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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ghost Dogs

When we had to have our beloved dog "put to sleep" in June I vowed to never have another dog. Roxie is irreplaceable and I knew there would never be another dog like her.

I began to waffle on that hard line position within days. Searching the Internet for dogs that needed adopting and missing the steady reassuring presence of my "girl" lead me to pray a special prayer. I told God that if he wanted me to have another dog, that He should put the right one in my path. I wasn't going to actively seek one, but would accept the happenstance of one choosing me.

One torrid, hot day last month, while entertaining Christine from D.C, a skinny white husky came to my front door talking and crying for attention. You would have thought we were best friends. I had to give him water and food. I read his tags and found him to be a neighbor and felt he just stopped by for a cold drink and an appetizer. That occurs regularly around here. After some lengthy petting and talking, he ran off with a backward glance and a howl as he crossed the orchard and disappeared into the trails.

Christine and I continued lunch and marveled at the compelling way this dog named Polar expressed himself with dog talk. This is a well known trait of the Husky breed. Within 5 minutes Polar was back at the door and more insistent than ever. Was I seeing double? He was back with an identical female version of himself. I never found out her name as she was very skittish and hyper. I could never hold her down long enough to read her tags. She drank and ate,and talked and implored alongside Polar. We were convinced that something was wrong. The 2 of them would run 50 yards away and then back and then off again.

This, of course, triggered thoughts of the old TV show "Lassie". Was Timmy down the well? Was there an intruder at their homestead Ala O.J in Brentwood? We were so concerned we went by car to the address on Polars tag and Christine interviewed the preteen kids that came to the door. "Are you safe? Is there an intruder? Blink twice for yes and once for no!" The kids assured us that their dogs roamed the whole neighborhood all of the time and they were just fine. I am sure that they must have thought we were suffering heat stroke. The rest of the day the dogs came and went and we just coexisted with little contact except for keeping the water dish full.

This went on for several days and the "kids" were often found curled up in the shade of my olive trees waiting for me and the inevitable treats. The water dish became a permanent fixture. My man wasn't loving this arrangement and the kids were being disrespectful and growling at Mr. Man. I called the owners and asked if they could control the dogs so my hubby could feel safe getting from the car to the house. The dogs disappeared and all was quiet for a couple of weeks.

Fast forward. After a notable absence and I confess, some feelings of longing, Polar reappeared at our front door. This time he did not go home. For a whole week he spent the night curled up on the back patio. Still too skinny and thirsty we all started to bond with this handsome husky.

Evan brought him into the house. I brushed and groomed the nettles out of his thick coat. When Don ran the horse trails Polar hopped over our fence and joined him. They ran together as companions.We all started to enjoy each others company. Based on his choice of us, the fact that he knew his way home and would not go, and our growing fondness for each other, I felt like a prayer had been heard and answered.

That very night driving in past the community mailbox we saw the poster for LOST DOG. It was Polar. The poster said that he had a family that missed him.The kids cried themselves to sleep every night. I sat the boys down and said we have to return him. I thought he was unwanted, underfed and mistreated too. The poster changed everything. I placed the call and made one household happy and ours very sad.

The nice man and preteen beauty pulled up in a familiar truck and bounded out towards Polar while my son and I held his collar. What happened next took us all by surprise. I released my grip on the collar and Polar took off running into the dark night away from his owners and out of sight! My boy took chase as we all called out and whistled and pleaded for Polar to come back. I stood in stunned silence as the man explained that his dog was afraid of his truck. He explained how the dogs loved to run and his 3 acres just were not enough. He asked me where the water source was that Polar drank from? He told me that the gardener had left the electric fence off and that 3was how they escaped. He also said he loved the dogs but they took off all the time because that is what the breed did. I did not tell him that Polar slept over curled on a blanket on the patio. I did not tell him that Polar only ran when it was morning jog time and to chase my car up the driveway as I drove away. I watched him turn around and wait under the olive tree until I returned. I definitely did not tell him that he lay at my feet or outside the front door all day long and never ran away from here. Till now. And I definitely did not tell him we had fallen in love with his dog.

After 15 awkward minutes we decided they should go home and when Polar returned (as I was sure he would) I would call them to come back and not bring the dog out until the engine was off. We turned to enter the house as they walked to the truck. I opened the door and there in my foyer sat Polar. One ear to the door waiting for the first family to leave? I feel like I turned him over to the enemy somehow. I was so excited to see him that I shouted out and just like that he was gone. The most talkative dog in the world, had not said a word. I am pretty sure Polar ran from the front of the house straight to the back, jumped the fence and entered the house through Evan's open slider. All the time we were calling him and talking about him, he sat safely in the house of his second family. He thought he had outsmarted the system. I ratted him out. Now the little girls don't cry themselves to sleep. We have agreed as a family, that if Polar ever breaks through the electric fence and returns to us, he will be ours...

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