About A Dog

I seem to have a lot of stories about dogs, (see here and here and here) considering the fact that I don’t have any pets. Not anymore. I used to have a bird, but that was a long time ago. Her name was Sloopy, but she is a story for another time.

Last night I was driving home. As I turned onto my street, there was a pickup truck pulled over on the side of the road, with his flashers on. It was strange. I have never seen anyone stopped on my street, it’s just not that kind of street, poor visibility, et cetera. I swung wide to pass him and turn into my upper street, and I glanced over as I passed, just to make sure no help was needed. Well, there was a guy, out of the truck, crouching down to pet a dog. Lily. Her I know. She belongs to George, who lives a few houses down from me, and she is the world’s friendliest Yellow Lab. I didn’t see George, but it was dark out and I wasn’t really looking.

I pulled in to my garage, got out, grabbed the packages outside and carried them in the house. I then went back out and walked to the mailbox. As I was grabbing my mail, I heard George yelling for Lily. Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach and I headed in George’s direction. I called out to him to ask if Lily was missing. Sure enough, he couldn’t find her. They came out to do something and she took off chasing something. He called for her but she didn’t come back. He then went inside to put on his warm coat and grab her leash to hunt for her.

In the minute or so that he was inside I came in and saw the truck and Lily. I kid you not, from the time I saw the truck to my conversation with George, was under two minutes. In that time, someone actually picked up his dog. I explained what I saw but I didn’t have much detail. Pickup truck. Dark color. Where he pulled over and that it was a guy and definitely Lily. That’s it. But I may have seen this dog get kidnapped.

It happened to me once, long ago. I had a dog in college. Thunder. A beautiful Husky mix, pure white with blue eyes. Someone stole him right from my parents yard. I know that feeling. It makes you sick. George was visibly upset. I didn’t know what to say, certainly there was nothing I could do. I asked if she had tags and she does. She is also microchipped, which is good. But as George said, if he wanted her, he could just keep her and no one would ever know.

I fell back on all I could offer him. I said “George, it’s the holiday season and it is raining and about to turn cold tonight, perhaps we are dealing with a Good Samaritan who saw a loose dog and picked her up to keep her safe. Maybe he will get home, read her tag, and call”. There was nothing else to say or do. I apologized for not being able to do more and headed for home.

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number, but it was local and I just had a feeling. I picked up and it was George. He was calling to tell me I was right. That guy saw Lily running in the road. He pulled over and she was friendly so he picked her up and drove home. At home, he checked her tag and called George. Then he drove her home, safe and sound. He really was trying to be a Good Samaritan even though he kind of made it worse as he picked Lily up right in front of her own house. But, she is safe in her happy home.

George just wanted me to know and thank me for letting him know what I saw. I was glad to know that she was safe and that there are still kind strangers out there in the world. It’s a good reminder any time, but I love it even more this time of year.

And, yes, Mom, this is cranky George from the pool. He must have mellowed since retiring from pool duty. And he seems to love me. He talked my ear off for ten minutes during that call! He also told me he loves my bells-Christmas decor for those who haven’t been to my house this time of year. They are motion activated and musical. He said he heard them one night and wandered around to find the source and loves them so much he makes a point to walk by and set them off each evening on his walk with Lily.

Who knew? There is my holiday tale of Good Samaritanism and Christmas bells. All starring Lily the lab.

The Big Brown Dog

Josie, the big brown dog. That’s what we called her. Well, on the occasion we got my mom to admit she wasn’t people, that is.

She was my mom’s dog, but she was our family dog.



She was put to sleep on July 25, at the ripe old age of 13. That’s old for a dog, especially for a Lab, but it still doesn’t seem like enough time. It never does when you have to say goodbye.

Unfortunately for me, I was out of town and did not get to say goodbye to Josie-girl. However, the last time I saw her, the Tuesday before, I was sitting in the garage and she was sleeping. She got up and came over and laid down at my feet. She curled up and rested her face on my foot.

When she was a puppy, she was obsessed with feet and was always licking and nipping at everyone’s feet. As she aged, she stopped doing that, but we’d still get a lick once in a while if we wore flip flops around her. That night, I thought to myself, “that Josie, she still likes people’s feet” as I sat and chatted with my family. But now I wonder if she didn’t know. If that wasn’t just her way of saying goodbye. Maybe, somehow, she could sense that it was the last time we’d see each other.

She was a sweet and easygoing dog, kind of goofy, but so full of love. I’m not much of a dog person, but Josie made it very easy to love her, to imagine having a dog of my own. She might have been the world’s worst guard dog, she never bark until a car was already parked in the driveway, which isn’t much warning, or not at all, or at nothing. Didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to her system.

She loved children and never tired of playing with them. She would sit patiently and let Arionna feed her dinner, one single piece at a time. She’d catch the ball for Simon over and over and over again, tirelessly.

Simon and Josie


She was the only dog I’ve ever known who preferred a butt rub to a belly rub or an ear scratch. But, in fact, she loved being petted so much she couldn’t even hold still for it. Sometimes I’d scratch behind her ears and she’d wiggle around until she was practically dancing in a circle around me. She’d give a little nudge if she didn’t think she got enough loving, definitely she wasn’t shy.

Josie in Repose


She was a wonderful dog and a member of our family. She could be a pain in the ass, but then she’d stop and look at you with that sweet face and you’d forget why you got mad at her in the first place. We watched her train us all how to be her people. She knew who the easy marks were for food, she knew who’d take her outside the fastest, she knew the sucker for some petting, she knew us as well as we knew her. And even though I haven’t lived with her for almost four years, she never forgot. Whenever I’d come by she’d be right there, at the door, wagging her tail as though she missed me like crazy.

Which is exactly how we are all going to miss her. Like crazy. And forever.

Josie in black and white (RIP edit)

Don’t Kill My Dog…Nice Car

I picked up an extra shift at Hamline tonight. As I was driving there, I was cruising down the side streets. I was only a few blocks from my destination when, up ahead in the road were these three guys standing next to a van. One of the guys was in the middle of the road. I would have had to drive down the wrong side of the street to pass him.

Instinctively, I slowed down. As I got closer, he held up his hand. It wasn’t the traditionally recognized symbol for “stop” and he wasn’t waving. I really wasn’t sure what he was doing. Unfortunately for us both, I was paying more attention to him than to my driving.

Suddenly, the man’s dog ran out from behind the van and directly in front of my car. My heart leapt up into my throat and I gripped the wheel as tightly as possible as I slammed on the breaks with both feet. I also swerved as hard as I could to the left, in order to not kill the dog running straight at me.

Fortunately, I had already started slowing down because of the man, which saved the dog’s life. My tired squealed and the whole car shuddered as I forced 3500 lbs of car to a halt in a fraction of the time it normally takes. Before the car had come to a complete stop, the dog hit me. As in, this crazy-ass mutt ran headlong into my car. (Gus is fine, don’t worry). But, it was so immediate that I knew that if I hadn’t swerved and braked, that dog would have become a pancake under the force of the Cadillac.

My sunroof was open and the guy–middle of the road guy–turned toward the dog and screamed at it to get out of the road and into the van. Evidently, that’s what they were doing, trying to get the dog in the van and the dog was not cooperating. It was a big dog, a Mastiff, I think, and it clearly had a mind of its own.

After the dog got out of the road (not into the van, mind you, just out of the road), the guy turned toward me and spoke to me through the sunroof. I was taking calming breaths to restore my racing heart. He said, “Thank God the for the Caddy’s ABS, huh?” I responded with, “is the dog okay?”. And the guy said that he was, although I never saw him check the dog…

Then he looked at my car and said, “Sweet ride, is this the one that’s been up for sale on Snelling?” I said no, because it wasn’t. Middle of the road guy then asked me, “are you sure? Because it looks like the one from Snelling.” I assured him that this car was never for sale along Snelling Avenue. And he said, “well, whatever, its a sweet ride, thanks for not killing my dog.”

I actually laughed out loud and said, “you’re welcome.” It was just that ridiculous. And then I drove away and was subsequently three minutes late to work. But at least I had a story to tell…