Okay y’all. I’m not gonna lie. The past few days have been rough. My sweet girl Lucy passed away this past Sunday. I had this amazing dog for 15 years. FIFTEEN years. To put that into perspective, I have 16 and 18 year old kids. I have had this dog about as long as my children. I will be writing a tribute piece to my Lucy Goosey, but I am not quite ready for that. I still suddenly start crying out of nowhere – and not just tear up, graceful tears, but UGLY crying sobs out of nowhere. I need a bit more time before I write that. So, in the meantime, lemme tell you about PIGGY PIE.
It was a humid, steamy summer evening on August 2, 2014. The sun was far from setting and still easily 90 degrees out, but the sun was low enough in the sky that I could bear the heat. I’ve always loved to run in the heat, but not the sun. Evening runs had become delicious to me again after I decided to challenge myself to run as many days in July as I could. It worked. I now craved an evening run as much as I craved a good glass of wine at the end of a busy day. Success!
It also helped that I had found a park near my house that I had never known about before. It had lots of long loops and was perfect for running.
But it had not been a busy day. It was a leisurely Saturday. My husband was on his drill weekend two hours away in Augusta and my daughter had her best friend sleeping over for the third day in a row – one teenage girl helping another get through a break-up with lots of Netflix, ice cream and Ramen noodles.
I told them I was going for a run and left them on the couch with Teen Wolf. Or Supernatural. Or maybe even Sponge Bob – who can tell with teens these days.
I got to the park and planned on a long run. Maybe 4 miles if all felt right. As I simultaneously walked towards the path, set up Bon Jovi to play, put in my ear buds and got my running app open, I glanced up. Two men were walking towards me laughing, talking and holding frisbees. A medium sized and very happy black and white dog was trotting beside them just smiling away. The dog made me smile right back. We all exchanged cheery hellos as I walked to the running path and they to the parking lot.
I had a good run. A great run actually. The kind of run that makes you appreciate being alive. The lungs were working right, the legs felt light and I was able to just think and be in the moment. I ran for 4 miles with endorphins in high gear when I stopped. By the end of my run, the sun was almost setting and I was sweaty and satisfied. I took out my ear buds and began walking to my car.
That’s when I saw him. The same happy black and white dog I’d passed at the start of my run. He ran right up to me and gently jumped up, his paws against me. I looked around for the two men I had seen as I patted the very friendly dog’s head. I was confused – where had his owners gone? It only took me a minute to replay the scene of them walking towards me to recall the dog had not been on a leash. And it was 45 minutes later. He was not their dog. I looked around. At almost 7pm, there were no other cars in the parking lot except a police car at the far end. (I figured at some point he would get out and tell me what he knew. He never did.)
The dog had a collar, but no tags. I figured I should wait for an owner who would surely be calling his dog any minute now. I was hot and sweaty – and boy did that dog look hot too. I asked him if he wanted some water. He cocked his head and smiled and I swear he knew exactly what I was saying. As I opened my car door to get my water bottle, he jumped in. Not kind of jumped in, not sort of jumped in. That dog sprang into my car like he owned the darn thing – like he BELONGED. He sat panting and smiling with a look that said, “Okay! Let’s go!”
I went door to door opening each one to coax the dog out. The left door, the right door, the hatch back. With each open door he gracefully jumped from seat to seat clearly letting me know he was NOT getting out of the car.
I looked over at the police car knowing he had seen this musical dog-chair routine. But the officer was not getting out of his car. I looked around for anyone that might be looking for this dog. After about 15 minutes of waiting, this dog was not starting to snooze in my car. I gave up. I knew I was taking him home. Or at least to Pet Smart.
With minutes to spare before they closed, I had him scanned for a microchip. I found out he had no microchip, but luckily for me he had a terrible case of fleas. Awesome.
I took him home and set up a crate in the basement. I had three dogs upstairs and besides not knowing how they would all get along, I didn’t want my own personal flea infestation.
Very quickly it became clear that this was a good dog. I mean a GOOD dog. You could see it by the way he listened to me, you could see it by how he watched me, you could see it by the look in his eyes. I just knew. Dogs like this don’t come around every day. He was special. But with three of my own, there was NO WAY I was keeping him. Just not going to happen.
I knew this dog was scared and I couldn’t leave him in my basement overnight. Which meant a terrible thing for me. You see, my basement is scary. It is unfinished and is home to lots of creepy crawlies. I do not like creepy crawlies. I did not want to sleep with creepy crawlies. Especially creepy crawlies that might crawl into my ear while I sleep. (Insert silent scream here.)
But. This dog needed me.
I blew up an air mattress, brought down blankets and pillows and laid next to the crate. Within minutes, the dog was snoring. And i mean SNORING. And grunting. Like a pig. He really, really sounded like a pig. I jokingly began calling him Piggy. After all, I’d only have a him another day until I found his owner, who cared what I called him?
I didn’t have to worry about falling asleep and creepy crawlies though. The air mattress had a slow leak, so every hour and a half I found myself laying very uncomfortably on cement again. So I was pretty much awake the whole time. I could flick the creepy crawlies away. Yes. I just wrote that. It was kind of awful. Good thing I loved dogs.
The next day I took this dog to be properly vetted. He got flea treatments, shots and tests. Except for not being fixed, he was in great health and estimated to be about a year and a half or two years old. (Seriously PEOPLE! Fix your pets!!)
I began calling him Piggy. What a ridiculous name, right?
I tried very hard to find this dog’s owner. I posted flyers online. I posted flyers in the park. I registered him on a national data base of lost and found dogs.
When that didn’t work, I tried to find someone who wanted what I know realized was quite possibly the WORLD’S MOST AWESOME DOG. When that didn’t work, I found him a foster home for a week while I went out of town.
I have to admit something here. While I was out of town, I missed that darn dog. I secretly hoped that his foster family would not want him (which was the plan in the beginning). When I emailed to find out how Piggy was doing while I was on my trip, I was secretly elated that they asked when would be a good time to get him back to me.
I kept the information that I really wanted to keep this dog a secret from my husband who had been enthusiastically promised that I would FIND PIGGY A HOME. Because HECK, NO were we keeping a fourth dog! That would be CRAZY. Duh. I KNOW THAT.
And my husband told me over and over again, DO NOT FALL FOR THAT DOG, MICHELLE. We both know we cannot keep him.
I promised him I wouldn’t. That would be CRAZY.
Check back for Part 2. :)