This week’s writing prompt on Daring Do flipped me back in time to this moment in my life. Clear as a bell, it’s something I’ll never forget. It’s great to save an animal.
Serendipity [from its possession by the characters in the Persian fairy tale, “The Three Princes of Serendip] – The faculty of making providential discoveries by accident.
Synchronicity – causing to operate with exact coincidence in time or rate; occurrence, arrangement, or movement.
Call it serendipity. Call it synchronicity. Millie could care less. All she knows is that she’s home again, safe in familiar surroundings with her best buddy, Sunset. After a week and a half on the run, it’s no doubt a welcome change. And what a week — running through backyards and along busy highways, curling up in the cool shade of a tree, seeking shelter during downpours, eating God-knows-what just to survive, nowhere near anything familiar. Lost. What a scary word, especially for those who have no words.
No, Millie doesn’t care about semantics.
She started her trek a little over a week ago — along with Sunset, a large, older Golden Retriever. Within an hour or two Sunset was back, but not so Millie. Posters of the small Rhodesian Ridgeback mix appeared at work and around the area where she was lost.
“Millie,” they read. “I got lost Saturday Evening. I am light brown with white markings and paws. I have a stubby tail, and an unsual ridge of hair on my back. If you have seen me please phone my home.”
As days dragged on with no word, no sighting, her owner said he preferred to think someone had picked her up. After all, the alternatives were neither pretty nor comforting — dead or hopelessly lost and alone.
Today, though, synchronicity intervened. Either that or serendipity. Today, on my way to work past the imposing brick building known as the Oil and Gas Museum — one of the few places in a traffic-ridden downtown where there’s a bit of shade and welcoming grass — I saw a dog. A little brown dog with a stubby tail and an unusual ridge of hair down the back.
There’s a certain air about a lost animal that speaks volumes. You can tell it’s not a pet out for a stroll, confident in knowing the way home. Something just says, “I’m lost.” Perhaps it’s the set of a tail, the dip of a head, the wary and weary stance.
Shyly, the dog moved away toward traffic as I headed down the sidewalk, so I quickly changed course to the other side. But something clicked. That ridge of hair. The color. The size. That “I’m lost” look.
“Millie?” A slight prick of the ears. “Millie?” Another look of interest. I walked on, thinking I’d call her owner when I got to work, but I just couldn’t go further. With Millie watching me closely from the other side of the street, I dug out my phone and called Linda at work. “I’m over by the Oil & Gas Museum.” I gave her no chance to talk. “There’s a stray dog that looks like it could be Millie. Call Kerry.” She wasted no time.
“All the way here?” he asked her, voice filled with skepticism. “You’d better go,” she said. “Now.”
And go he did, like a shot, leaving coworkers to wonder at his quick exit. In the meantime, I slowly crossed the street and sat down on a low wall and talked to Millie, who by now lay down in the shade, ever watchful. “Millie, I’m sitting here if it’s OK with you.” Again, the ears pricked.
Maybe that’s why she stayed. Or maybe she just wanted to hear a friendly voice that wasn’t yelling at her. Maybe it’s because she sensed that her journey was nearly over. I can’t pretend to know why, but she lay there long enough for Kerry to zip down three flights of stairs and travel almost half a block. Even so, I could tell she’d finally decided to move on. Slowly, she rose to her feet and turned, once again, toward the morning traffic. Seeing Kerry across the street, I rose, too, and called her name again in hopes of keeping her from the busy street.
It turns out that it didn’t matter. When he saw her for himself he literally flew across the road, green light or not. “It’s her!”
Skittish, she shied away even from him, but then recognition set in and she knew it was OK. Tail wagging, tongue kissing, she came to where he hunkered down in the grass. That smile, from this quiet man, was reward enough.
As for Millie? Well, synchronicity and serendipity being what they are, consider this: she traveled a mile or two from her home to the very place her owner worked. She managed to be at the museum when someone who knew of her absence and loss was passing by, but that only by happenstance. I’d taken a seldom-used walking route after cleaning some cups and trash from my car. And I’d dawdled there, looking for my employee badge, which kept me from walking the other way with a coworker. Millie hung around, curious enough to watch a stranger who knew her name and who sat nearby not even trying to catch her, or yell at her, or otherwise threaten her.
Who knows? Millie doesn’t care. She only knows she’s home again.