“Once upon a time,” Oliver chuckled, and Libby had to smile at the silly beginning. “A young dog came to live with a young family. He worked hard at learning what was expected of him, and found that it was really quite easy to do what he was told. Except for one thing. When they left him alone at home, he became very unhappy, and very forgetful. He forgot that he wasn’t supposed to drink out of the toilet, and he wasn’t supposed to chew up the towels (they were so much fun to pull off the rods and rip to shreds), and he wasn’t supposed to drag the newspaper all over the house. When his people got home, he tried to show them how glad and relieved he was that they were back, but all they did was scold and punish him. So he became more afraid of times they would leave him. “Not the best logic,” Oliver said, “but a dog can’t be expected to understand everything.”
“Back to the story. One day, they left him and didn’t come back. Not at his dinner time, not when it got dark, and not when it was bedtime. He ripped up two towels and pulled the rest off the wall. He spread the newspaper all the way down the hall. Which came in handy when he needed to do his business. He drank half the toilet water and drooled all the way onto the hall rug. But the newspapers absorbed some of it. He was so bored he took a nap.” Libby laughed, picturing the dog’s antics through the house.
“But he became more afraid, the longer his people were gone. He became more forgetful, and forgot he wasn’t supposed to howl in the house. The howling made him feel better. At least it wasn’t so quiet any more. When he stopped howling, it was fearfully quiet, so he howled some more.”
Oliver paused, while the sound of the fearful quiet settled around them. “Now dogs don’t think in words, I guess, but they seem to some times. He wondered where his people were, and why they didn’t come home to him. Maybe they were afraid of the mess they would find when they got there? No, that couldn’t be it. Maybe they got lost? Maybe they needed directions to get back? He howled louder so they could hear him and find their way home.”
By this time Libby was laughing out loud. The silly dog filled her with a vivid picture of confusion and loneliness. “Oh, Oliver, what does he do? What does he figure out?”
“Well, using typical doggie logic,” Oliver grinned back at her, “he decided to try to get out of the house. Not to escape or leave, but to go and find his people and help them get home. Get home to him, to his house.”
“He jumped at the front door, which of course, was locked and secure. He scratched and dug at the back door, and pushed at the little door he usually used to get to the yard, but the flap was tightly shut, and wouldn’t budge. He wandered around the house, wondering what to do next. A cool breeze rustled across his ears. Looking toward the fresh air, he noticed the curtains blowing in the little girls’ room. The window. It was open.
He jumped onto the bed, and found he could reach the windowsill with his paws, and look out. Hmmm. Long way down.”
Libby laughed again at the dog’s thoughts anticking at the window.
Oliver continued, “This story is fun. It keeps growing, but I’d better get to the point.”
“You’ve made me laugh and cry because it’s so funny. Thanks. I needed that.”
“Then, mission accomplished. I’ll stop now.”
“No, no! You have to tell me what that crazy dog does next! You have to.”
“As he is looking down the street, lights come around the corner. They attract his attention, and he watches them. They get closer to the house, and slow down, and then stop in front of his house. He can’t see the car from his window, but he hears a familiar voice, then several familiar voices, and realizes it is his people.”
“Does he think to run out of the room, down the hall and to the front door? No. He tries and tries to get out the window, to jump out and go see them. He begins barking and howling, desperate to get to his people. But he can’t do it.”
“Since he is so busy barking, he doesn’t hear the children coming down the hall. Suddenly their voices are right behind him, telling him to stop the ruckus and get off the bed. Another rule he’d forgotten.”
“He leaped at them, almost knocking them over and expressing his enthusiasm and joy with all the wiggles and waggles he could muster. The children laughed and tumbled with him for a few minutes. When the parents came to the room, it was to remind them that it was late and they needed to get ready for bed. He tried to greet them in the same manner, but it wasn’t received as eagerly.”
“The mom let the dog out the back door, but now he didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay with them, inside. She shoed him out, he took care of business and came bouncing back in through the doggie door to greet them all again.”
“In his doggie understanding, he just hadn’t been able to see that with patience, they would have come home, that it wasn’t all his antics that brought them back. But he knew, now they were home and he was happy again, taking care of his people.”