About a year ago a colleague where I worked gave me two black 6-week old puppies as a present.
I'm not really a pet person ( never owned a dog or cat until then) and never played with other people's pets either. But we thought having a couple of dogs would be a good security measure.
Less than 3 months later, Bob and Dylan were stolen (ja, the irony doesn't escape me that my potential guard dogs were stolen ). We looked everywhere in my suburb, without any luck.
They had collars with my phone number, so if they wandered outside my yard by accident the person who found them should have been able find me.
To make amends the person who opened my gate and led to the dogs going outside gave me my two current puppies, Edward and Hayley. And we thought life had moved on.
Baby and I were going to see the Hannah Montana movie, and she stepped outside while I made sure everything was locked and tight. Anyway, a few minutes later, she walked back into the house, rinsed her face with cold water (to wake herself up and make sure was not dreaming, she later explained), then peeked through the door again.
"Damaria, I think Dylan is sitting outside," she said. "And he's with a big brown dog I don't know."
Puzzled, I went outside, and found the two dogs sitting under my veranda table. It was hard to tell if the back dog was Dylan, but it really looked like him. And he looked up when I called his name.
We were running late for the movie, and I didn't want to tell Baby we had to cancel. On the other hand, how was I going to deal with the dogs?
So I called the friend who gave me Edward and Hayley and explained the situation; asked him to come over and feed the two dogs and make sure they don't leave until I came back. He called back 15 minutes later to say he couldn't find the dogs in the veranda, but would look all over the yard.
Unravelling the mystery
Turned out that they hid behind the garden cottage when I left. So I spent the afternoon worried about where they'd gone to, and even more importantly, trying to understand how Dylan found me in the first place.
He's no more than 12-months old now (more or less), so he was tiny when he got lost. Do dogs remember that far back?
And if Dylan was well-cared for by his new owners, why come looking for me? How far did he travel to come to find me, and for that matter, how did he know where to find me?
I thought animals that travel distances to look for their former owners happened only in the movies?
The other thing that doesn't add up is that my house has changed since Bob and Dylan lived with us. I've built a high perimeter wall, repainted the house. Inside the yard, there are many more changes.
Did the two dogs really jump over a gate to enter a stranger's yard? Also, the fact that he brought a friend along to look for me with him makes even less sense.
The more disturbing aspect of the whole deal is that both dogs look very tall but skinny. And they are terrified of humans. Dylan looks at me when I call his name, but he shakes the whole time. And when I get too close, they both run off.
And big as they are, they climb all over each other, squeeze into a corner when I approach. They don't bark though. And when I gave them food, they wouldn't eat until I was long gone, even though they were clearly very hungry.
Eleven year old Baby argues, quite intelligently of course, that I can't keep the new arrivals.
"We can't have four dogs! You're going to be like those crazy old women who have hundreds of cats and just keep getting more if you're not careful," she says. "You'll be the dog lady and every stray in the neighbourhood will know if they come here, you'll keep them."
A friend of mine lives in a smaller yard than mine in the neighbourhood, and she has 4 dogs, so space should be manageable.
But Baby is right; can we actually keep four dogs?
A second, creepy theory I did not share with Baby was that the dogs did not travel across town from where ever they came from to find us: the people who stole Dylan gave them up and dropped them off here at my house.
Maybe they couldn't take care of them anymore. Makes me feel weird to think people I don't know have been watching me, and decided I'd be the person to take care of "their" dogs.
And the $64 000 question: Where is Bob?
So now I have decisions to make: what to do with the new dogs? Do I keep them and hope that Baby will get used to them? Do I take them to the SPCA, where they are unlikely to be adopted considering their size and the bad economy?
Do I give them to my mother, whose dog is old (11 years old) and has ample space for them to run and play? Do I look for their old owners?