On the upside, I’ll have a lot more free time. Who’s up for canasta?
We’ll never know the real story of Sebastian’s first few months. All we know for certain is that he was found on the side of a road in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, unconscious, dehydrated, and debilitated by disease.
Under normal circumstances, we might guess that he escaped from someone’s back yard. But Sebastian is deaf, and that opens up the far crueler likelihood that he was abandoned.
* * * * *
Pit bulls are popular dogs in New Orleans. Breeders often use the pit bull’s unwarranted reputation for aggression to sell them for fighting and protection. It’s a reasonable guess that Sebastian was born to a breeder, and if all had gone according to plan, he might’ve spent much of his life in a cage — or worse.
When the breeder learned that Sebastian was deaf, though, the pup’s path changed. Who’s going to buy a deaf pit bull to guard her house? Who’s going to buy a deaf pit bull to fight in a ring, unable to hear his master’s commands?
* * * * *
That’s all conjecture, though. All we know for certain is that Sebastian wasn’t willing to go down without a fight. We also know that the person who found him had heard of Ken Foster. Through his Sula Foundation, Ken treated Sebastian’s various ills, made him whole again, and then Ken began looking for folks who could provide a good home for the young pup.
When I moved to New Orleans several lifetimes ago, Cheryl became my boss and one of my closest friends. I didn’t think anything of it.
Looking back, maybe I should’ve.
I’d come from Mississippi, where there was (and still is) plenty of homophobia to go around. I knew that New Orleans had (and still has) plenty of bigots, but compared to my former home, it felt like a completely different universe. In that bizarro-world, it seemed totally normal that a bubbly, blonde, middle-aged straight woman would befriend so many gay men.
But in fact, that was kind of unusual, and as I recently learned, Cheryl took a good bit of flack for it — not just because some of her family and friends were homophobic, but also because, back then, in the early 90s, there was a lot of AIDS-phobia, too. Then, as now, AIDS was considered by many to be a gay man’s disease, so hanging out with gay men was something that “normal” people weren’t encouraged to do.