Boomer and I will never forget the day we met Scioscia—because it was 9/11 but also because it was the day two dogs formed a beautiful friendship.
The absence of planes roaring overhead at San Diego’s Dog Beach made the morning quiet and eerily still. Boo was three years old at the time and needed plenty of dogercising, especially this particular morning. We had just awoken to the news that America was under attack. The goal was to quickly exhaust him so he would sleep peacefully the rest of the day, oblivious to the chaos and disorder that had become the state of our world, while I glued myself to the television coverage.
The beach was desolate. We wandered alone near the water’s edge until a dark mutt Boomer’s size limped up to him and stood nose to nose. Politely, they exchanging pleasantries, tails wagging, completely unaware of world events.
“They get along,” said a surprised young blonde woman with an accent that was foreign to me.
Suddenly, the two dogs launch into a seemingly pre-choreographed form of playful wrestling, as if happy to finally meet and get on with the dance. In the time it took to smell one another, my dog had found a new playmate.
“Boomer was the only dog Scioscia allowed in her house.”
A very special playmate, as it turned out. Scioscia had been rescued by Linda, a Swedish animal lover and aspiring dog trainer, who found the female puppy chained to a fence in an abandoned lot—abused and underfeed—with a very debilitating front clubfoot and an uneven temperament.
Not the most social, prone to aggression and “she hates men,” said Linda the day we met.
None of which mattered to Boomer. The two dogs bonded instantly, and thanks to the them, eventually so, too, did their owners. It was Linda’s husband who named their dog after baseball icon Mike Scioscia, and during our time living in the same beach-side neighborhood, Boomer was the only dog Scioscia ever allowed in her house, the only dog to whom she was submissive, and the only dog cool enough for hanging at the beach or going on hikes and excursions.
Boomer and Scioscia also helped one another though challenges unforeseen and unimagined. Scioscia and her mom Linda were there for us on more than one occasion during Boomer’s initial bouts with seizures, a condition that eventually became chronic. And through Boomer, Scioscia was able to let down her guard and just be a dog.
Scioscia even accepted me, or so I’d like to think. Either way, I’m grateful for the camaraderie, exercise and distraction she brought to Boomer’s life. I’m also grateful for my friendship with Scios’s owners. Linda, indeed, became a dog trainer and inspired the character Linda the Swedish Dog Trainer in Walt Loves the Bearcat.
Approaching old age, Scioscia didn’t fare so well. She had to be laid to rest.
Boomer and I will never forget Scioscia. I myself will never forget the day we met because of events of 9/11, but also because almost ten years later, long after Scioscia departed from our lives, Boomer’s eyes still light up with recognition upon hearing her name.