“We’re home,” I said in that tone you use when you give a dog the good news, and her soft ears pricked. She sat up, looking eagerly out the window. She hadn’t come to any palace, just a hundred-year- old Victorian cottage swamped with evergreens, bamboo and a lot of weeds I never found time to whack. But it boasted a fascinating yard I had already decided to have fenced in despite the cost. Sam and I walked the perimeter of the proposed yard so the dog could pee copiously once more, and then my friend (whose husband was waiting for her) had to take her leave of us. She had been walking Dancer and the dog seemed a trifle confused when I took the leash, as though she had considered Sam her new owner, but when I led her into a warm place that smelled like food, she went right in.

Kitty, accustomed to dogs, actually deigned to thump down from the rocking chair to greet us. The next thing I knew, I was flattened against the solid oak door as a rampaging whirlwind ripped out of my unprepared grasp. The cat had MOVED–God save the mark!—and Dancer responded instantly. Poor Kitty, who hadn’t run that fast since her youth, whipped up the slippery wooden steps. She was able to make good her getaway because Dancer had never before encountered steps. The dog thrashed at the bottom, lunging in impotent fury, unable to deduce how to get upstairs.

“No!” I admonished when I could catch my breath. “Bad dog! No chase!”

She looked at me as if I was crazy.

“Oh, come on,” I said, relenting. “Let’s eat.”

“I was just about to,” her expression said. “Where did that cat go, anyway?”

Kitty had gone to the attic. She stayed there for a long time and she must have had telepathy with Smudgie, the barn cat, because I didn’t see old Smudge for days.

Her food disappeared and so did she.

There followed a delightful afternoon and evening of snoozing on the couch with the dog tucked in the same position she had assumed with Sam, in this case flat on top of me with her nose between my neck and shoulder. As long as her eyes were hidden, that tuck seemed to say, she couldn’t spot anyone coming to take her away from heaven. A wave of protective warmth suffused my heart. This dog must have been through hell. Who knew what awful things had happened to her? Well, her troubles were over. I would see to that.

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