If dogs could talk, oh what tales they would tell

March 08, 2007|By KEVIN COWHERD

The whole thing began early one morning when I stumbled downstairs in search of a cup of coffee and discovered a new dog in the kitchen.

The old dog was there, too.

The old dog was staring at me as he usually does, sending concentrated thought waves that said: "You! Get me food!" or "How 'bout one of those beef-and-chicken treats, sport?"

Now the new dog was staring at me, too and putting out the same vibe.

"There's a new dog in the kitchen," I shouted to my wife.

"You don't miss much," she shouted back.

The new dog's story was this: She had darted in front of my daughter's Jeep the night before on a darkened road near our house.

A dog with a death wish? A runaway who'd said adios to a life defined by cheap, flavorless dog food and sterile backyard fences?

Who knew?

But the dog was cute and fluffy and had no collar, and it was shivering, too. So, my daughter brought the dog home until she could find its owner.

Then she went off to work, leaving the new dog to follow me around the house and stare, just like the old dog.

Later that morning, my daughter called to say she'd made up some posters that said: "Found: small white dog. Call this number if you want the dog back."

The posters were in the family room, she said. Could we put them up around the neighborhood?

She had also done some research and discovered the dog was a bichon frise, described by the American Kennel Club as "a small, sturdy, white powder-puff of a dog" with a "merry temperament."

"Maybe," I said. "But the dog stares a lot. Have you noticed that?" My daughter said she hadn't. But I didn't know how you could miss something like that.

After she hung up, I had some time to kill, and there's no better way to do that than by getting entangled in bureaucratic red tape.

So I called the Humane Society to report a lost dog, and they suggested I call Animal Control.

Animal Control told me to take the dog to the police station, which has a kennel out back, and they would pick up the dog from there tomorrow.

"It's too cold to leave the dog in a kennel," my wife said. "Let's put the posters up and see if the owner calls."

So I told my two sons to go put the posters up around the neighborhood, so someone would call and claim the dog.

For the rest of the morning, the new dog followed me around and stared.

So did the old dog. It was like being creeped out in stereo.

In the afternoon, my wife took the new dog for a long walk.

When they returned, I asked: "Did the dog stare at you a lot?"

No, my wife said. The dog just walked. She seemed happy to be outside.

Late that afternoon, I couldn't handle all the staring from the two dogs anymore - they were following me from room to room and trying to get into the bathroom with me - so I left.

I went to 5:30 Mass and prayed for everyone's soul.

Then I prayed that someone would come and get the new dog before all the staring drove me crazy.

When I got home around 7, the new dog was gone. Wow, I thought. You really can't discount the power of prayer.

Now the story was this: Right after I had left, my daughter had come home from work and taken a phone call from a woman who was sobbing with joy.

The woman said she had seen one of the posters and the little white dog was hers.

Well, it wasn't actually hers, she said. It was her mother-in-law's dog.

The mother-in-law was from Ohio and had brought the dog along on her visit. The daughter-in-law was supposed to be watching the dog when the mother-in-law went out for the evening, but somehow the dog had escaped, maybe through a door accidentally left open.

The daughter-in-law then became frantic, assuming that losing the dog wouldn't do much for her relationship with her mother-in-law.

So my daughter drove the little white dog to the house of the woman who had called, and she and her husband were very grateful.

It turned out the little white dog's name was Mattie, although don't hold me to that spelling. It might be Maddy or Maddie or something like that.

Look, I don't check spelling when I'm off-duty.

Anyway, that dog is gone. But the old dog is still here, following me around and staring and sending out the thought waves.

The old dog, boy, he just doesn't let up.


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