Finding the right companion dog never occurred to me while living in a small town in Northern California where I had rented an old cabin on a five acre parcel of rural land. I had moved to this remote location following a bitter divorce battle that left me with barely anything I had previously owned. My closest neighbor, whom I still had not met, lived about two miles away.
Being a writer, I was used to long periods of solitude while working. This isolated location offered not only the tranquil setting I required in order to concentrate on my writing chores, but also provided a much-needed seclusion that occasionally became depressing. I wasn’t ready to re-enter the dating scene after 15 years of marriage, so I had moved to the boondocks to spend my time writing the great American novel. Unfortunately, that well-intentioned project had been put on hold when my divorce necessitated working at hack jobs just to pay alimony.
One day while hunched over my laptop writing a short article titled “Finding the Right Companion Dog” for one of the major dog magazines, I was struggling to come up with some perceptive and profound words to write about sharing your life with a loving pet. I happened to glance out the window and noticed a spotted, tired-looking old dog standing in my front yard.
He had wandered in from God knows where, and looked around my yard like he couldn’t figure out where he was. I took a bowl of fresh, cool water out and laid it in front of him. He drank thirstily and then looked up at me with wise, soulful eyes that had obviously seen a lot more of the world’s woes than I had.
He was wearing an old frayed collar but there were no dog tags or other identification attached to it. He wasn’t emaciated, and in fact looked very well-fed. I figured he must belong to someone, perhaps my only neighbor.
I turned to go back inside my cabin with the intention of going back to work and pounding out the rest of my article on “Finding the Right Companion Dog” which was already overdue. The dog followed me into the cabin, looked around my living room, and then trotted over to my sofa where he hopped up and promptly fell asleep.
A few hours later I saw him wake up, get down off the sofa and head for the door. I went over and let him out, silently thanking him for a few hours of his companionship.
The next afternoon I heard him scratching at the screen door so I opened it and let him in. He jumped up on the sofa, laid down, and slept for a good two hours. This routine continued for nearly two weeks and I began to enjoy his daily presence. I never felt as if he were an intruder, and began to accept him as a welcome companion.
One day my curiosity got the better of me. I needed to know who this dog was and where he lived. I hastily scribbled a note and taped it to his collar. The note read, “Every afternoon your dog comes to my cabin and announces his arrival by scratching at my door. I let him in and he hops up on my sofa and takes a long nap. I don’t mind his coming over; it helps with my writing and I really enjoy his companionship. I find that I almost count on him being here every day to spend time with me. I just wanted to be sure you knew where your dog was spending his afternoons and to assure myself that it’s okay with you.”
The next afternoon the old dog arrived like clockwork and I noticed he had a different note pinned to his collar. I removed the note and read, ” I suspect he’s just trying to catch up on his sleep. This old dog lives in a home with eight small children and four young puppies.”
“Is it possible that I could accompany him tomorrow? I need some sleep too.”