, but he was usually asleep by that time.
Rose told John when he first became attached to the stray dogs that she was allergic to all types of fur, so bringing his friends home was not something she would consider. To enforce her disdain for the mongrels, John had to strip his clothes every night at the back door and put them in the washer.
Rose asked him to get rid of the dog’s numerous times, but John refused. He told her he needed them for security, but that was the lie he told her. They were his friends, the best friends he ever had. Most people looked at these dogs with antipathy because of their appearance.
Duke, the Alpha of the Pack, was the largest of the dogs; by his size, John believed he had Irish Wolfhound in his blood. Duke had his ear chewed off when he was just a pup. All six of the mongrels had some form of deformity. The worst of which was Sasha, who lost her front leg. John didn’t know how the accident happens, but to watch Sasha with the other dogs, it was amazing how she adapted to her disability. Rocky the pit bull mix was once used for fighting and lost his eye. Benny, the beagle mix, was the noisiest of the group. He lost his tail to his previous owner, who punished him because he wouldn’t stop barking. Candy is a Shepard mix that was severely burned in a house fire. She’s missing the fur from the left side of her face to the left hind leg. Finally, there’s Tank; he looks like he could be a mix between a Bulldog and a boxer, the muscular body of a bulldog, and the face of a boxer. He’s missing the toes off his right rear paw, which makes him hobble. Tank looks like the last dog anyone would want to tangle with, but he’s a sweetheart and John’s favorite.
The half a dozen disabled and scared misfits were his best friends, and when John wasn’t working, he played with them. They stayed outside most of the time and wandered the neighborhood when John was too busy to give them attention. The neighborhood is where every one of them came from; it’s where they learned how to survive. A couple in the Pack came from animal lovers that seen John taking in strays. Bennie and Candy went with a story of abuse, but others like Duke and Tank were always wandering the streets and befriended John with short visits to his yard. John started feeding them some of his lunch, but that soon turned into buying large dog food bags. Then the Milk-bones and the jerky sticks, not to mention the dog beds. At night the Pack stayed in the mobile trailer that was his by office by day.