Many of us grieve silently for years for pets that disappear. We never stop looking, wondering, asking what happened, where is he?
He's right here with me, watching me type this note to you.
I don't know you, but I know some things about you. You carefully housebroke your dog, taught him not to get on furniture and not to beg, or at least not to be too obnoxious about it. You trained him to walk on a leash and probably kept him on pavement. You might have jogged with him and might have had a young child and a cat, because this dog seems to like all those things. And you taught him to offer his paw for shaking. Or did he come up with that on his own, like his funny little snicker face and Scooby-Doo groan?
You didn't neuter or microchip him. You either didn't give him a collar and tag or he slipped it off (he's good at that).
You also didn't look for him at the Wake County Animal Shelter during the five miserably hot weeks he waited for you to come. That was two summers ago.
Who wants to adopt a sad, flea-ridden, long-haired white dog? After five weeks, your dog was heading to Death Row.
That paw-shaking trick saved him.
I told myself I wasn't going to get another dog after my first died of old age, but I was surprised to realize I was dog-lonely. I needed a dog.
But I had to find a dog that would pick me. My first (and only) dog, a stray, had picked me, and that worked out so well. It turns out that shelter dogs aren't much concerned about who you are, just about getting out. But that wasn't good enough for me. Somehow a dog was going to have to convince me that he wanted to be my dog. I looked on and off for months, with no luck.
Then... there was that paw.
That paw that shot out every time I passed. That paw, offered with a shy sideways glance that said he was too afraid to look, love, and be passed over yet again. That paw, with a gentle nuzzle that said, "I'm as sad as you about losing my loved one." That paw that said, I choose you.
My daughter wasn't impressed. That long white fur would be a pain. And look how he ignores everyone but me.
I had found my dog!
Still, it took him a long time to get over you, his first family. I told him I knew how he felt. Slowly, we both got over our losses and became a family.
He goes by Lenny or Buddy or a dozen variants. He has his own chair. And lots of dog treats. He loves his daily walks behind the art museum. He's still afraid of thunder but doesn't leap in my lap anymore.
Sometimes, he wonders about you.
He wants you to know he's OK, not to worry.