I saw the dog before she saw me. Nose to the ground, she was happily sniffing the newly-released scents of spring. When she raised her head and spotted me, she came bounding joyfully over as if I were a long-lost friend instead of someone she had never laid eyes on before.
She stood on her hind legs, front paws batting playfully at me and tail wagging while little squeals of delight came from her throat. She was a pretty thing. Her head was a velvety chocolate-brown, and from the neck down, her coat was spotted like an Appaloosa horse.
I petted her head and murmured, “Down, girl” while scanning the street for her owner. But no one was on the street or the front yards of the houses. I decided to keep walking, and she shot out ahead of me, a blur of fur, paws and flapping ears. She darted into a small, wooded lot between two houses and I thought, “Maybe she’s decided to go home.”
Before rounding the corner, I turned to see her come out of the woods. She stood stock still, looking up and down the street. When she saw me, she came to me at breakneck speed. After greeting me enthusiastically (again), she crossed the street just as a car came around the corner. I waved my arms wildly above my head to ask the driver to slow down. He did but looked at me as if to say, “Put your dog on a leash, crazy lady.”
“She’s not mine,” I wanted to say. But in that moment, I knew this dog was lost and had put her blind trust in me to keep her safe. This was faith in humans in its purest form and my heart swelled with gratitude. I doubted any person could have such unconditional belief in the goodness of a stranger.
I crouched down and called her over. When she came and tried to give me big wet kisses I grabbed her collar and held on tight. I couldn’t get her to stay still enough to read the phone number on her medal so I decided to head home where Ben could help. We started off and she walked willingly beside me.
As we rounded the corner, we met a young woman walking her own dog. The two animals made half-hearted, obligatory growling sounds as I asked her, “Do you know this dog’s owner?” She didn’t, but she lived a few houses down and offered to bring her own dog home and help me.
She came back with a leash and we did a dance as I held the collar at arm’s length and she tried to clip it on while staying six feet apart (thank you COVID), all with a dog who thought this was a game. Success! I pulled out my phone and she read the information on the medal to me.
“Her name is Alycia,” said the woman and then she rattled it off a phone number.
I made the call and within minutes, Alycia’s owner arrived, grateful to bring the dog home to her heartbroken kids. I waved as I watched them drive away and silently thanked Alycia for making my daily walk a lesson in believing in the goodness of people.