Written in 2005
By Amy Sondova I’m not one to give my heart away to any guy that just crosses my path, but today one just stole my heart. I was driving home from a trip to a craft store in Lancaster County when a flash of black fur ran in front of my car. I slammed on my brakes and pulled into an elementary school parking lot. As I opened my car door, I was greeted by an adorable black cocker spaniel that held no grudge that I almost hit him with my car.
He wagged his little tail so furiously that his entire back end moved left and right with enthusiasm. The dog had no identification around his neck, only a choke chain. I created a makeshift leash using the lanyard cord from my key chain and a bungee clip. We crossed the street together. He busied himself by smelling various areas on the sidewalk while I began knocking on doors and ringing doorbells.
After several unsuccessful attempts, finally an elderly woman opened the door to the home. I explained to her that I had found this dog running in the roadway and asked her if she knew his owner. She gave me a knowing look and told me my new friend’s sad story.
A family that lived only a mile away owned the dog. However, the poor dog is neglected and roams the neighborhood every day looking for a friend. Well-meaning neighbors and strangers returned the dog to his home several times but the family did not care. They offered ownership of the dog to all who returned him. She told me they were terrible people who hoped the dog would get hit by a car so they didn’t have to deal with him anymore. She told me I should just take the dog and give him a good home. I told her that my landlord doesn’t allow us to own dogs as I unclasped my new friend from my makeshift leash. I guess I’ll just leave him here, I thought.
The dog began running down the sidewalk and I started to cross the street. All of a sudden, the spaniel was at my side, prepared to cross the street with me. I walked back to the curb and he stayed by my leg. I had to make sure that we crossed the street together because I knew that the dog was not streetwise as evidenced by his earlier romp through the roadway. We ran across the street and I knew then what I had to do.
I knew I had to save this dog from his hellish existence. I opened the passenger side door, and the dog hopped right in, like he was a frequent passenger in my SUV. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with him, but I knew I had to do something. Doing nothing was simply unacceptable. Bobby Darin’s “Mac the Knife” boomed through the car speakers as we took off.
Lightning flashed across the sky, and torrents of rain began hitting my windshield. I was glad the dog wasn’t outside in this horrible storm. I looked over at my traveling companion who was staring contentedly out of the window. He was well behaved, shifting between sitting and lying positions. I decided to take him to my father’s house. I reasoned that my dad and his girlfriend already had two cocker spaniels, why not one more?
We raced through the thunderstorm and arrived at my father’s house where the rain was light and refreshing. I introduced the dog to my father, his girlfriend, and their dogs. I knew that once they met this well-mannered canine, there was no way they could refuse him. But they did because they weren’t allowed to another dog.
There was only one place he could go, and that was the second worst place I wanted to take him (the worst place would be back where he came from) and that was the humane society. I called up my roommate, Sarah, crying out of pure frustration. She told me to come home so she could drive the dog and me to the pound. I agreed half-hearted and we set off again.
She agreed that this dog was indeed a charmer and began calling the dog, “Fred”. “Fred” definitely seemed to be a fitting and dignified name for the dog, so I began to use it as well. Fred was a perfect gentleman in the car. He was so well-behaved we may have forgotten about him if he had not been for his stench. Finally, we arrived at the humane society driving into the employee entrance by accident. Sarah waited in the car as I ignored the “no trespassing” signs and began searching for the stray animal drop-off unit that is attached to the building. I came across the outside kennel and all the dogs that Fred would be competing with to find a home barked at me. I looked at the lot, and except for a rather nice looking black lab, this bunch of mutts was pathetic compared to Fred. I was confident he would get adopted.
I found the stray drop-off center, a small room with five cages—three for cats and two for dogs. They were lined with paper and each had a small dish of food and another dish of water. Once the animal was placed in the cage, it was safely locked in the cage until an animal care worker arrived the next morning. I ran back to the car and told Sarah I found where we needed to take Fred.
We drove over to the room and Fred hesitated before jumping out of the car. I tugged on his makeshift leash and Fred reluctantly followed me into the drop-off center. I hugged Fred and laid my hands on him in prayer. I prayed that God would take care of Him and find him a wonderful family that would love him. I asked God to find humans who would fulfill their call to care for the earth’s creation as commanded in the book of Genesis. I unclasped my key chain from Fred’s collar and put him in the cage. He stared at me and whined for attention as I filled out paperwork about why I was dropping off an animal.
I wrote about Fred as best I could calling him a stray. I told them that we gave him the name “Fred” as we were driving him to the humane society and we wanted to keep him but our landlord wouldn’t allow us to have dogs. I begged them to call me and let me know if Fred got adopted. I dropped the paper in the appointed slot and bent down to give Fred a final goodbye. He sadly stared at me and it broke my heart. I told Fred to have a good life and thanked him for visiting me.
As I walked out of the facility, a floodgate of tears poured down my face. I wish I could take Fred home and give him a great home. I was angry that someone would mistreat such a great dog. I hated that he had to sit in that cage all night. But I had hope that despite the long night, he would have a future.
Every time I stop to pick up a stray dog, I swear I will never do it again. The more time I spend with the dog, the harder it is to say goodbye. Every dog I’ve ever picked up made it back home or found a new home, so that is encouraging. I wondered if God had Fred run in front of my car at that exact time because He knew I would stop. Fred acted as though he was expecting me, but that’s silly, right? I mean, God wouldn’t go through all that trouble to save a small black cocker spaniel, would He? I think He would….He’s that kind of God.