Yesterday morning I was preparing to take Kyle to preschool when I heard the familiar sound of the dog's toenails scittering and scratching on the porch.
I hear it often when she's about to tear off at a run towards the street, where she can faithfully defend our home by barking at the poor jogger or dog-walker who dares to pass by our home.
I've also heard it less frequently when she's seeking protection on the front porch from something that startles her -- another dog on her property, a raccoon on the front porch, or in one very close call -- a skunk right in the front yard.
I opened the front door, and she scrambled through the make shift doggie door (the bottom part of the screen door which has no screen). And a little short-haired brown dog tried to come through as well! I shut Shadow into the house and went out on the front porch to check out this friendly-looking dog.
He was wearing a collar, but didn't look familiar to me. I checked out the tags, and there was a rabies vaccine and a SPCA identification tag, but no address or phone number, so I called the SPCA number. They said that they couldn't access the records, but they could come get him in about an hour, and hope that someone at the shelter recognized him or the owner called in. I wondered aloud if the vet rabies tag would help. He asked about the information on the tag, and said that it was their vet and it would lead back to them.
Last week on one of the very cold sub-zero mornings Amanda had called me from the bus (yes -- from one of her ten-year-old friends' cell phones):
"Mom, there was a cute German Shepherd dog following me around from our house to the bus stop. Can you go find him?"
I didn't go look for him (did I mention that it was below zero outside and I was in my pajamas?), and we didn't see any more of the dog that day, but when this dog appeared on our doorstep almost a week later, I had to wonder if it was the same dog who had either been wandering all this time or was in the habit of escaping from his home.*
I couldn't wait an hour for them to come get him, but he mentioned the vet's location and said that they might recognize him or the SPCA could pick him up there. Since it happened to be just a short jag out of the way of Kyle's preschool I decided to drop him off.
I picked up the dog and put him in back of the Suburban. After I buckled Kyle in and went around to get into my seat, Kyle said, "He's so sweet and cute. He likes me. He doesn't jump over the seat like Shadow does."
Because this little adventure made us a little bit late, I decided to take Kyle to school first and then take the dog to the vet. Kyle made some valiant suggestions on the way, including the fact that I could just "drop him off" in the parking lot and he could go in himself (I have to walk him into his classroom). He also said that he liked the dog and wanted to take care of him.
When I got back into the car, he had jumped over the seat and tried to crawl into my lap. At that time I noticed a shaved spot on his flank, indicating a recent surgery or injury repair. By the time I got to the vet, I decided that I agreed with Kyle. I wouldn't mind taking care of this dog myself either.
The vet had no information in their system on the rabies tag, but both of the vet techs said, "He looks so familiar. I feel like we just saw him."
Then she saw the scar. "L----. It's the L's dog!"
The other tech typed in the last name that her coworker had given, pulled up the record and said, "Lucky!"
As it turns out Lucky lives at least a mile away from my home. I'm not sure how he got out or how long he had been gone, but I'm glad that I could help him find his way home.
*After Amanda got back home, I determined that she actually did see a German Shepherd that day, not this small brown dog.