Yesterday as I got out of my car, up my driveway comes this beautiful dog. She is black with blue merle frosting on her paws and the back of her neck. Her face is like Labrador, but not quite. She stands back a little, but when I pat my leg, she wags her tail and comes right up to me. No tags and skinny, but she’s clean. She explores the garage and then comes back to me. I go to the door to get Maggie to come watch her. If she belongs to someone, or if she doesn’t, I don’t want her continuing to roam the neighborhood. We have a high concentration of Pitbulls in our neighborhood, and also coyotes.
The dog very comfortably comes inside, sees the cat, and approaches her. Misty very quickly starts growling, and the dog backs away. She sees the stairs, and starts to go up. I say “no,” and she backs away. She sees the cat’s food, once again I say “no,” and she leaves it alone.
I take her outside. Every glance, every move, she reminds me of Scully, the Catahoula we had before we moved to Papua New Guinea. She also reminds me of Cindy, the dog that followed my brother home from school when I was five, and she was ours for twelve years.
I tell her to sit. She does. As much as I want to believe this dog is a stray and led to our driveway to be our family dog, I sincerely doubt it.
When Jeff comes home, he decides the pound is the best place. It’s where anyone with common sense goes to look for a missing dog. Chris comes home tonight, it is the week before Christmas and already insanely busy. We have no dog food, no crate, and no knowledge about this dog. It makes sense. But I don’t like it.
She’s so sweet. She likes attention, but loves playing fetch even more. Her object of choice, pine cones. But maybe someone abandoned her along one of the roads behind our house. She IS skinny. I check her for fleas. She’s clean. I sniff her forehead. Shampoo. This dog has a home.
Throughout our entire marriage, their hasn’t been a full year that we haven’t had a dog, until we got back from Papua New Guinea. I can’t say I’ve missed the work. I have missed the companionship. But this dog has awakened something in me deeper. This would be the exact kind of dog I would want. My heart, which was numb for a long time now, aches for a dog.
I text my son a picture of her, letting him know what’s going on in the day. “Didn’t you guys have this happen last week, too?” We did. That dog had tags. Jeff had pulled out of the garage, and this monstrous dog came up to the car. We live right next to a trailhead that goes through our housing complex. It hadn’t happened in the first four months we have lived here, but I can imagine it could happen occasionally. “You can’t fight fate,” he jokes. “It will catch up to you in the end.” Thank you, Mr. Classics major.
We take the dog to the pound. We have a limited time to get there. They close at 6 o’clock, and my son’s plane gets in at 6:50. Google Maps has problems placing the location of the animal shelter and so we pass the road to it, and get stuck on the long highway to Valley Center. Finally, we turn around and find our way. A part of me is kind of wishing we miss it, and then we can at least keep the dog overnight. But no, we get there and they quickly take her in and start us on the paperwork of where she was found, whether she is violent against cats, etc. We let them know that if the owners don’t claim her, we want her. They will notify us. I think I said it at least two more times.
In an instant, puppy is gone, and for the most part, so is my attention, though on the way to the airport, I did look up how much a dog crate would cost.
We come home and get settled. I sit down at my computer to make a poster to put around the neighborhood, so that if the owners do see, they know to contact us, and we can tell them where she is. It gives me a little control over the situation. But as I boot up, my husband comes in with a piece of paper. There is the dog looking back at me, her name is Pepper. In the picture she has tags. She must have slipped her collar. Scully could do that, too. The owners are worried, she needs medicine. They’d put the notices on every mailbox.
I call them and let them know that she is at the pound. They are very, very happy. I’m glad I brought her in, so they didn’t really lose her. I text this morning and they have her. Yes, they’ve been told she looks like a Catahoula, too. I tell them she acts like one. The woman I am texting says the dog belongs to her daughter who is visiting from out of state, and they were gone for one hour. That makes me happy, too. Obviously if the dog did have a family, it’s where I would want her to be. Sigh.
Things are back to normal again here. Not sure whether the ache for a dog will continue or go. We’ll see.