November 26, 2009


The dog's fur was almost exactly the same shade of brown as the endless fallen leaves that blanket the earth behind the Princeton Friends Schoolhouse.

After our shared time in worship in the Quaker Meetinghouse, the adults usually migrate to the First Day School for some refreshments and fellowship. A group of the elementary school-aged children have taken to grabbing a cookie and then heading into the woods for a different sort of fellowship. K usually finds at least one salamander. Our own Mr. D likes to try to figure out what kinds of trees are in that patch of woods. And last Sunday, young E suddenly called out, "It's a DOG!"

The other boys came running, wanting to believe, but not knowing if they should. But sure enough, E was absolutely right. There, lying on the cold ground, was a dog, perfectly blended in and still except for a pronounced shiver.

"He's hurt!" yelled one of the boys, at which point they all began calling for their parents. We gathered in a little worried knot, trying to figure out how a pet could have ended up so far from any home. "He's cold," said one boy. "We should get some blankets."

"I'm going to go get some apples in case it's hungry!" yelled Mr. D over his shoulder as he dashed for the First Day School building.

The boys industriously plied the animal with apples, water, graham crackers, and goldfish crackers. The dog drank eagerly and ate obligingly. It ears perked up a bit, but it did not try to stand. One of the legs we could see looked like it had some kind of growth or injury. The tag on the dog's collar included its registration number with the Township police. The adults called the police, got some blankets, and made plans to take the dog to the animal shelter if neither its owner nor the animal control officers could be reached on a Sunday afternoon. But it was the boys who tended to the immediate needs of their discovered dog.

When the van from SAVE pulled up, the staff person gently cradled the dog in his arms and carried her away. The boys trailed along behind, not quite ready to relinquish their protective role.

The next morning, I called SAVE to find out if they'd been able to reach the owner. "Oh, yes," they said, "she came first thing this morning and was SO thankful to get her dog back. She was crying with happiness. The dog is fifteen years old, has cancer, and is probably near the end of her life. She may even have left home in search of a quiet corner to die, but the owner is so grateful to be able to be with her for whatever time she has left."

So much to be thankful for.

(And a special Happy Birthday
to my dear friend K,
who is the mother of two of these
kind-hearted boys.)


JAXTER said...

brings tears to my eyes - so much to be thankful for. and many thanks to you for all that you do

Comet's mom said...

Whoa. What a lucky dog.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story, so engagingly told.