I was born into a succession of four German Shepherds. As a kid, when I wasn't out playing baseball or basketball or at home watching baseball or basketball, I was often as near to the dogs as possible. German Shepherds, at least the ones we had, are loyal to their owners and everyone else pales. That being the case, all four were basically hooked onto the hip of my stepfather. But sometimes they'd give me some time. I loved those dogs, even Guard, the one who didn't really like me, or anyone for that matter.

I have always wanted a dog of my own. However, given jobs, travel and a desire for long nights out, I never thought it was the "right time." I always came up with an excuse. Maybe I feared the responsibility. To fill the mini void of a life without dogs, I'd spend hours in local dog parks. No, I wasn't trying to pick up women. I just wanted to hang with dogs. When a Shepherd would make its way into the park, my eyes would light up. But just like ours, he or she wanted to stay with the owner, while playing around. Even the other dogs seemed to bore the Shepherd. I'd hang with other dogs. They'd hop on my lap. I'd pet them for long stretches.

About a year ago, I began volunteering at Animal Care & Control. I'd head over 4-5 times a month and take dogs out for walks, or just hang out in the cages. These were some of my best days in San Francisco. Seriously. I loved the staff at ACC over SPCA. There was and is no ostentation at ACC. SPCA gives off a bit of, I dunno, something. But that's only in comparison to ACC. SPCA also does wonderful things, there's no question about it. But ACC is staffed by the grittier folks. The ones who will truly do the dirty work. And unlike SPCA, ACC will take any animal. Any. I'd walk up to the second floor after a few hours with the dogs and see rats and chickens booking around. I mean, they were caged, but they were still pumped. One rabbit almost took my finger off when I went in for a pet.

About two months ago, I started to consider adopting. I really didn't know what I wanted. Someone mid-sized, I guessed. Maybe someone with a story. Who knows. I wasn't even sure I was ready. Right around the time I started looking around, I met a mutt named Marley. They thought he was around nine months old. He had been cared for by a homeless man before the man dropped him off. He was one of a few I was looking at. I grew close to another, but one day I returned and he was gone. Marley remained. And he'd give me that look, but honestly, almost all give you that look. A week or two passed and I hadn't been back to ACC. And when I returned, Marley was gone. It happens. Often. I inquired a bit and let it go. Something about him being with a rescue group.

Last week, or maybe the week before, I asked about Marley again. I don't know why; it just came to me. He was with an organization called Grateful Dogs. They were fostering him. Turns out there was a very minor incident while Marley was playing with a volunteer. Grateful Dogs came to the rescue.

I found Marley on their website and filled out a form. The following day, Michelle from Grateful Dogs called. Over the past week, we've spent a number of days together. I went along with Michelle and about 11 other dogs to Fort Funston. I watched Marley the entire time. Well, until a Shepherd came running up to the group. And then I started playing with them all. But my eyes kept returning to Marley. Maybe I was ready, I thought.

Two days ago, I drove down to South San Francisco, stopped at the pet food store to get the basics, and went to Michelle's house to get Marley. Michelle had tested and grilled me for days and she was comfortable with me. She wanted me to have him. Her eyes welled up as we walked Marley out to my car. Marley was terrified on the ride from South San Francisco back to my apartment. Non-stop drooling. Tail buried between his legs. Trembling. I kept trying to calm him. No luck.

We are now under a two-week trial period of sorts. Unless something dramatic happens, I can't imagine this ending at two weeks. Less than 48 hours in, we're already buddies. He sleeps well. He loves to play. He's into Big Star. Oh, and one of the last things I asked Michelle was if it was okay to change his name. Yes, she said. He'll pick up quick. And he already has. Welcome, Bennett.

Maybe the following song is a bit too human-oriented, but I had to go with it.