Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Friday, July 31, 2020

7/31/20 RMB Friendly Stray

7/31/20 RMB Friendly Stray 

Dear Rita Mae Brown,
As I approached a stop sign at the end of my block, a woman waived at me. I slowed my car to avoid a dog in the road, a tubby bulldog mix. At first, I thought she was trying to call him home. We both asked at the same time, “Is he yours?”

I told her no, he was not mine. But as soon as I rolled down the window he jumped up and panted in my face, with a telltale wiggle that implied a there was a tail wagging with abandon at the other end.

I don’t know if she heard me or not. Maybe she saw the dog’s reaction and figured he was my problem now, either way.

I’m not one to get friendly with strange dogs, especially muscular husky ones with giant teeth and big mouths. I told him to get down and he did so quickly, proceeding to travel in a circle around my car looking for an entrance.

I didn’t want to move forward because I could no longer see his stout body and didn’t want to hit the fellow. I put the car in park and got out to contemplate what to do. He came running. Reluctantly, I opened the back door and up he soared without a second thought. At least that got him out of the street.

As he sat there in all his splendor, so proud if himself for getting in the car and up on the backseat with head held high, I examined his chain linked collar. No tags. He was obviously trusting and kind.

I got in the front seat and in a flash that big mouth was panting beside my head. He had hopped his front feet to the console between the two front seats and was ready to watch the road with me.

I nudged with my elbow to push him back, afraid his plan might be to jump into the front passenger seat where my sister’s take out meal sat. “You can’t get up here.” Push. “Get back there.” Push.

Neither push budged the friendly beast an inch. I slowly took the right turn, keeping my arm there as a meager blockade. When I got to my driveway, I called the sister. I figured she could bring me a spare leash and take her food out of harms way. I planned to travel around a few blocks and hopefully find his home.

Another car drove by before I could finish the explanation and the sister was left hanging on half a story while I waived down the car. It passed me, but then slowed and the shiny white car with tinted windows backed up.

I asked, “Do you live around here?”

The nice man replied “No”.

In a sad face, I said “Oh,” and figured it couldn’t hurt to ask, “would you happen to know who this dog belongs to?”

“What dog?” he said and leaned over to see when I motioned to the back seat. “No, I don’t know.”

I explained how he had gotten into my car a few houses up the block. And when I say up, I mean up. I live on a very steep street.

He said “Sorry” shrugged and carried on up the street.

I continued my story with the now curious sister on the cell phone as I sat there parked in front of my own driveway.

The white car rounded the corner again and made its way back up to me after driving around the block. The nice man pulled over next to me and said, “They’re looking for him up there. I told them to come down here. It will take a while for them to get here.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank you so much! I’ll wait for them.” He smiled a big smile and as he drove, away I yelled after him, “God bless!”

A rag tag crew of young men found their way down the hill to me. At first, I was a little reluctant to hand my happy friend over to just anyone, but he obviously knew them as they approached. “Missing something?” I asked and one of them nodded. I figured that if they were the owners of him, they must be doing something right, because he was so friendly.

There was someone in a Jeep with them and he offered to take the guy and the dog in his car. Maybe he was just a passer by offering to help. The guy declined and leaned over to walk the dog by holding his collar. I hoped he didn’t have far to go.

We caused a bottleneck in traffic with my car and the Jeep that was in the middle of the road and another car parked on the other side. A few cars were waiting to pass so no more words were said. The Jeep moved along.

As the cars passed, there came that nice shiny white car with tinted windows. The man smiled at me and this time as he passed, he was the one that yelled out “God bless.” We both laughed.

Together we did a good deed. But something else happened too. See, I’m white and the man with the big smile in the shiny white car is black. It felt like there was an added element of our working together on this minor mission.

At first, I thought he came around the third time just to be sure they found me and their dog. Later, I wondered if it was so he could respond in kind with “God bless” to me.

As people protest and shout and demonstrate the vital importance that Black Lives Matter, something tells me it is equally important for us all to do the little things, to help each other, to reach out in a neighborly way.

Neither one of us did it to prove a point, but everything we do, every day, proves a point. There was something unspoken within us that recognized the importance of our joint effort. God bless.

For whatever God or Goodness you worship, God bless,