This story is for Peggy. She asked me to write about a lost puppy shivering in the cold.
“Will the snow ever end?” Tricia said to the wipers, swishing back and forth, laboring to keep the windshield clear. The main roads were passable with slushy, wet grooves dividing iced-over piles of dirty snow. Tricia turned onto her unplowed street and leaned forward to see the tracks in the snow. She did her best to follow them, white knuckling the last two blocks home.
Coming to her driveway, Tricia let out a big sigh! “Thank you Rodney,” she said blowing a kiss toward her neighbor’s house. Her driveway was clear. He must have plowed and salted, she thought. I’ll make him some molasses cookies, his favorite.
After a long day at work, Tricia was looking forward to putting on her warm, comfy sweats, heating up some leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and finishing the open bottle of Merlot.
Holding onto the handrail, she walked up the steps to her front porch. Three inches of new powder blanketed all but the path to her door. Dreaming of spring, Tricia looked wistfully at the porch swing. She noticed a small, white, fluffy dog taking cover underneath it, creating an indentation in the snow. If not for the brown eyes looking at her, she might not have noticed the dog at all.
“Where did you come from little one?” The dog barked in recognition and walked over to her. Tricia reached down to look for a tag. The dog moved toward the steps and nodded for Tricia to follow.
“I don’t know where you live, but you can come in and get warm till we sort it out.” She unlocked the door and set her purse and briefcase on the floor. Tricia looked longingly at the couch before she turned around to pick up the dog.
As she got close to it, the dog took off across the street. “That’s odd,” she said to herself. “Mrs. Kelly doesn’t have a dog.” Taking a deep breath and tightening the scarf around her neck to keep the snow from landing on her skin, Tricia followed the dog. It disappeared through the back door of the Kelly house.
Tricia walked around to the front door and rang the bell. The warm glow of the living room lights looked inviting. No one answered. She rang the bell again and knocked on the window. Silence.
Tricia reached into the mailbox for the key and unlocked the door. Half inside, she called out, “Hello. Mrs. Kelly. Are you home?”
The white dog was pacing between the front door and hallway, beaconing Tricia to the bedroom. Mrs. Kelly was slumped down in bed, barely breathing. Tricia called 911 and held Mrs. Kelly’s hand till the paramedics arrived. She followed the ambulance to the hospital, and sat with Mrs. Kelly in the emergency department while the hospital staff ran tests.
“When did you get a dog?” Tricia asked.
“I don’t have a dog, dear,” Mrs. Kelly said softly, her breathing labored.
“Your dog was waiting on my porch when I got home. She led me straight to your house. What is it, a Bichon Frise?”
Stopping often to take deep breaths, Mrs. Kelly told Tricia, “When we first got married, my husband and I had a Bichon Frise, Sammy. Cutest little dog. She was very protective of me. I spoiled her something awful. My husband said that if he were to come back in another life, he would want to be my dog. He would have my undivided attention and a very good life.”
“I saw the dog go in your house through the back door,” Tricia insisted.
“That’s not possible dear. I replaced that door years ago. There is no dog door in it anymore. I would like to have another dog, but there will never be another Sammy,” Mrs. Kelly said, nodding off from exhaustion.
Before returning home, Tricia made sure Mrs. Kelly was settled in a room for overnight observation. She walked across the street and used the key to go back in the Kelly house. There was no dog to be found; no dog dish; no dog toys; no dog bed. She checked the back door. No pet door.
Shaking her head, Tricia turned out the lights, locked the front door and put the key back in the mail box.
Standing on her front porch ready to go in for the night, Tricia found no paw prints and no spot carved out under the porch swing. There was no evidence of a dog having been there.
She looked out over Mrs. Kelly’s house to the starry winter sky. “Goodnight Mr. Kelly. Your sweetheart is safe and getting the care she needs.”