It was a Thursday morning when I opened the door and saw a scruffy, bedraggled and weather-beaten dog looking at me with pleading eyes from across the deck.
“Hi, little fella,” I said to him, and then watched as his tail wagged, but his body remained still.
We had no dogs of our own, nor did we want any. Retirement opened the doors of opportunity for my husband, Lew, and me to come and go – and even travel – without concern for anything but a few plants. And we knew that a dog would certainly interfere with our independence.
On this July 2009 weekend, Lew and I happened to be dog-sitting our son’s three dogs, and the early sun was already hot. Having already met the immediate needs of the granddogs, I offered the stray dog a biscuit, which he hungrily took and ate. Next I got him a bowl of water, and then I went inside.
Occasionally I would look out the door, and the dirty dog was still there. Finally, I went to the freezer and pulled out a beef bone I’d saved for my son’s dogs. Since there was only one bone and three dogs on this visit, I gave the bone to the stray, who loved it.
For the rest of the day, the little stray stayed mostly on the front deck, occasionally checking out my son’s dogs. The four of them got acquainted and seemed to get along just fine.
As evening began setting in, the stray was still on the deck. Feeling sorry for the poor dog, Lew found an unused dog carrier. I put an old towel inside it for a little cushion, and we set it on the front deck.
Food, water and shelter had been given to this stray. He wasn’t our dog, and no more would be done for him.
Twenty-four hours later, the stray dog’s carrier was placed in the kitchen with the other dog carriers. The stray was hesitantly willing to come indoors, and he slowly settled in. But he was not our dog! He had an owner somewhere.
I called the local newspaper and placed an ad for the lost dog, whom Lew had began calling Cuddles. Needless to say, Cuddles had already begun working his way into our hearts, and even more so after our son’s dogs went home, and Cuddles became our top priority.
Several days later, we received a phone call from Cuddles’ owners. We should have been happy that our little stray’s owners had been found, but it was bittersweet for us because we were losing our Cuddles.
When the owners arrived, it was apparent that Cuddles knew them. As they called for him to go with them, he slowly obeyed, then stopped, turned around and ran back to Lew to say a final goodbye. Our tears flowed as Cuddles got into the car and a moment later was gone.
Twist of confusion
A number of hours after Cuddles’ owners left, they called us. It seems they were not the owners after all. Their parents were. But they were vacationing in Bermuda, and told their children to ask us if we wanted to adopt the dog. Come to find out, Cuddles wasn’t their dog either. The stray’s owners had died, and nobody wanted Cuddles.
The vacationing parents were relatives of the deceased owners, and had taken in Cuddles, but they had two other dogs and didn’t really want a third.
A new, loving home
A couple of weeks later, Lew and I drove to Cuddles’ “owners” house to accept the dog that had already accepted us.
“Cuddles,” I called out as I got out of the car. He ran to the car, jumped in and didn’t look back.
Cuddles has a fear of thunder, and during a storm, he dug his way out and somehow arrived at our house. He passed other houses, but kept going until he found ours, and we thank God every day for that.
Turns out Cuddles found and adopted the very couple that didn’t think they wanted a dog. Now we’re a very happy family: Mommy, Daddy and Cuddles.
Beaver Dams, New York