Two days before Christmas of last year I received a call from my friend, fellow realtor and neighbor, Kelly, asking for my help. Kelly had sold one of her listings and the sellers had moved away. Earlier that day, she had been at the now vacant house overseeing some repair work that the buyers required before closing, only to discover that the sellers had moved away and abandoned their dog. After trying, without success, to convince one of the workers to take the dog home, she loaded up the orphan and took him home with her. Now Kelly and her husband already had 2 dogs and 2 cats at home, so I chided her about bringing in another dog, but she is way too tenderhearted when it comes to rescuing animals (Her husband, a pilot, even volunteers to fly rescue dogs across the country to their new homes!). The problem was, Kelly and her husband were driving up to Oklahoma on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas with family, and although they were taking their two dogs, Chewy and Rufus (cute, cute, cute Brussels Griffons, you know the "As Good As It Gets" dog that stole Jack Nicholson's heart) with them, there was no way they could risk taking a strange dog as well. She asked if I would check on the dog and feed him for the 3 days they would be gone. I said sure and went over to her house to meet the dog before they left town.
Upon arriving at Kelly's house I was greeted by a friendly, black and white, mix breed of a "yard dog" if there ever was one! He was obviously a good dog, but pretty skinny and so dirty his white fur was a dull gray color, and he was a little all over the place, the way dogs in a new enviornment are. Not knowing what his original name was, they had decided to call him Dexter, because, well, he looked like a Dexter. Kelly assured me he would be fine staying in the backyard until they returned and showed me where she kept the dog food. The next day, Christmas Eve, Kelly and her husband, Garrad, took off for Oklahoma. I wasn't due to check in on Mr. Dexter until the next morning.
In the middle of the night, I was awakened by the noise of howling wind and rain outside. A big old cold front had blown into San Antonio and temperatures had dropped down into the 30's. I couldn't sleep another wink the rest of the night, worried about poor Dexter stuck out in the cold and wet. Even though I knew Kelly had prepared a dog house for him to sleep in, I couldn't wait for the sun to come up so I could rush right over there. When I got to the house, I ran to the back door calling and calling for Dexter. I didn't see him anywhere and the dog house, which I was glad to see was nice and dry inside, was empty. Oh crap! I just knew that storm had spooked poor Dexter to jump the fence and I had lost him! Then, thank God, he suddenly came running around the corner of the house...tail wagging and clearly none the worse for wear. I didn't care how dirty or flea covered that dog was, I hugged and kissed him like a long lost brother! Well, suffice it to say, Dexter and I made it through Christmas. When Kelly and Garrad came home they made Dexter a permanent member of the family.
Well, just a few days ago, Kelly called to ask if I could watch the dogs and the cat for a few days while she and Garrad went down to Mexico on a family holiday trip. I was happy to help and I even drove them to the airport yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon, around 4:30, I jumped in the car and scooted over to their house to feed the animals and spend a little time with them. When I walked in the door, Chewy and Rufus, barked and barked then, looking past me to the door, seemed a little let down that Kelly and Garrad were not right behind me. Frankie, the cat, wandered into the room, also a little let down that it was just me. Then Dexter came bounding in, tail wagging and pushing his head up under my hand as if to say "Why Hello my old friend". I couldn't help think about the Dexter of just one year ago...this dog's coat was clean and soft, fresh from the groomer, he was practically shiny and, well, a bit fat! In fact, I think we both had put on a few pounds since last year. When I had sufficiently scratched him behind the ears he turned and streaked back through the dog door (take a note Dixie, if you're reading this) to run circles in HIS backyard. I hung out for about an hour and half, tossing toys to the Brussels and petting the cat, with Dexter running in and out to check on me. Once everyone settled down, I washed my dish (thanks for the great tamales, Kelly), turned out the lights I had turned on, and counted furry heads to make sure everyone was accounted for. Chewy and Rufus were snuggled together on one end of the sofa, the cat was perched on the back of the sofa at the other end, but I didn't see Dexter. I walked back to the master bedroom and there I found him, curled up asleep, smack in the middle of Kelly's king-size bed, snoring the way only fat, happy dogs can. I tell you it was a picture that could knock the Bah right out of your Humbug. I didn't move past the door, I just whispered, "Good night Christmas Dog", and mosied on home.
Happy Holidays, Ya'll!
Post Script... Dexter is still "living the life" with Kelly and Garrad.