A fictional story for the season: Lost dog, found Christmas

Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:29 AM

Editor's note: This is a story D.G. Martin wrote a few years ago that he would like to share during the holiday season.

Although he had pushed for her to spend a few days with him at Christmas time, he could not say he was happy that she was coming.

Maybe, though, this little girl could turn things around for him.

Nothing else this season had lifted him from the bleak, cold, dark loneliness that had surrounded his life like the heavy overbearing fog of a sick room since … well, since everything her mother had turned south.

These were his thoughts as he drove through the early darkness with the little girl in the front seat beside him.

“Daddy, stop! Watch out for that poor dog.”

He had seen the dark shadow loping, moving into the road and thought “Surely, it won’t be stupid enough to walk right into my path.”

Until the little girl had spoken up, he had not intended to slow down.

Now, with the car stopped and the dog standing still in the middle of the road, the little girl bolted. Wrapping her arms around the animal, she called out, “Daddy, we can’t just leave him out here. He’s lost and he’s hungry and he’s going to die if we don’t help him.”

“Okay, put him in the car,” he winced, thinking, “I’ll call the animal control shelter as soon as I get these two back to the house.”

At his house, the little girl filled bowls with water and cereal. While the dog ate and drank, she sat down on the floor began to pet and stroke it.

“Thank you for calling animal control,” the recording said, “our office hours are…”

Looking up from the telephone, he noticed that the dog had moved into the little girl’s lap and she was smiling for the first time that day.

He kneeled beside them and touched her shoulder. And when the dog’s nose found his other hand, he, too, smiled a real smile for the first time in a long time.

The three sat there together, silent, peaceful, happy.

A little while later, the little girl wrinkled her forehead and asked him, “What if its real owner is missing it? What should we do?”

“Maybe, we can help it find a way to get back home,” the man said.

Back in the car, with the three of them in the front seat together, he drove to where they had found the dog and parked. He took the dog to the sidewalk and the little girl rushed out to give it a long hug that was finally interrupted by the man’s calling to her, “Come back in the car and watch.”

The dog ambled across the street again.

“Daddy, it’s going to get hurt.”

But the dog crossed safely and lumbered along toward downtown. The man and little girl followed, watching the dog cross another busy street, pick up the pace, past one house and then suddenly dash into the backyard of another house.

“We’d better ask before we go into that back yard,” the man said.

They walked on to the porch and were surrounded by decorations and blinking lights. He knocked on the door. A cheerful old man appeared at the door and said, “Merry Christmas to the two of you. Come inside.”

The little girl said, “We are looking for a dog that got lost and we think it is in your back yard. Can we go look for it?”

“There is no dog here except ours. I think I heard him come in from the back,” the old man laughed. “But you are welcome to look.”

Just then, the dog came running into the hall and jumped up on the old man. Yes, it was the same dog, and it quickly came over to the little girl and gave her a warm look.

“Come on into the back yard and see if your dog is there,” the old man invited.

“No thanks,” the little girl said. “I think we found what we were looking for.”

As they walked back toward the car, she said, “Oh daddy, you’re good. Thank you. We got that wonderful dog back to its home.”

He grabbed her hand and thought, “No, it found its own way. And if that dog can make its way back to where it belongs at Christmas, then, just maybe, so can we.”

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.