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Township Roads: The mystery dog

Fri, Jan 10th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

A new dog has come to live with us. We think she is a Jack Russell terrier, but were not sure if that brand of terrier has light gray spots like this one has. Her pedigree doesnt seem to matter to her and it doesnt matter to us. She is just a little dog, maybe fifteen pounds, not much bigger than most of our half-dozen or so champion crossbred barn cats.

The new dogs name is Mystery. We met Mystery last summer when our neighbor started a job as an over-the-road trucker. He asked our boys if they would stop in and take care of Mystery while he was driving for a few days. That worked out. The next time he was gone for ten days. The time after that he was gone for eighteen days.

One cold day this fall I went over to the neighbors to care for Mystery. I found her laying on his front steps, pathetically waiting for some human, any human, to come out and be with her. The next time I talked to our neighbor I asked him if Mystery could come live with us while he was gone. That was all right with him, so thats how we became a foster dog-family. Or, is it a dog foster family?

I forgot to ask why Mystery was named Mystery. I am guessing that there may have been some mysterious circumstances surrounding her coming to live at the neighbors. I think it is a fitting name although it is hard to put much emphasis in it when it comes time to call the dog. A name beginning with an "R" or "K" or "D" seems to demand more attention from a dog when it is yelled from the barn door. Yelling is usually unnecessary with Mystery. On the contrary, she is almost constantly underfoot. When she came to live with us, she had no collar or tags. Id go outside to find her and the next thing I knew Id be stepping on her. I found an old dog collar for her with a tag that jingles when she moves so I can avoid stomping her into the dirt.

About the only time I have had to yell at Mystery is when she chases cats. Im sure it is the terrier trait to stalk and pursue any animal that moves. Our smartest, biggest and tamest tomcat knows that he doesnt have to run, so he usually stands his ground. Once in a while he forgets that this is a very small dog. On these occasions I have seen him two-thirds of the way up the light pole. He acts a bit sheepish hanging there by his claws. Mystery sits at the bottom of the pole, looking skyward proudly as if she had just treed a saber-toothed tiger. After a few minutes of gloating, Mystery leaves to find a warm spot to stand the next watch of cat guard duty.

Mystery is cute, but we had to criticize her for smelling like a dog. She was eager to get into the house for the first time so we took advantage of her curious nature. We invited her in for a visit and threw in a bath besides. She seemed to enjoy the bath, but she particularly enjoyed when she got to stay in the house and watch a movie with us while she dried. It might have been her first bath and her first experience with television. We dont know for sure, but she adapted to both very quickly.

Today, my wife has Mystery on her lap in the rocking chair as we sit in front of the fireplace. The look in Mysterys eyes indicate that she feels about as close to dog heaven as she has been in a long time. Kacie, our eighty-pound Dalmatian who would very much like to be a lap dog, is laying at our feet, her spots turning green with envy. She would eat Mystery if she could arrange it, just out of spite.

It is interesting how a pet can cleverly work its way into a family. It is almost as if she knows what she is doing to win our approval by being as cute and lovable as she can be. It wont be the same around here when her owner comes back for her.

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