Day 12 of 31 – Journeys (my March theme)
Among my last words to my brother’s dog Feivel in my special dog voice before he’d crossed the Rainbow Bridge was an invitation back to the Johnson Funny Farm, where Poppy and I would be waiting to welcome him. My brother told me that Feivel had raised his head at the sound of my voice across the phone’s speaker in his final moments, so I knew he was hearing…..and listening. I just may not have realized how seriously he was taking me.
Feivel loved the farm where he and my brother lived in Concord, and he loved our farm in Williamson, too. Pike County, Georgia is an hour south of the world’s busiest airport and light years from any town. We are as rural as it gets. We don’t even have curtains in our house. This place is a dog’s paradise – they can chase squirrels and sniff and track the footprints of all kinds of critters, tire out and then bask away the afternoon in the sun. They often find a soft patch of clover and roll over and wiggle-scratch their backs, kicking all four legs in the air in sheer joy and smiling that satisfied upside-down dog grin that reminds us that we, too, should live more fully in each moment.
Dogs here do their favorite country dog thing ever: after a bath or grooming, especially right after a fresh rain, they sniff the wet ground for worms. Dog masters see it happening from across the way and try to stop it, but it never fails – the dog always wins. They hone in on one unsuspecting worm and drop the left shoulder onto the ground before the clover-roll elation begins and all four legs are kicking and thrusting toward heaven with unbridled joy as the dog continues this muddy, dead worm perfuming ritual.
When I left for work on Monday morning after the break, I noticed a tan dog playing by the edge of the road near our driveway. Oh no. It’s gonna get hit, I worried, teary-eyed, as my heart skipped a beat. I need to turn around and see if it has a tag. I need to get it to safety. But it would have made me late, so I kept driving, praying that someone else with time to spare would help the poor baby to safety and that no one would hit it.
I drove slowly, peeking out through my finger-covered eyes on my way home to see if there were any signs of a dog fatality on the road; thankfully, there were none, so I pulled into the driveway, stopped and crossed the road to get the mail, and returned to the car to begin the long crawl up the driveway to the house.
On Wednesday afternoon’s mail check, though, she was there, playing at the edge where I had seen her on Monday. When she saw me get out of the car, she broke out in a full clumsy run toward me, wagging her tail, begging for attention but far too skittish to let me touch her. I coaxed her from the road to the driveway to avoid the cars that fly at high speeds down our road and saw her ribs and felt her hunger radiating.
Hunger was no problem for a sugar junkie! I had a stash of cherry Twizzlers in the console of my Rav, and I unwrapped one and offered it. She would not come all the way to me at first, so I kept throwing out pieces closer and closer, Hansel and Gretel- like, to try to see if she had a tag with an owner’s number that I could call to help her get back home. When I finally lured her close enough, I could see that her collar appeared to be chewed on, and there was no number or tag.
It appeared she’d been dumped.
I posted her picture on every local Facebook pet site I knew: Anyone missing this sweet girl?
I also texted my aunt, who had asked me no fewer than five times in recent months to please find her a dog. Their Lily had passed on, and she was missing the companionship. She’d texted: I want a medium or large dog (Lily had been huge). Nothing little that we might trip over, like yours. If no one claimed this dog, she’d be absolutely perfect for my aunt and uncle!
But her daughter texted me: Mom wants a dog so bad, but I’m not sure that she needs one. I know you understand.
My aunt who couldn’t quit asking for a dog wouldn’t be allowed to have her, and no owner was responding to my posts about a found dog – so the dog continued to sleep on our front porch. When I left for work on Friday morning, she was nowhere to be seen, so I figured she had moved on. As I prepared for a 9:30 meeting that was running late, I checked in to see if there was any news of the dog turning up at another house. A post from our road community page caught my eye.
To the owner of the tan/brown dog, I am so sorry. I hit him the is morning and tried to avoid, but I could not avoid him. The dog ran off but it was a hard hit. I know he has to be hurt. Please let me know if he is okay. It was an accident and my heart is broken. Also, please if you own a tan dog and he’s missing, please go look for him. I am terrified that he is suffering.
Tears welled in my eyes as I remembered her trying to come in and be part of our family the previous night. She’d waited for her opportunity to bolt in the door, and she’d made it past all efforts to block her. We had to pick her up and put her back outside, and in the process, she’d been so frightened that she’d puddled right on the wood floor. I’d felt so sorry for her – – and now, to know that she’d been hit was just too much.
I responded with a picture of the dog to the woman whose heart was broken, asking if the picture matched the dog she had hit.
I believe it is the same dog. So sorry.
I frantically called my husband at work, and he had a family member ride the roads to see if the picture of the dog matched any dead or injured one on the side of the road. I texted: Start at the house. If she’s injured, she probably tried to get back to where she felt she could get some help. And then I apologized to the man who’d arrived for our meeting and explained my emotional state. Thankfully, he understood and was patient each time my phone dinged.
Shortly, I received a text with her picture from our family member checking things out. She was standing out by the old chicken coop in the back yard with her playfully skittish stance, refusing to come close to anyone else, but clearly not dead or injured.
That afternoon, the brokenhearted driver messaged to see if we had found the dog she’d hit that morning.
She’s fine, I replied, we see no injuries and she’s running around like nothing ever happened.
When I got home, she covered me with dog kisses – grateful to see me. I found it oddly perplexing that she was so skittish of others and so quick to want to love my husband and me. After I’d taken the boys out to do their business, I came back in and sat down to rest from the day and catch my breath. A strange Twilight Zone feeling came over me all at once…..an invitation to Feivel to return to the Funny Farm, where we would be waiting…..a skittish dog quick to befriend my husband and me but no one else……a dog appearing on the Funny Farm, asking to be taken in when no dog has ever done that as long as we have lived here…… a neighbor who’d hit a dog she believed to be this one, now running around like nothing ever happened.
I just wonder.
33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.