2/23/2017 This morning, when you woke up, maybe you rolled over and tearily told your partner: “Today is the day. It’s been a year. She’s been gone a year–can you believe it???”
Maybe you looked at her pictures on your refrigerator; spoke words of half-hearted comfort to your eight-year-old, who stubbornly refuses to give up hope that she will come home; mindlessly patted your “replacement” dog who will not ever replace her.
Perhaps you imagined her long dead on a lonely highway. Lost in woods, hungry and afraid. Stolen: a bait dog or a laboratory tester. Horrors all.
I should tell you, then, that she’s safely ensconced on our sofa. On her favorite pillow. Today, we’ve celebrated: she had her fill of Milkbones, went to the pet store for an anniversary toy, her head hanging happily out of the van window all the way there.
On the drive, she considered leaving us for the young guy in the blue Chevy at the red light; they eyed one another with shared understanding. We think that’s how you lost her: she jumped out of your car window on the highway, smack dab in the middle of No Man’s Land. Because this dog is definitely a runner, and as my daughter puts it, “She isn’t just running away. She is leaving you to start her new life.”
She was found running down the four lane highway, dodging semis. Lynn M—, a dog-lover hustled your pup into her vehicle and a state trooper stopped to help her–because, as I am sure you know, your dog does things with panache.
Last February when we Lynn’s desperate “dogneedsahomeTODAY” Facebook post, we didn’t really want this pup. We were grieving our perfect pit bull, Ezra, the (second) best dog we’d ever owned. But we had space in our home, and Lynn was in the middle of a move, so we half-heartedly offered to foster.
We put ads on the Internet. We tried to find you. Your dog had no microchip; the vet said she was half Labrador retriever, half dachshund, immediately adding, “Don’t try to picture it.”
When your dog was indifferent to our cats (whom Ezra always wanted to eat), we welcomed the change. That first day, your dog fell asleep on my lap, then cuddled next to my feet all night. She wasn’t pushy or demanding, nor was she cowering and timid. She was simply there, offering her companionship.
We could tell that she was someone’s beloved dog: she was housebroken; she sat on command; she refused to walk into a small room without hearty encouragement and instead stood expectantly, awaiting a release command that we did not know. When we got Ezra’s old crate from the garage, she entered it without complaint, and she still does so a year later–you trained her so well.
Our other dog and the four cats adapted to her, as did we. But we couldn’t name her. She had no defining characteristics. She wasn’t an Oreo, Shadow, or Midnight, either, and no girlie names fit. She was just a little dog. That was all.
And so we began simply calling her that, Little Dog. A homage to a favorite AFV video.
Her story is no Marley and Me. She hasn’t been funny or clever; other than escaping occasionally to romp through the neighborhood or visit the next-door Great Dane, there are no anecdotes, really, to share. All she has done is sit within arm’s length for a year–one of the worst years of our lives.
My seventeen-year-old grumbled one night as she sat petting Little Dog, “We should’ve known we were in for it when we got this Party Favor From God.”
That’s what she’s been for us. A tiny gift. A silent solace. Your little dog.
I’m so sorry you miss her.
I’m so grateful she’s here.