This winter has been harsh. Snow mounds up to our shoulders, wind chills dipping down into the negatives and a constant flurry of school delays for weeks. It’s no wonder the parent buzz on Facebook has been for spring to come as soon as possible! Last Friday was another one of those winter-type days. I was bringing my son home from school when I saw a somewhat familiar figure lethargically walking along our street. It appeared to be a lost dog. I then saw a car slow up beside it and thought the owner came to retrieve the pup, so I continued to turn onto the street. As I kept a watchful eye on the animal I noticed, in my rear view mirror, that the truck got just past the dog and sped by. I stopped my car and turned around…
I grew up with dogs. Our first family pet was Rocky (and yes, he was named after the one and only, Mr. Balboa). He was a black lab mix that my parents got from a farm, for free, a year before I was born. He had a shiny black coat of fur with a white chest and little white beard. He was quiet, reserved and a gentle creature. Rocky was my dog and my older brother. I can still remember the morning when I found him, unable to stand. I stayed with him until my father brought him to the vet to put him down. I was 16 years old.
I will always have a soft spot for dogs. Yes, I am that person who finds strays and helps them anyway I can. I have caught dogs, playfully running down the street away from their masters. I had once picked up a blind pup and saved a very frantic dog sitter’s job – all at the same! And I also have looked after dogs and cats while neighbors and friends were away on vacation. So, it was only natural to also help get this dog out of the cold.
I stopped the car several feet away and got out, so I wouldn’t scare it. I then, calmly, called it over. The dog turned to me and started to trot in my direction. It appeared clean and very friendly and the jingle I heard, coming from the pup, let me know it was wearing a dog tag. I immediately checked the heart-shaped tag and quickly realized it was a neighbor’s dog that we knew. Knowing that this dog was a family pet, I felt it was safe enough to bring her back to our home. The dog jumped into the front passenger seat and Nathanael squealed with joy! The pup then looked back at him and wagged her tail. I smiled.
We brought the neighborly pet home, got out a bowl and filled it with water. I then called the owner. She was shocked and relieved at the same time and let me know she was at the doctor’s office, but would return as soon as she could. I reassured her that all was well, as I spotted my son and the dog playing together from the corner of my eye, and there was no need to rush.
Nathanael showed the pup around the house, read her a story and drew her a picture, all in the time they had together. My son also turned to me and asked if I could draw her as well. And so, I did.
I was sitting on the chair watching them interact when the dog noticed me and strutted over. I scratched her ear and let her know that her mommy was coming soon to pick her up. The pup then looked up at me and, in that moment, I was transported back in time. She is the same size as him. She has the same domineer as him. She even has the same tuft of white hair on her chin, like he did…
“Hello Rocky, hey boy” I said to myself.
Shortly after, my neighbor came racing to the door with many apologies. I, again, told her that it was our pleasure, really. When they left, my heart sank a little. The house became slightly empty around me and when Nathanael took my hand and looked at me, I felt he was thinking the same thing. He then showed me his picture of the neighborly dog and him. I am glad we have some pictures to remember this moment by.
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