I’m reading on the couch Sunday afternoon when my daughter calls from her cell phone.
She’s walking on a nearby trail system and met a woman who lost her dog. The woman gave my daughter her cell phone number, in hopes that my daughter might find her dog.
My daughter says excitedly, I found the dog!
Good going, I say.
The dog, however, keeps rolling around on its back and begging for rubs. The dog won’t walk. What do I do?
Good lord, I think. I close my book.
The afternoon is rapidly heading towards dark. I take the leftover soup from the refrigerator and set it on the woodstove to begin heating. My younger daughter, excited to be doing something, knocks off her homework and offers to drive, nothing that her sister needs assistance.
As we head through the village in the twilight, I say, Hey, look at you. At fifteen, you’re already on your first dog rescue mission.
She asks, You’ve done this before?
It’s dark by the time we find the elderly woman, wearing a mask, in her car in the dark by the side of the road, talking on her cell phone with my daughter.
I tell the woman my daughter is in the field, on the other side of the ruins of an old house, marked by maple trees. My youngest goes ahead, and I walk with the woman, lifting strands of electric fence that have been turned off for the season. In a break in the parting clouds, the sunset appears briefly as a dark bruise in the sky, before the night swallows it up. It’s balmy yet, for December; but it is early winter, and I know our house will be warm when we return.
My oldest — who cares not at all for dogs — has remained with the dog. At home, she washes away the scent of dog under her cat’s serious scrutiny.
Her sister says, You kept the dog’s person from getting lost, too…