They saw a lost dog. We turned around to find it. We went back, and it was gone.
On our way home from the Christmas party, we were all feeling pretty good. There was a nice, warm contentedness about us. I was even singing in my Christmas carols in my head when we drove up the hill. Suddenly and unexpectedly, sighs of,
“Poor dog!” reached my ears.
I looked up.
“Where?” I asked; but we had already passed him. I was told that he was black and white, like an Australian Shepherd.
“Like Max?” I asked again, comparing the image in my mind with our neighbor’s dog.
“No,” my mom answered. “His hair was longer.” By this time, my contentment vanished. A feeling of dread and anxiety for the little dog invaded the warmth of my heart, driving away my joy. My heart cried out for him.
“Can we go back?” I pleaded. She looked doubtfully at me.
My heart flopped.
“But it’s a dog!” My response may not have made sense to others, but she understood. I knew she would. She had the same longing in her heart to help that poor, helpless dog.
“What would we do if we found it?” she asked again, still hesitating. I immediately answered,
“Check its collar.”
She looked at my brother, raising her eyebrows. “Are you serious?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
“But what if he bites?” was her next concern. My brother only shook his head and told her not to worry.
She took the next left turn; as we made our way back to where they last saw him, my pulse grew quicker and quicker with every passing moment. Finally, we stopped.
“You can let me off here,” said my brother. Quickly, he exited the car, crossed the street, and began to search the sidewalks. We drove alongside of him, waiting for results.
He came back emptyhanded.
“I didn’t see him,” was all he said. The throbbing in my heart became stronger. Inside, I breathed a prayer over and over again: keep him safe, Lord, please keep him safe!
We drove on longer; after going several blocks in one direction, and receiving no sign of the dog, my mother decided to go home.
I wanted to shout out, “No! He’s here somewhere! We have to find him!” But I knew better. It was a hopeless cause; he could’ve been far away by this time, maybe even in the opposite direction, or down a side road. And as much as I would’ve, we couldn’t spend all night out searching for a dog we couldn't find.
I felt like crying, but no tears came, so I cried inside for that dog. I had so wanted to feel the familiar fur of a dog again, and to cuddle up like I used to do. Even more, I knew what it was to lose a dog, and I wanted him to be safe, and to go back. All the way home, my eyes scanned the sidewalks, right and left, back and forth, to no avail. Not a trace of him was seen.
I walked into the house that night with a heavy heart, such a change from what it had been before. I am now writing this with the hope that he has been found and is home safely with his owners.
You may be wondering why I am writing this; maybe you even wonder at my feelings; for I certainly have never felt like this before when I saw lost dogs. But maybe you will understand when I tell you that I once had a dog. Her name was Pepper. I loved her with so much of my heart. When she died, she took a chunk our of my heart, a hole that can never quite be replaced. Do you understand, now, why I so wanted to help that dog? Maybe you do; maybe you don’t. But I know that I will never forget him. Even though I never saw him, his image is forever imprinted in my heart, black and white, shaggy, wandering the sidewalks; always wandering.
To the dog I never saw: Stay safe! For your sake, and for mine, stay safe!
December 21, 2017