He sat on the front steps when I opened the door that Monday morning and looked up at me with lively dark eyes.  His black coat and eyes shone in the morning sun, his pink tongue hung out, and his tail wagged good morning as if he belonged there.  Actually, his whole body seemed to be wagging.  A blue collar encircled his neck, giving me a glimmer of hope.  This beautiful dog belonged to somebody and had obviously been well cared for.  He was sleek, but not skinny, and his coat was healthy.  Maybe the collar had a name on it.  The puppy came right to me when I called him, but the collar was blank.  I had no idea where to start looking for a lost owner.  

Larry and I found ourselves in yet another dog quandary.  How could we possibly find his owner?  First, we took pictures of him and posted them on various websites and on bulletin boards around town.  I consulted with Facebook friends and enlisted my sister’s help.  We accosted everyone we met, asking, “Do you know anyone who’s lost a puppy—a black lab mix?  Please help us find his owner.”

Naturally, when the grandchildren came to visit, they were excited. As they piled out of the car after their four-hour drive, the puppy bounded about their feet and licked them, welcoming them like long lost friends. 

“Oh, Grandma, you have a new dog, a friend for Bentley,” Jakey said.  “Don’t give this one away like you did Roscoe. I didn’t like that very much, you know.”

The whole time they were here, they romped and played in the back yard with the nameless puppy.  I watched, wondering if some child were missing his black dog.  I didn’t know what else to do.  

When the children went home, the puppy was forced to play with Bentley, our eight-year-old chocolate Lab.  He bit Bentley’s silky brown ears, barked at him, and grabbed his tennis ball and ran with it.  When Bentley chased the ball and brought it back to me to throw again, the puppy stared in amazement, obviously wondering what the big dog was up to.  He soon realized that taking the ball and running with it upset Bentley, so he did it again and again, never tiring of this game.  When Bentley climbed into his kiddy pool to cool off, the puppy stood for long periods, watching him splash and play in the water.  The very next day, Larry and I noticed the two of them in the pool together.  The pup was learning.  Bentley was teaching him the ropes.

He’s a smart dog.  When Josh was visiting, he had the puppy sitting and fetching a ball after working with him for just a few minutes.  Bentley, of course, was jealous. He did not believe in sharing our attention, his treats, or anything, for that matter—most certainly not his tennis balls.

We got to the stage where we had to find a home for this puppy since we’d not been able to find his owner.  He deserves a good home, one where he’ll be a part of a family that loves him.  It’s not enough to just feed and water a dog.  He needs a family.  We suspect that he may be about seven or eight months old.  He is really growing.  We cannot let animals—stray or otherwise—starve, and we’ve fed him well. If you’d like to make this your dog, call us.  He’s just the right age to move into someone’s heart and home.  He just might be the dog you didn’t even know you were looking for.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This story, written about 9 years ago, has a happy ending because this dog found a home, a good one right here with us. He’s been with us since August of 2011 and no one can adopt him now.  He’s one of the family; actually, he practically runs this family, telling us when to go to bed and when to get up, when to feed him, when to play ball, and when to take him outside.  Of course, going outside means all of us, not just the dogs. He uses his snout often to point out the treat jar. His 3 adopted siblings just happened to find us as well.  They’ve all been spayed or neutered, and we love each of them dearly.  Caring for all our dogs is expensive, especially since Charlie developed allergies and his pills cost over $2 each.  Add on heartworm pills, flea preventative, and yearly checkups and we’re practically in the poor house.  Notice I didn’t even mention the cost of food. 

If you added a canine member to your family over the holidays, please commit to take care of it until death do you part.  That, my friend, is a part of the contract.  Don’t add another homeless animal to the streets already teeming with hungry, cold, abandoned strays.