My friend Bri named her new dog Roxas, after a favorite character from a video game whose storyline involves him losing his memories.
She said she picked the name because she wanted to give the white pit bull mix so much love and affection that he forgot about his painful past.Back in December, Bri, a New York state court officer, was granted a transfer back home to Buffalo after spending a year and a half working in Binghamton.
The first thing she did when she got back was begin the grueling process of finding housing where she'd be allowed to have a pit bull. It was the breed she'd wanted for a long time and she refused to settle into a new home where she wouldn't be allowed to have one.
In April, she found the place she needed and, by May, she had started the search for the perfect dog.
Three Saturdays ago, she called me to ask if I wanted to swing by the Niagara County SPCA to take a look at the dogs up for adoption.
When we walked in, the shelter was full of pit bulls and pit mixes, as shelters often are, so Bri had a lot of options to consider.
She walked up and down the row of kennels before asking a shelter volunteer for a chance to see two dogs.
She never got a chance to see the second one.
The first dog the volunteer removed from his kennel was white with black spots scattered across his face and body.
The SPCA gave the dog the name Equinox.
Bri said she could tell right away he was a good boy.
Though he barked as we walked by, his voice was excited and playful, a contrast to some of the more frantic sounds coming from the other kennels. He walked well on a leash and when it came time to see how he behaved in an indoor setting, he promptly rolled onto his side, placed his head in Bri’s lap and gladly accepted some belly rubs.
“He’s perfect,” Bri said.
I took a picture and sent it to her mother with the caption “we have a match.”
Bri agreed to adopt Equinox on the spot. He needed to stick around the SPCA for another week for a routine surgical procedure, but she could take him home the following Monday.
A few days later, I received a text message from Bri with a link to a story published by the Lockport Union Sun & Journal in early April. When I opened the story, I saw a familiar face in the photo – it was Equinox, and he was shown in a cage with another dog.
As I read on, I learned that the pair had been abandoned on the side of Ewings Road in Newfane. Though law enforcement believed the dogs had been sitting on the side of the road overnight, it was determined that they were healthy and not likely to have been abused.
Bri’s heart was broken when she learned how her new dog had found his way to the SPCA.
She wondered how people could be so cruel but reading the story only strengthened her belief that she had made the right choice.
Last week, we went back to the SPCA to pick up the dog that she had decided would be called Roxas. After a moment of squirming about in confusion, he sat stoic and still as we fitted him with his harness. When we walked him to the car, he was all too happy to jump in the back seat, get comfy and stay comfy the whole way home to Bri's Buffalo apartment.
When he arrived, he did a whole lot of sitting around, chewing on his brand new toys —toys that were all his, and making it very clear that he felt at home. Much like the day they met, he spent plenty of time on his back, inviting anyone with a free hand to rub his belly.
Sprawled out on the ground next to Bri, he seemed only a bit smaller than she was, at 65 pounds of solid muscle.
Bri worried about the other dog that was found abandoned with Roxas. She was a brown female pit mix, estimated at about two years old. She was still at the SPCA a week ago Monday when we went to pick up Roxas, listed under the name of Solstice.
But at least she was able to give one of them a home, Bri said. And like his namesake, Bri intends to do whatever is in her power to erase Roxas' memories of his abandonment and replace them with memories of warmth, love and security.
Mia Summerson is a reporter at the Niagara Gazette.