On the surface I could bitch and moan about getting my 15th flat of the year thanks to this little fella picked up somewhere on the ride home that managed to make its way through the tire tread and tube just after I passed Hoover on Jefferson in front of USC:

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But the fact is that little piece of glass helped me to do a good deed in reuniting a loose dog with its peeps. After the jump let me introduce you to Acorn the Jindo :

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See, had I not had the flat I would have made the left on to Figueroa from Jefferson about 12 minutes earlier than I did and as such would probably have looked across the street from the left turn lane and not seen a slim brown stressed-out canine looking all alone and like it was getting ready to cross the thick traffic from the south side of Jefferson to the north side.

I have to admit I almost didn’t stop. I almost kept going. But I got a block north and told myself that dog needed my help and I yanked a right off of Fig across a side street to Flower and back down to Jefferson where Acorn the Jindo was now standing on the southwest corner with not a person anywhere in sight.

So I crossed to her and she immediately took off at a slowish trot south on Flower down the east side of USC’s Galen Center. As I was about to  set off in pursuit I heard a desperate sounding voice of a woman behind me and a Korean lady came jogging around the corner from Jefferson.

“Is that your dog?” I asked. Much to my relief and surprise, she said it was. “We adopted her just today!” she yelled.

I pulled the never-bike-without-it bag of kibble and told her I was going to get ahead of the dog and try to drive her back north toward the woman, but I took off before I could see if she understood the plan.

I caught up to the dog just south of the Galen Center and shook the bag of food as I coasted along side in the street, which got her attention for she slowed long enough for me to see how emaciated the poor thing was. But the shucka-shucka sound of the food in the plastic wasn’t enough to get her to stop completely so I pulled up onto a driveway apron, opened the bag up and poured a little on the ground. She reversed course and tentatively started to come toward me, but stopped a few feet away. Bringing forth one of the jerky treats I offered it in my outstretched hand, but she wouldn’t take it. So I broke off a piece and tossed it to her, and as she bent to gobble it up, I dismounted and took a seat on the concrete next to the food, calling out to her that she was a good girl and to come eat. As she did, the woman arrived talking on her cell phone and passed the two of us giving us a wide berth to stand beyond us.

Focused on the conversation she was having, the woman didn’t notice that the dog had come up to me and was rapidly eating the food well within my reach and though I tried to get the lady’s attention to use the leash and secure the animal while we had the chance I couldn’t make contact and I knew in a few more gulps the food would be gone and so would the dog.

So I mad a judgment call and grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and of course the dog freaked out and tried to bolt and when it couldn’t get away it twisted around and bit my wrist two or three times, but more out of fear than out of any intent to hurt me. Still I wasn’t going to hang on and give things a chance to get more violent so I let go reluctantly, and she took off north back toward Jefferson.

The woman cried out and frankly, I cursed her out asking what the fuck she was doing on the phone when she had a perfect chance to get the dog under control — a chance whose odds of being repeated were now astronomical because the dog wasn’t going to allow me close enough to touch it a second time. All the woman could do was apologize and hand me the leash.

“What’s the dog’s name?” I yelled and the woman said something in Korean that I totally didn’t catch, so I hopped back on my bike and charged up the gutter against the thick one-way southbound traffic on Flower knowing it was going to take a miracle to catch this poor creature. And after shadowing her along Jefferson to Figueroa and getting ahead of her to drive her back onto Jefferson, that miracle happened.

Heading towards Flower, instead of a repeat chase downthe open sidewalk of that street, she dodged through a gate she was passing inside of which is a small courtyard and the north doors to the Galen Center. It turned out that the only way out was the gate she went in — one I was quick to close once I entered through it.

I don’t need to tell you that I’d probably still be out there had Acorn not made that strategic move — and I’m not against believing she did it somewhat on purpose to get us away from traffic and calm us all down.

After some trotting around and figuring out (or maybe verifying) she was trapped,  a standoff ensued.

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With the woman remaining outside the gate I took off my helmet and my backpack, sat down and poured out the rest of what little was left of the kibble and just spoke calmly to the dog who stood on her guard about 20 feet away. I flicked several nuggets over to her which she’d eat but come no closer. I debated calling animal services and enlist their assistance, but then just decided that unless Galen Center security (who I’m sure was watching on the surveillance camera over the doors) came out and forced some trespassing issue I felt confident that just chilling was the way to go.

Ultimately, the woman entered the courtyard by climbing over the east barrier  and then proceeded to get low on her hands and needs and move slowly toward the dog while speaking reassuringly:

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It wasn’t long until the woman’s husband showed up outside the gate and watched as we failed to corner the dog the first time, but on the second try Acorn must’ve been getting weary because when we backed her up against the wasll she stood there quietly and let me get up close enough to calmly slip the leash around her neck, whereupon the woman basically collapsed to the ground exhausted and relieved not knowing how to thank me enough.

“This happy ending is thanks enough for me,” I said, patting the dog’s head and apologizing for grabbing her earlier.

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As her husband came in and over to us holding a green cup, she asked him if he’d brought any water, but he shook his head. I told him to use the water in the bottle on my bike and he did, bringing it over and setting it down before the stoic dog who sniffed the cup but didn’t drink — at least not right away.

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Looking her over as she drank, with her severely scabbed-over ear tips and her prominent ribs I could tell she’d already had a hard young life where people have failed her.

“Her name, in Korean, means acorn,” the woman said. “Because she’s the color of an acorn.” Then she told me that they’d had to put their previous dog down last week because of bone cancer, and that she had just picked up Acorn from the pound today.

“I opened the car door and he ran out right away!”

I asked them what breed and they told me a Jindo mix, the same as their last dog, and I cautioned them to be patient with Acorn because she’s going to be an entirely different pet than their last one was.

And then the four of us sat in the late afternoon sun until they had thanked me more than enough and I said my goodbyes and got on my way home.

And I have to admit, I got a little choked up while getting there, with tears not so much of joy, but relief and pride in accomplishment. Rare are the loose dogs I’ve encountered that let me interact with them, but rarer still are the those I intersect with that result in the dog being reunited with its people.

Acorn the Jindo was the first, so you’ll have to pardon me if I feel a bit the hero for a little while.