"There's a dog in our garage," I called out as I stepped into the house. I opened the door and scooped the tiny bundle of stinky fur into my arms as I called out again to my husband. "It's pitiful," I said, not really knowing whether it was male or female just yet.
"Oh, no," was my husband's reply. He, a bonafide dog rescuer himself, could easily imagine a sleepless night huddling around this tiny little thing who appeared to be on the steps of death itself. I gingerly sat the little fella down on the floor and watched as he hobbled over to the dog food bowl. He took a tentative bite and looked around. Then another and another. He ate slowly, but it was clear that he had nearly starved to death. Ribs and backbone protruding, he shook uncontrollably from the cold, oblivious to the cacophony of barks just outside the door as our two dogs peered in through the French doors.
"Call Mother," my husband suggested. "See if she'll keep him tonight." Now in their mid-eighties, my mother- and father-in-law may still be on the spry side, but they are aware of their impending limitations. Although they always had dogs, they've been without one for many years now, not wanting the responsibility.
As we waited and pondered what to do, I pushed the hair back from the dog's eyes and saw an empty socket where his right eye had been. His teeth didn't look good either, so I decided he was either a very sick puppy or a sick old man who needed some TLC just to get through the night.
I had already posted photos of the dog on Facebook and had a friend working the lines to get another foster lined up when my husband pulled out a crate from under the house and took the little guy over to his parents' house.
At least we can sleep tonight, I thought selfishly, as I let our two dogs back in the house. It would have been tricky letting all three dogs camp out together in our living room or bedroom. I was relieved that the little dog had another warm, safe place for the night. There was no way he could have survived being outside on his own again.
The next day was a school day for me, so I didn't get to talk to my in-laws until I was driving home. My mother-in-law said that they could take care of him for a few days. She mentioned that my father-in-law's old band mates were coming over to play on Sunday, but that the little dog probably wouldn't be in the way. My father-in-law had already gone out and spent $30 on a few things the dog might need. A new collar and leash, some canned dog food since his teeth weren't so good. Thanks to my mother-in-law, the kennel shone like new.
I wanted to stop by and see the dog and make sure those two sweeties were really okay about taking care of him. As soon as I walked in, I knew....
The little dog had made himself right at home. On a velvet chair, no less. The kennel crate sat nearby with its door open. A big, soft dog bed inside. He was bathed and was sporting a crimson collar.
He had eaten two plates of chicken gizzards and liver, had drank warm milk and water, and had felt so safe and secure that he was finally able to sleep. And he did. In his velvet chair.
And this little guy had a new name, too. Roy B after a beloved uncle of my mother-in-law's, who, she said, was crippled up and walked a lot like this little fella. Stumbling and tottering along, but getting somewhere in spite of it.
"I can't let him go to anyone else," she said after a few minutes. "I don't think anyone else would take care of him like we do."
No, I thought. Probably not. Roy B has a new family.
Roy B slept in the crate last night but with the door wide open. He woke up before his new parents did. Today, they bought him a fuzzy toy. He doesn't really want to play with it, she said, but it gives him comfort when he sleeps.
Angels really do live among us.