2014-07-02 / Opinions & Letters

Midwest Memo

by Alan Shultz

Crossing paths

The dog appeared in our driveway late Saturday night - well past midnight. It was a humid, dark moonless night and his journey must not have been easy. The dog was soaking wet when he met the first of us. That was son Jeff, who encountered him in the driveway. Jeff figured the dog had crossed the creek on the south in order to be that wet.

Despite the late night hour, and the fact they were strangers, the two of them played and roughhoused outside in the dark for a long while. The old, old saying is still true, boys will be boys.

In the morning the dog was rested and dry and sunning himself comfortably on our back stairs. But Jeff was asleep and not making introductions.

“Is that a big dog out there?” my wife asked as breakfast sausage sizzled in a big cast iron skillet on the right back burner of the stove.

Black and white in solid spots, dotted in others, the dog was a solid fella, a mutt of the truest lineage, a dog that could easily answer to the name Spot, or Pal or Buddy. He had a collar fastened around his neck. But tags weren’t to be found.

Introductions were made one-by-one.

A water bowl was filled.

The dog knew how to sit and to shake hands.

“Good dog, good fella.”

His tail waged and waged.

This dog belonged to somebody, or at least used to...

Speculation commenced. Should we make flyers, or place an ad in the Comet?

Sunday was a day of chores of weeding and mowing. There were garden borders to edge and some newly purchased plants to get in the rocky clay soil that surrounds the house.

There was a water spigot to fix. I didn’t, and moss discovered on the north side of the house to scrub. I ignored it, figuring it most certainly would wait.

It was hot and humid and a day to pace oneself. Nobody paced him or herself better than our new visitor. The dog added not one single entry to his “to do” list while we worked and toiled away. He casually observed, one eye open, one closed.

The dog walked alongside anyone who looked to have a purpose or a destination. A good companion he was. He never barked.

At one point he got on the scent of something or someone and seemed to be headed straight east. But that resolve was broken, or the trail went stale and the dog headed back to the shade of a sturdy walnut tree and proceeded to fall deep asleep.

In casual conversation there was speculation as to what food in the house might appeal to the dog. And since we never had a dog and never wanted one, it was a new subject when someone casually speculated where you might put a dog run in.... if one were to do such a thing.

Out in the country word travels pretty reliably neighbor to-neighbor and word can travel pretty fast. Late afternoon word arrived that a big black and white dog was missing from a house on the gravel road south-west of us.

It turned out our guest for the day was just passing through. He had a name. It was Sam. He had a home, not far from here. And soon enough he had a ride, in the front seat of a pick up truck that soon pulled into our driveway.

And the moral to the story, if there needs to be one, is to open the back door expectantly each morning. For what adventure lies outside - on or beyond the back door stoop is a daily mystery until it is revealed.

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