THE WEEK THAT TONY WAS MINE

When I was about six years old, when owning a dog was way better than owning a bike or a new baby brother, one almost became a part of our family when we took a lost dog into our home.

I heard my parents talking about finding his owner. That didn’t matter to me. As far as I was concerned, I was his owner now. He was in our house, he licked my face and allowed me to lead him around the living room with a belt around his neck. For all intent and purposes, he was mine.

I have no recollection why I named him Tony. But thinking back, it was a good fit. I do recall that my parents would jump for a ringing telephone, and only now do I realize they were hoping that Tony’s owners had read their “Lost and Found” notice they had placed in the paper about this dog living in our house. For some reason, they didn’t seem to catch on that I had designated him to belong to me. Forever.

Tony the dream dog sat when I told him to sit, perking up his ears and waiting for my next command. He would bounce across the floor to me when I called him.

We were inseparable….until a week later when a knock on our front door ended a perfect dog-child relationship.

A young couple stood there on our porch, peering around my father and into our living room. Tony’s owners had come for him. It was a shocking surprise to me, but not to my parents. I was too young to realize there had been some collusion that brought these people here.

My father saw the couple’s “lost dog” ad in the evening paper and realized it could be the answer to his prayers.

When he opened the door with Tony at his side, the man and woman both clapped their hands and yelled, “Ranger!” My Tony leaped up and at them, barking frantically, then circled around as though doing a Greek wedding dance.

No, I thought, this can’t be. “Tony!” I yelled. “Tony! Tony!” I bent my knees and slapped my thighs, our signal for him to come to me. “Come here, Tony!” COME HERE!” By now I was screaming frantically. I’m not sure how I could not be noticed, but no one seemed to mind my hysteria. In fact, I was totally ignored, even by my beloved Tony.

The pretty woman knelt down and Tony licked her face as he did mine just an hour before. His tail was whirling while he yelped in a dog’s soprano voice. His eyes never left the pretty woman before him.

I no longer existed and he was no longer Tony. And I knew in my heart he definitely was no longer mine.

Then I watched my Tony being led away on a leash by two strangers who could never love him as much as I did. I knew he loved me too, even though he never looked back.

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Donna and Friend

Donna Tabor blogs about life in Nicaragua.

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