Monday, November 3, 2008


Perhaps I've watched to many episodes of Cross Country and the Dog Whisperer. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for big brown eyes. Either way, I have fallen for a wayfaring stranger with 4 short legs and tail that seldom stops wagging.

Last week, after dropping my sister off at the airport I drove home in one of those fogs where you think you're driving safely but in all actuality your mind is a million miles away from the activity at hand, i.e. going 65 miles per hour on a 4-lane highway. It always kind of surprises me to find I've gotten myself home in one piece.

As I neared my own neighborhood on that fate-filled day, a black fur ball on the sidewalk next to a busy street pulled me from my depression. It seemed strange that a dog would have picked that particular spot to lie down and take a nap. Something was not quite. In an instant, I went from woe-is-me mode to Super Girl. Knowing I couldn't do the rescuing myself, that I needed my trusty sidekick, I sped home and yelled from the door, "Sweetie, I need you!"

Talk about fast moving. When I yell like that my man can hustle. He stopped only long enough to slip on some shoes and a shirt. Without a care for the early morning chill, he jumped in the still running rescuemobile without long pants or a hat. Bundled up in a warm sweatshirt, I didn't even notice that my sweetie might soon be in the same state of hypothermia as the dog we were going to pick up.

I drove past the dog once heading North, then made a U-turn across a lane of cars heading for work in the other direction. Al Unser couldn't have done it any better! To my semi-observant eye, the dog had not lifted one paw in the ten minutes since I'd last seen him. I stopped the car right next to the tired pooch, and the real rescuer hopped out of the car - noticing for the first time the temperature was hovering in the 40's. Undaunted, my man walked up to the black bundle of nerves. He carefully but with authority (like I said we've watched a lot of Cesar Milan lately and know the human has to assume the role of Alpha dog in all situations) held out his hand for a good sniff by a dog who could barely hold its head up. Having grabbed a collar instead of a jacket, Sweetie slipped it around the dog's neck with a swift singular motion. The dog then stood and walked himself right into the back seat of the car as if he knew it was his lucky day. If dogs pray, I've got to believe this dog's prayers had been answered. It might sound egotistical, but if I were a dog that needed to be rescued and didn't live anywhere the Selah, Washington, I'd want to be rescued by Sweetie and me!

Even though I did everything a good rescuer is supposed to do, I fell hard for the cuteness of this dog. I called around to the local shelters leaving my name and number as well as a description of the dog. I called a dog rescue place only to receive the helpful information that I should NOT give the dog to just anyone because lost dogs are often used for dogfighting bait. (I could have lived my whole life without knowing that.) I had the pooch scanned for a microchip. I put an ad in the newspaper. I drove around the neighborhood looking for Lost Dog signs. Then, feeling like I'd done all I could do to no avail, I let down my guard, shot right past like and began loving the transient canine.

In the beginning my Sweetie demanded that I wash my hands every time I touched the dog. Dad paid little attention to the visitor as long as he was restricted to a pallet in the garage. He made it clear HE already had a dog, and didn't need/want another one. Then I had a thought; just a little tickle at first, but one I couldn't let it go.

One of the first pets my parents got when they returned to the mainland after their Hawaiian honeymoon was a black cocker spaniel, named what else - Blackie! The more I thought about the coincidences - my sister's visit, the John Edward's show, a dog that seemed to be waiting just for me to drive by and my parent's history with cockers - I pretty much convinced myself that Blackie, or Frank as others are trying to name him, is a sign from my mom that she's hovering nearby. Sure, she could have tried to reach me by making the washing machine spin backwards. Yet in typical mom fashion, she knew I need a love message not more work.

It's a stretch I know. Still, I haven't gotten any calls from disheartened owners. The pallet piled up with blankets has moved into the family room. Black Beauty (Dad's dog) has let the interloper know she's boss. The cats are slinking through the house taking a wide berth around a dog who just wants to play. I'm pretty sure our family has been increased by one. One very cute, obedient, just-what-Mama-ordered black dog. [Photo Left: "Maybe if I just sit here but don't look at her, the cat won't even know I exist."]

I'm holding off a visit to the vet. I don't want to pay to have the dog examined, immunized and neutered only to find out he is a Grand Champion canine whose stud fees could bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

I don't know why these things happen. But I do know a dog by any other name has got to be love.

Merry ME

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