It began very early Thursday morning, around 1:30 a.m. My husband, George, got up to get a glass of water and let out our dog, Brownie. When he opened the back door, he saw a small black shadow on the deck. "Oh, no!" he thought, "a skunk!"
Brownie bounded out and sniffed the thing, and then continued into the yard. The little black shadow quickly scampered into the house.
By now, George was awake enough to realize it was not a skunk after all, but a puppy! Nonetheless, he was not happy about an uninvited animal in our home. The puppy really wanted to stay inside, but George wanted it out. Eventually, by coaxing it with his voice and pushing it with his feet, he got it back out on the deck.
George was relieved to get Brownie inside and the puppy outside. He sleepily climbed the stairs and lay down in bed, at which point I awoke.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"Didn't you hear the commotion?" he asked.
"What commotion?" I replied.
"I was trying to get something outside."
"What?" This wasn't making sense to me.
"A puppy," he answered.
"A puppy?" I was astounded. "What was a puppy doing in our house?"
He told me about letting Brownie out.
"So did you feed it?" I asked.
"Didn't you even give it a bone?"
"I'm sorry I even mentioned it," George said. He was beginning to wake up and feel a little guilty.
"But the poor little thing! He must be lost. You just left him out there?" I asked.
"I'm sorry I mentioned it." George was repeating himself and feeling even more guilty.
"What kind of puppy?" I asked. Now I was intrigued.
"Black," he answered.
I tried again. "Was it a lab?"
"Black," he answered stubbornly.
I got out of bed with visions of a forlorn puppy waiting at our back door. I got one of Brownie's bone-shaped dog treats and opened the door. I didn't see anything. I ventured out farther and looked around the yard.
"Here, puppy-puppy," I called gently. "Here puppy-puppy." Nothing.
Undaunted, I went to the front door. I looked out, but couldn't see anything in the dark. I turned on the porch light. That illuminated the empty porch. I turned off the light. Then I could see the front lawn. Nothing there. But wait! All of a sudden, a shadow appeared on the front porch. The puppy!
I was so happy to see it. By now, George was following me around, a little like a puppy himself. Seeing the puppy again, he seized the opportunity to take charge. He went out onto the porch with the intent of reading the tag on the dog's collar. He couldn't make it out. I could, but first I went to get a pencil and paper to write down the information. I looked at the tag.
"974-381" I read as I wrote.
"That's not a telephone number," George said.
"No, of course not," I answered. "That's the license number. All dogs in Montgomery County have one." Then I looked more closely at the tag. "Uh oh," I said.
"What's 'uh-oh'?" George asked warily.
"Knoxville," I answered.
"Tennessee," I said.
Realization dawned. We live in Maryland. This must be an abandoned puppy from Tennessee. Poor thing. What were we going to do with it? My mind started working: a companion for Brownie! I judged that she (I checked) was about two months old. She probably weighed 13 pounds but still had her puppy fur - so cute and fuzzy. Looking closely at her, I saw the dark brown markings of a Doberman.
I let go of the tag and gave the dog the bone I was carrying in my nightgown pocket. George thought the bone might be too big, but the little puppy demolished it and delightedly chewed on the crumbs. George and I sat there in our pjs watching her eat, wondering what to do next.
WHEN she was done, I decided to see how trained she was. I told her "sit," and she did. But then she tried to crawl in my lap! She was a powerful puppy with huge paws. She contented herself by sitting on my feet. She seemed quite at home.
The birds were chirping, but otherwise it was quiet. "Shhh," George said.
"It's just the birds," I said.
"No, I hear something," he said.
We were quiet. Then we saw some college-age kids way up the street.
"Hello!" George said. "Are you looking for a black puppy?" (Talk about grasping at straws! He was hoping anyone out for a walk was looking for a lost puppy?)
"Yes!" they shouted back.
"Are you from Tennessee?" George asked.
"Yes, University of Tennessee."
"Knoxville?" George asked.
I felt George was feeding them all the lines and not being cautious enough. But, after all, at 2 in the morning, maybe these really were college kids who had lost their dog and not some mean dog-nappers.
George went out to talk to the owners, who were visiting the area, and the little puppy bounded after him and was reunited.
"Oh, thank you soooo much," they said.
We turned off the porch light, closed the door, climbed the stairs, and went back to bed. I was happy that the little puppy had found its home, but maybe I was just a little sad, too.