The Sabbath Dog

Last Sabbath was an exceptional day, because the Exceptional Drought our area has been stuck in was finally broken. A thunderstorm blew in at 4:30 a.m. and stayed for the next four days.


When the storm blew in, it blew open a screen door at the apartments down the road, and a little Scottie dog escaped. He showed up on our front porch around 9:00 a.m., and there he stayed until his owner found him at seven hours later.


While the rain brought me joy, it brought my children sorrow. At breakfast, they griped that it was Spring Break and they couldn’t play outside. Their view changed when the dog came.


Can we feed it? Can we give it water? Can we walk it around and find its owner? Can we have a towel to dry it off? I answered, Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!


Despite the rain, their friends came over, and they became enthralled with the dog, too. It played fetch in the rain. It squiggled in their arms. It pretended to play with the stuffed dogs my daughter brought it for companionship.


Meanwhile, I was getting worried. I’d had to lock our dog in the garage so she would leave the stranger alone. I’d called the SPCA, and they had not received reports of a lost dog. I’d called a few neighbors, and no one recognized it. As the day dragged on, I wondered what to do if the owner didn’t come before dark. The dog had no tags.


At 3:30 p.m., my 13-year-old son made an impassioned plea that we keep the dog. No way, I said. This dog belongs to someone. I prayed that the owner would come soon. Thirty minutes later, she did. She did not seem nearly as worried about her dog as we had been.  Maybe she was just putting on a brave face, the same kind of face we put on as the dog left us.


As I went to bed that night, I thought that the dog was remarkly like the Sabbath — a gift. All day it distracted us from our duties. We delighted in its presence. We were sad to see it go.