The Rarest of Seasons
He showed up at the screened door of the back porch one humid midnight many years ago. Jenn and I were drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and doing what we always did—talking about everything in a general, trackless sort of way. I probably jumped a foot clear out of my seat when I noticed the darker blotch of shadow, with a gleam of eyes, standing very quietly, there. At first, I thought he was a coyote. We’d had problems with them in the past, and everyone with a small dog was advised to keep a close eye out for these interlopers. On spring nights, you could sit out and hear them sing, older voices joined by those as yet unschooled, with their puppyish enthusiasm.
With this in mind, I shooed him away with a shout. Then, my brain registered that the large, hairy black dog was nothing like a coyote. He returned a few moments later, beaming a plea for snacks so strong that neither Jenn nor I had the heart to resist. As we fed him, I tried to gauge how old he was, and if he had simply gotten lost or if he had been abandoned. The thick black fur of his body was matted and unkempt, but around his neck was a bandana—the sort grooming salons adorned their charges with before sending them home. Someone had loved this dog until relatively recently.
Not a Teenager, But a Gentleman
Because it was dark, I mistook his lean frame for the gangliness of youth. He moved strangely, and because I’d no experience with elderly dogs, I thought it was the clumsiness of youth, not age. We left him with a bowl of kibble and one of water on the deck and called it a night. I thought he would wander on once he was sated, content to point his nose into the wind. But the next morning, there he was again at the screen door.
The earnest patience of his expression quickly eroded my resolve to have nothing to do with the unusual stray. He seemed so refined, so gentle and dignified. Surely, someone must be missing him, I thought. Jenn and I searched for Lost Dog signs in the area. We called shelters, both to see if anyone had reported him missing and to find a no-kill shelter in the event we couldn’t locate his family. We posted online and combed through forums, all to no avail. Even with humane shelters, we knew that his odds would not be good.
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