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What kind of dog is pluto?"
"A mutt," says the owner, and I get up.
"I'm outta here," I say, and go outside and start running, fast. I run down the block and all the way to the park and on top of a small stone wall, the kind of thing they'd put up to keep people from accidentally falling over. I sit down and think about what I'll do. If it's a stray that I can find a home for, I will. I can't stand to see them, and that's all that really matters. But if it's someone's dog, I can't handle the responsibility.
It's after dusk, and I walk through the park and look for Pluto. I'm just about to give up when I see him running through the street, down the sidewalk toward me. I call out to him. He runs up to me and throws his body in the air as if he wants to be touched. "Hey, dog, how you doin'? What's up?"
I sit down on the stone wall and scratch the back of Pluto's neck.
"You're not going to hurt me, are you?" he says.
"No, man," I say. "I'm here to help you out. I just gotta know your name so I can put you on the right adoption site."
"You mean like the dog finder site?" he asks.
"Then I'm Pluto. Pluto the dog."
"Well, Pluto, there's nothing to worry about," I tell him. "I'm here to help you. Just remember to always be careful around the block, and don't go out there in the daytime."
"I won't. I promise," he says.
I pet him a little longer and then I put him on a leash. He's a little nervous. I take him home and he follows me.
The first thing I do when I get to my room is go to my closet and get some clothes for him. Then I feed him a bowl of food and a piece of apple. He's already gotten some of the food down. "Good boy, Pluto," I tell him. "I don't know how long it's gonna take, but I'm going to try to get you into a home as fast as I can. Okay?"
He puts his head in my lap and I pet him and give him another piece of apple.
At eleven o'clock the next morning I'm still awake. I've been trying to find homes for all the dogs I've been putting up. Pluto's been hanging with me a little longer than most of them, so I know it's worth my time to keep looking.
I have a bowl of water and an apple on my lap. I'm thinking about how lucky I am to have Pluto. I'd love to adopt him for myself, but I can't do that.
There's a knock on my door.
"Come in," I say, and a guy in a red T-shirt walks in. "Is Pluto here?" he asks.
"Yes. I've been waiting to get him ready to put up for adoption."
"You're a good person, I'll tell you that," the man says. "He's a sweet dog. I hope you don't mind my asking, but what's his name?"
"Pluto," I tell him.
"Well, good for you," he says. "We've just adopted one ourselves, and she's a sweetheart. But I think Pluto is just a little older than my dog. We're not sure what we're gonna do with him. So if you're not gonna keep him, I'd just love to give him to you."
"I'm not going to keep him," I tell him.
"All right. But if you change your mind, just let me know."
I give him his leash, which he takes to the door. Then I open the bedroom door and say, "I'll be right back."
"No, don't be afraid," he says. "I just need to make a phone call. I don't want you to be worried."
I tell Pluto to sit and then I go back to my closet to look for the clothes that I think he'll like. I put a small brown T-shirt on him. He's a little hesitant at first, and then he puts it on.
"Good, Pluto," I say. "Good boy."
I find the man's number and then I call him. He picks up the phone right away. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. That's great. Thank you so much. Well, thank you. I'll call back later. Okay."