After spending the third relatively sleepless night worrying about useless things, I set off yesterday afternoon with a strategic plan to complete a list of errands. Fortunately, the rain which had been pelting for hours cooperated, by momentarily slowing itself to a gentler cadence. I was happily humming along as I made my way up Wethersfield Road, which has become a huge cut-through to Route 9.
A few hundred feet ahead I spotted an erratic flow to the traffic caused by a golden retriever chasing the fast-moving vehicles. If one slowed, she jumped up on her hind legs trying to get a look inside, before moving quickly on to the next. A few lingered with curiosity, others sped up to outrun her. There was no sign that she recognized her surroundings, or of anyone who might have become separated from her. Glancing with impatience at my list on the seat, I pulled over.
The dog ran back and forth across the street, then circled back around towards me. When I moved closer she gave a low growl, but it sounded desperate as opposed to angry. Seeing that her hind quarters were shaking I stood very still, silently praying to the cars that roared by the frantic dog, without adjusting their speed. Several of the drivers shot angry looks in my direction, as she continued in this ping-pong fashion from one side of the road to the other. With each repetition of the pattern she inched a bit closer until, on a pass-by she gave my pant leg a little brush. On the next she licked my hand. Finally, she jogged once around my car, then parked herself next to my leg. She was not wearing a tag, but looked well fed and cared for. Judging by her level of panic, I thought perhaps she slipped her collar and bolted from home, possibly in response to the storm.
Her coat was the color of amber honey, and even soaking wet she was a beauty. Looking into her shiny eyes, I recognized a kind of pleading and experienced a sudden rush of love. It was a bit like being in a room with an open window and a closed-door that suddenly creates a vacuum sucking the door into the room with a ‘whoosh’. She then placed both front paws on my torso. Not knowing what to do, but seeing it as some kind of sign, I opened the back door to my car. The dog jumped in without a second thought. To be certain, I left the door open for a few minutes, my new friend responded by moving into the driver’s seat.
I remembered being a new comer to life in the wilds of British Columbia. At the time, my now ancient beagle was six months old, and had gotten lost for the better part of a morning. Recognizing something familiar in the divine being sitting regally in my car, I immediately experienced the same gush of warm tears, that had appeared when a woman three farms over tracked me down, then showed up at the door with my Molly girl.
I was still standing in the rain considering our options when a second angel appeared. A kind woman driving a black crossover looped back around to offer assistance. She tried to call animal control but kept getting a voicemail, before suggesting someone named Kim at Especially for Pet’s may be able to help. Her simple statement that the dog in question had clearly made a choice, caused a further slowing of time and deepening sense of calm. We laughed at the sight of her watching us both, as if to say, “Come on, let’s go. Get on with it”.
I shrugged my shoulders and drove back towards home. The next angel, Jamie Denver, was waiting for someone in his driveway but put aside his umbrella anyway, long enough to help me with the sweet dear soul who had jumped out of the car and was once again cruising back and forth across the street, although with somewhat less conviction than before. While I coaxed her into Erin’s fenced yard, he ran to get some dog treats before continuing on his way. Each time I tried to leave the yard to go next door for my phone, she became distressed. The first time she slid under the bottom of the gate. The second time having placed a box of Lego’s in the space to keep her from going under, she used them as a platform to bolt over the top.
I sensed her panic had subsided though, and was now replaced with a combination of her strong will and sense of adventure. She won. We were both soaked and I swear she was laughing as we got back in the car to search for Kim. Now the wet, smelly, panting dog was soaking my arm with a combination of rain water and drool, yet somehow, it felt oddly like holy water. As we pulled into the store parking lot all the love and attention I had been craving alone in the dark over the last two nights, was offered by the guest now sitting in the passenger seat snuggled up close with her paw possessively on my leg.
Before leaving the car, I spoke reassuringly, as she curled contentedly into her seat, sufficiently convinced that she would not be abandoned to the elements. The silkiness of her head under my hand combined with the response of the gentlest puppy kisses caused a jawbreaker sized lump to form in my throat. Visitations by angels continued, with offers of helpful advice. A couple of the staff even came out to the car to see if they recognized the dog. She seemed to enjoy her celebrity status despite a momentary return to hyper-vigilance.
We headed over to Natick Animal Hospital to have her scanned for a microchip. She did have one, connecting her to a breeder in Missouri but had not been registered here. I waited awhile, watching through a window as she sat shivering slightly, but also relieved, and I knew she was in good hands. The staff assured me that they would find her owners, but it was incredibly hard to go.
Leaving the clinic I was momentarily distracted by what I have to come to think of as the bread and butter lies, you know the ones. They say horrible things like why did you have trouble leaving her? What did you think would happen? You are pathetic and have serious underlying attachment issues. Fortunately, at that point I recognized the deceit of no good act goes unpunished and promptly banished them with the following:
Breathe in – the past is gone.
Breathe out – the time is now.
Breathe in – I am.
Breathe out – still here.
I never did get those errands done, opting instead to head home to collect Molly and Thunder to hang out in the gentle rain in Erin’s backyard. Their antics are the gifts of friendship. Were they really being extra gentle? They kept sniffing my pant leg, where the angel dog had laid her head when she finally relaxed in the passenger seat. I felt like I received a blessing, and that I was as much in need of her intervention as she was of mine. The vet’s office called and spoke to mom while I was making dinner. They said a lovely woman had come to claim her and that she had seemed extremely happy when they left. I called the Vet this morning because in order to honor our experience, I needed to know her name.
It is Isabella. I looked up the meaning. In Hebrew the translation is God is an oath, or God is a promise. In Spanish, it means God is bountiful, or God of plenty. I would say, that my afternoon with Isabella and the other angels was a reminder, of all of the above.