March 13, 2009
“I need a dog,” I absently said aloud to myself on a Saturday back in September. A man who lives just across the way, was out standing in the crisp autumn air as his two dogs, one white Scottie, one purebred mutt, meandered about in the early morning sunshine looking for a place to do some business. Cut to the very next day, Sunday afternoon. I’d just pulled up to my dad’s house, we planned to visit Bean at work for coffee.
While awaiting his exit from the house, a lone dog, a Schnauzer, headed directly towards my car door from across the street, a clip in his step and a fervent look about him. Circling the car once, I lost sight of him and decided to exit the car hoping to speed my dad along. Halfway up the drive, the dog rounded the corner of the house scurrying away at my approach. Just then, my dad emerged and I asked if he knew whose dog he was. He didn’t know, nor seem to really care.
Now I’ve seen several dogs roaming about over the years, clearly having escaped from the safe confines of a fenced yard a time, or two. They often have a wag to their tail, a spring in their step and are happily following their noses meandering to and fro. A sense that they know where they’re going, or at least soon will, has always been present. This little Schnauzer, though, looked truly lost. Knowing my dad’s tendency to be EVERYBODY, I got out of the car we’d just entered to investigate, leaving a huffy father behind, closing the door before he had a chance to object.
They hadn’t a clue whose dog he could be, suggesting a potential house down around the way.
The dog had crossed the road and was growling at the twin neighbor girls coaxing him over from behind the safety of a chain link fence. There was no wiggle-waggle in his little doggie tail and he half cowered as he slinked towards the girls’ outstretched hands. He allowed them to pet him, though, returned to a low growl when he saw me approaching. I immediately knelt down to his level and he countered with a whimper. He timidly came to my beck and call where I was able to read his dog tags. “Malcolm.” The number printed along with his name was no longer in service according to a quick cell call. Thankfully, a rabies vaccination vet tag included a phone number as well, but another call let me know they were closed until Monday, the next day. Leaving Malcolm to be fawned over by the two 6-year-old munchkins with the words “I’ll be back soon!”, I knocked on their grandparent’s door in hopes of further direction. They hadn’t a clue whose dog he could be, suggesting a potential house down around the way. After checking with that particular house to no avail (the dad came along actually enjoying it all once he’d resigned himself to the idea that there was to be a slight delay in getting to where we were going), I headed back to the chain link fence. No Malcolm, no girls. He was sitting on a porch back across the street, looking one way, then the other. He very much reminded me of a little old man, forlorn and abandoned. Heading to the car trunk, I resolved to take Malcolm home, if he chose to come without much of a struggle. Fetching a bungee cord as a makeshift leash I was able to hook one end to his collar and led him easily into the backseat of the car. He began growling at the sight of my dad, but soon settled down.
Once we reached Bean’s work, I asked if she had a moment where she could come out and look at what was in the backseat. She have me a funny look. Approaching the car out in the parking lot, she saw that it was an animal, a dog, and exclaimed, “I knew you were gonna have a dog in your backseat!” As though I go around on rescue missions of furry critters all the time. Hardly, but there’s a first time for everything, yes? She sat down next to him after introducing herself. The thing is, Bean is not much of a dog person, or animal person in general, for that matter. If there is a dog she’s gonna warm to, it’s gonna be a Schnauzer due to her living with our grandparents for a time as a teenager where they had a Schnauzer she’d befriended. Kismet!
As blood sprang to the surface and began its trickle down my hand, we managed to coax Malcolm from his spot nestled in the doggy bed in the car and began the trek upstairs.
Following a trip to the store for bedding, food, a toy (of course), plus a leash (all purchased by the dad!), it was a time crunch to get Malcolm home and situated before I was due at a friend’s BBQ. A call to Shane and soon I had a partner to help in hauling everything up the three flights of stairs while attempting to get Malcolm to follow via leash. Just then, a man came walking up the steps to the sidewalk along which my car was parked. With him, a humungo husky named Alexis, I’m talking serious fur poofage, that decided to become especially friendly in perusing the contents of my backseat, AKA Malcolm. To further complicate things, in haste to cut the strap that bound the new leash with a box knife from the trunk tools, I deeply gouged my thumb as well. As blood sprang to the surface and began its trickle down my hand, we managed to coax Malcolm from his spot nestled in the doggy bed in the car and began the trek upstairs. We shut all the doors to the rooms and such, in order to coral Malcolm until we saw how he’d react, and then set him up with some chow. I left him on the lap of Shane watching TV until Bean arrived home.
Hours later, I opened the apartment door and headed down the hall only to be greeted by “Grrrrrrrrrrr …”. Well now, that was a fine how-do-ya-do. There sat Bean and Shane, the smell of bacon lingering in the air, chowing down on a late meal and watching the Halloween remake (poor job overall, Mr. Zombie) in the company of little dog lost. I sat on the floor. Malcolm went round to Shane’s legs and hid. I spent the next ten minutes trying to re-win the affections of that dog, with him finally relenting and climbing in my lap (I cheated: afore mentioned bacon). Once Bean headed to bed, Malcolm wasn’t grasping the concept of staying put in his little doggie bed. He continually wandered down the hall to where I worked at the desk in the Spare Oom eventually collapsing at my feet. After a midnight walk in an attempt to provide a business-doing opportunity, it was time for bed. I woke off and on throughout the night to the jingle of his collar tags as he continued to pace the hall. Nearing 3 a.m., he let out one pert bark and scratched once at my bedroom door. I didn’t get up. In the morning, there were five territorial piles of brown and yellow about the living room. A call to the vet provided me with a new number for Malcolm’s owners. Amy and Steve were beyond thrilled to hear from me, and we quickly made arrangements to return their dog. During the time up until then, Malcolm became increasingly comfortable in our home, making himself at rest on my bed, and happily barking at the crows that perch on the roof overhang each morning.
I swear I could hear the sweeping rise of an orchestral underscore as the moment unfolded before our very eyes.
I picked my dad up on the way to the reunion, and as we rounded the corner into the meeting spot, a nearby public parking lot, Malcolm began sniffing. We put his leash on, he hopped off the car seat down to the pavement, rounded the back of the car, and upon the sight of his owners, proceeded to galavant, to gallop, to outright will his way across the road, back legs nearly eclipsing his front in the excited scramble to get to his family. He took a running jump and leapt into the air nearly bowling over Amy as she grasped onto him and held tight. I swear I could hear the sweeping rise of an orchestral underscore as the moment unfolded before our very eyes. The couple’s youngest daughter, not yet in school, was there, too, jumping up and down, calling out, “Malcolm! Malcolm!” They greeted us with the warmest of cards complete with a Starbucks card (yay!) and many, many repeated thanks as we proceeded to share of their pet’s adventures during their brief separation.
Turns out he lived just around the block from my dad, and had dug his way out to an inconceivable bit of freedom. The reason for such a detailed account lies in my trying to decipher at exactly which point it was that I developed such a sense of attachment to him, was set to keep him in a heartbeat. It must simply be that with each new step, each new task, time was given, care, and affection just naturally built its way in. Oh, to be a cute little doggie, at times, huh?
Please pardon the blur, I approached Malcolm with the camera flash OFF.