The day before Rudy began driving home from Arkansas, I began wondering how his allergies were going to adapt to the two cats that have been living in our house for the past year. Just as I pulled into my work site’s parking lot, I received a picture of a mostly white, medium-sized dog from Roberto. Random dog inside our house, he texted. I knew immediately that the dog had slipped under our garage door, through the ten inch opening meant as a convenience for the cats’ comings and going.
Before the dog entered the kitchen, Brad had been sitting on the couch listening to an audio book, in preparation for a test that morning in class. He heard an unfamiliar clicking sound, turned to look what was causing the noise, and saw the dog standing there, eye-balling him. Brad jumped up and sprinted into Roberto’s room whisper-yelling, There’s a dog out there! As both boys stood cautiously back, wondering what to do, the dog gently walked over to them, rubbing his nose in Roberto’s hand. He immediately looked for tags, or any other kind of identification, but found none. After Brad had gone to school, Roberto took the dog to PetCo to see if an identification chip had been implanted, to find out who owned the dog. No such luck. A sales clerk gave the dog a bag of goodies: food, a leash, and some treats.
Later, when I returned home from work, the dog was in the backyard alone, relaxing. With no information about the dog, I knew he would be spending the night with us, and possibly days ahead. Hey, how is the dog?, Roberto texted. He’s quiet. He likes company… and you should give him a name, just so we can call him something other than dog, I texted back. It didn’t take him long to respond. Nelson. As in Willie Nelson, he wrote. That night, Nelson slept with Roberto, in his bed. Nelson never did bother the cats. He had a healthy appetite and drank plenty of water; yet, he was breathing heavy, was very tired, seemingly lazy, and mostly, Nelson seemed sad. Also, the small circular gash, as if he was poked with some kind of skewer in his leg, didn’t help.
As I was cooing to him and petting his smooth white fur, I contemplated Rudy’s arrival within the next twenty-four hours. I wondered how his allergies were going to respond to Nelson.
The next day, Nelson was limping, and constantly licking his injury. And by this time Rudy was home, enjoying everything he missed while living in Arkansas. I had to forewarn him that yes, there is a dog at our house, but no, we will not be keeping him. I was going to find his owners, to bring back the spark of life into Nelson’s demeanor. Happily, as the day wore on, as I was returning from picking up Brad from the local skate park, we noticed a Lost Dog flyer. On it was a picture of Nelson. Yet, the three times I called the number listed, I was told that he was not missing a dog. Nelson, once again, slept with Roberto. Rudy patiently accepted the situation.
Early, the next morning, while Brad was having his baseball picture taken, I took the flyer to a few nearby homes, asking people if they recognized Nelson. No one did. Forty-five minutes into my adventure, a man was climbing into his car when I hollered, Do you know who this dog belongs to? He pointed to a house up the street from his, and stated that the elderly couple was going to be so happy to have their dog home.
I knocked on the front door, and was greeted by a woman, possibly my age, being followed by a lady I assumed to be her mom. I held up my phone, showing them the picture of Nelson and asked if the dog belonged to them. The older woman raised her arms, excited, claiming the dog. Tosh! That’s my Tosh. His brother, Mac, who is blind and deaf, has been missing him. She pulled me into her house and introduced me to Mac. Mac and Tosh, I said, grinning. That’s cute. He looked like Tosh, except for his eyes. Tosh helps Mac. He guides him, makes sure he is safe, she said, happily. Then she hugged me, and introduced me to her wheelchair-bound husband.
I held up the photo once again and asked if the phone number listed was theirs. She said yes without really looking at it. I explained that I had been trying to call. Then she looked one more time, and realized the number was incorrect. How did you find us then? the younger woman asked. I told them my story. Then, even though I offered to bring Tosh back to their place, the elderly woman jumped into her own car and said, No. I will come and get him myself. Then she gunned the engine.