So it’s been a couple of months since we came home to find a Boston terrier on our back porch. We hadn't seen around again. Well, until yesterday, that is. I was trying to get out the door to go and pick up Dr. Smooth from school. And as always, I was running a tad bit late. I was juggling my phone and his tennis racket and tennis shoes with one hand, and my purse and his lunch bag and a water bottle with the other. I managed to push the alarm set button on the keyfob with my thumb, and I opened the door with a couple of fingers of my left hand while juggling the stuff I was holding. Suddenly a blur of black and white blew past me and inside the house. I recognized him immediately as he headed for the kitchen. I dropped everything, running after him yelling, “No, Paul! No! Outside! Outside, Paul!” He completely ignored me, and I realize that could be because the dog’s name is not actually Paul. I clapped my hands; I stomped my feet; I yelled “Outside!”. But Paul was not having it. He was running around the kitchen with his tongue and tail both wagging. In the pantry – “Got any treats?” To the water bowl – “Woo, I’m thirsty!” To all three dog bowls – “Wow! I’m like Goldilocks with the three bears. But why is there no food in these bowls?” And to the sliding glass door – “I remember that pool! I hung out there one night!” Round and round and round the island we went, and Paul was always just a couple of steps ahead of me. I finally caught him and ran my finger through his collar to pull him to the door. He flopped over on his back and became absolute dead weight. He would not budge. I pulled him gently and he slid across the tiles on his back for a couple of seconds before the entire collar just slipped over his head, and then up and off he ran. Round and round and round the kitchen again. It was about that time that the alarm went off. I hadn’t thought to turn off the countdown when my departure got delayed. My dogs were already going nuts, freaked out by my yelling and the presence of another dog in their house. But when the alarm sounded, they really hyped up. Dexter howled louder than a wolfman on a clear full-moon night. If Paul was freaked out in the least by the alarm or the howling, he didn’t show it. He was back in the pantry, scouting for a treat. I caught him there, and got his collar back on, but then I had to sprint to the alarm panel to cancel the alarm before the security system called. When I came back, he was exploring the living room, and as he paused to sniff a pair of shoes by the door, I scooped him up and put him outside. Somehow as soon as his feet touched the ground, he was immediately headed back in. We wrestled over the threshold for a few seconds as he tried desperately to get his head in the door and I tried desperately to keep him outside. I finally got the door closed and stood inside staring through the glass at him. I wondered briefly if I was going to be able to leave the house, but in a move that reminded me of “Squirrel!” in the movie UP, he suddenly forgot he wanted in and took off running down the sidewalk. I really need to figure out which house Paul lives in (and his real name) so I could talk with his owners about keeping their dog safe. On a leash. Or in their yard. Or in their house. Or out of my house. Maybe we could arrange play dates and Paul could come visit, since he obviously enjoys it here!
A while back, Dr. Smooth and I arrived home to find My Knight doing a weird dance outside the front door motioning for us to get out of the car and come inside. “Where's your phone? Where's his phone? Where've you been? I’ve been trying to call both of you. Why aren’t you answering your phones?” Although there was some volume, frustration, and urgency in his voice, I didn’t get the feeling anything tragic had happened. So I was curious but not overly concerned. “We didn’t hear the phone. We were singing and had the radio turned up,” I said nonchalantly as I gathered things from the car. “And we stopped to get gas.” “HURRY UP! Come on! I’ve been trying to call you!” He was waving his arm like the boat was going to leave and we were going to need to jump from the shore to make it. “What’s the matter? What’s going on?” I asked, starting to get concerned. “Just come here. You have to see this. I’ve been trying to call you,” he repeated. “You said that. We couldn’t hear the phones,” I explained again, wondering what on earth could be so exciting and urgent INSIDE our house. What was up with this man? “Come on,” he said, waving his arms again. We were clearly NOT moving fast enough. He led us through the living room and kitchen and out onto the pool patio, not even giving me time to put down the shopping bags. As soon as I stepped onto the patio, I was greeted by a bouncy, happy, exuberant Boston terrier. “What the hell?” I asked. My mind zoomed to furious like a rocket. I thought My Knight had brought home ANOTHER dog. Considering that we are maxed out at four dogs already, I was none too pleased. “I came home and he was here, inside the screen room,” he said. “Awesome!” shouted Dr. Smooth. “Can we name him Paul?” “We’re not naming him anything!” I shouted back. “Where did he come from? You don’t know anything about this?” asked My Knight. “No! What do you mean he was inside the screen room? How’d he get in here?” I asked. “Come, Paul. Come, Paul,” Dr. Smooth said, patting his thighs and beckoning to the hyper dog. “Stop calling him that! We are not naming him Paul and we are not keeping him,” I said. “He looks really clean and well-fed. He has to be someone’s pet.” MK: “But how did he get in here?” Me: “I don’t know. Maybe someone found him loose and figured he must be ours since we have more dogs than anyone else in the neighborhood. But he can’t stay here!” DrS: “Why? He’s great, Mom! Sit, Paul! Sit!” Me: “His name is not Paul. And we’re not keeping him.” I turned to My Knight, who looked just as excited as Dr. Smooth. I was very worried as to what that meant for my household. “This is someone’s pet. You know we can’t keep him, right?” MK: “But someone put him in here.” DrS: “Look, mom. Paul knows Sit! I wonder what other commands he knows.” Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Me: “We are not keeping Paul. Uh, whatever his name is. We are not keeping him. We have FOUR dogs already. We are bursting at the seams with dogs. No. We have to find his owners. I am sure they are missing him.” MK: “Well, you aren’t going to be able to find them tonight.” DrS: “Yeah, Mom. Can’t we just keep Paul tonight?” No. No. No. No. No. Me: “We really need to find his owners.” MK: “How you gonna do that?” I had no idea. But I was certain that we could not take another dog. We are animal lovers. And if I had more room and more money, I’d take ten more. But I don’t. So I can’t. Me: “I’m going to walk around the neighborhood and knock on doors and ask if this is their dog.” I got a leash and set out with Paul and Dr. Smooth. I quickly realized it was after 9pm, and there are over 70 houses in our neighborhood, so this may not have been a great plan. But I was determined Paul was not staying at our house. I walked to the other end of our cul-de-sac, hoping that Paul would pick up a familiar scent and magically lead me to his owner. But he picked up every single scent on every single blade of grass in our neighborhood. I don’t think this crazy dog had any idea where home was, or even cared to find it. He was the happiest, most excited little being on the planet just to be alive and sniffing. I went to my neighbor a few houses down who is a close friend. I thought perhaps she might know Paul’s owners. She suggested a house between mine and hers because she had heard barking there and knew they had dogs. I watched for any sign of recognition as we approached the front door, but Paul was clueless. I rang the bell and was immediately greeted with extremely loud and deep gruff barks that would have never come from a Boston terrier. I quickly passed Paul’s leash to Dr. Smooth and told him to get Paul out of sight. I didn’t want to keep him, but I didn’t want him eaten alive either. A young lady opened the door with her two very large dogs, and I explained about Paul. Her parents both came to the door then, and her mother said she had owned a Boston terrier for years. She got teary-eyed as she talked about the dog passing away years earlier. I thanked them and apologized for the inconvenience and started walking again to catch up to Dr. Smooth and crazy-happy-bouncy Paul. My Knight was standing in the street by our house, so we stopped to update him. While we were standing there, the young girl from the house with the big dogs came walking up. “My mom really wants the dog,” she said. “We’ll take him if you want.” As much as I wanted to be rid of Paul, I also wanted to make sure he made it back home to his owners. “I really think he lives somewhere in the neighborhood. I want to try to find his home,” I replied. “Well, we can take him tonight, and then my mom will put up posters and call the shelters tomorrow. And if we don’t find his owners, we’ll keep him,” she said. So I let Paul go with her. And then I worried the rest of the night whether or not I had done the right thing, and whether or not Paul was okay with them, and whether or not Paul’s owners were worried sick. Fate had trusted Paul to us by mysteriously dumping him inside our screened room, and I had just passed him off. I felt horrible. But Paul has a happy ending! The next day, the young lady’s father called to say they had located Paul’s owner in the neighborhood and Paul was back home safe and sound. I still have no idea how Paul ended up in our screen room, but I think I’ll put a “No Vacancy” sign in our yard just in case.