His Master’s Call
“Who does that chocolate lab belong to?” I asked Rich as I returned, that summer a few years ago, from a Saturday’s trip to San Diego. I sat on the rocker on our front deck, where I’d plunked myself upon my arrival. He stood in the front yard, hose in hand, washing the brick on the planter.
“I dunno. He’s been wandering around the neighborhood for a while now.”
“Just now, when I drove down the hill, he made eye contact with me. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say about a dog, but he–“
I stopped short as the chocolate lab trotted down our driveway, onto our deck, and plopped down beside me. I looked at Rich, astonished.
“He must be lost,” I said, “if he’s been roaming the street all day. I’ll bet he’s thirsty.” Rich was two steps ahead of me, handing me one of our dogs’ water bowls. I set it before the visiting beast and he lapped greedily at the water.
“He’s got a collar and tag,” Rich pointed out before I had a chance to mention that the dog had, after all, followed me home . . .
Examination yielded a name, Buddy, and a telephone number. Rich called the number on Buddy’s tag. “It’s an answering machine,” he mouthed to me. I listened as my husband recorded a message, providing our address and phone number.
“If we don’t hear from you by ten, we’ll keep him overnight,” Rich spoke into the phone. He repeated our phone number, then hung up.
Our own Labrador, JD, pawed frantically at the door from inside the house. A friendly, happy dog, we expected him to welcome Buddy.
We were wrong. When we brought Buddy inside, JD’s hackles stood as he growled at the intruder.
“Well, this complicates things,” Rich sighed. He opened the gate and led Buddy into the yard.
We don’t leave dogs in our yard overnight in our coyote-rich neighborhood, so as dusk gathered, Rich brought Buddy up through the garage onto our back deck. JD spent a moment blustering at the sliding door, then relaxed and curled up at Rich’s feet, apparently satisfied that Buddy, relegated to the deck, had not usurped him. Our second dog, Doc, was unfazed by Buddy’s presence.
We waited until 10:15 to retire for the evening. Then we checked Buddy’s water supply, set out an old blanket for him to curl up on, and led our own pack upstairs to turn in for the night.
Twenty minutes later, Buddy’s frantic barking woke us. “Funny,” Rich said. “That’s the first sound he’s made all evening. I’ll go down and check on him.”
My husband padded back into our room a few minutes later. “A car was driving up the street, but other than that–nothing,” he reported. “But Buddy was really going nuts, barking and digging at the door with his paws. I put him in the garage for the night to muffle the sound.” But by then, Buddy was quiet again. We all went back to sleep.
In the morning, Rich fed our dogs, then let them into the yard. He brought Buddy into the house; as he had the day before on the deck, the dog sat down close beside me. “Ladies’ man,” I laughed.
Promptly at 7 a.m. the dogs announced a visitor. A woman stood at our front door; Buddy’s ecstatic greeting told us his “mom” had come for him. She thanked us for keeping him overnight. “We had several messages from your neighbors,” she said. “I think three other people fed him before he got to your house.” We all laughed.
“We got home just after 10,” she continued, “and we didn’t want to disturb you so late. My husband’s trained him to a silent whistle, so he drove over about 10:30 and drove down your street, whistling for Buddy, but he couldn’t find him.” She thanked us again and took Buddy home.
“Isn’t that something,” Rich said, after they had left. “Buddy just cruised along, accepting whatever good things he was offered, calm as could be until his dad called for him.”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “But what a ruckus he raised trying to get to his dad!”
We shook our heads and returned to our coffee.
4 I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain.
5 I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
Psalm 3:4-5 (NASB)
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