It started out as the neighborly thing to do.
Up the road from the Rondarosa lives Doug and his family. We have known each other since childhood and now, in the years of our maturity, he is a wonderful neighbor, proving his helpfulness time after time. A few of those times, when I’ve had to call him for help, involved barbed wire wrapped around the blades of the mower. Once, we rescued what we thought was an injured puppy that actually turned out to be a coyote, the very animal we try to protect our farms from. And another time — this was almost downright historic and did wind up making the front page of the newspaper — we teamed to help lower the boom on a band of crooks that had long plagued several counties.
One Saturday in mid-February, Doug called. “I hate to bother y’all but we’re out of town and my mother-in-law is house-sitting. Our little dog has gotten loose so if you’d keep an eye out for her, I’d appreciate it.”
When the call ended, I turned to Tink. “We have to go and look for that dog right now. Doug has been too good a neighbor. And I know from experience, it’s a terrible feeling to be gone and have something like this happen.”
On a cut-through road, about a mile away, we found the little dog that had already been discovered by a nice woman who, seeing that the dog was wearing a collar, knew something was wrong and stopped to put the dog on a spare leash she had. In the middle of the country, the nice woman was going door to door to find the dog’s home. We stopped and pointed her in the right direction and then headed back home ourselves.
Before we’d seen Doug’s dog, however, we had discovered the cutest black and white puppy, about three months old, standing guard outside a gutter pipe on vacant property. The moment I saw what looked to be a beagle, I said impulsively, “That dog is going home to the Rondarosa.”
If memory serves correctly, Tink rolled his eyes. For two days, I tried to entice the dog out of the drainpipe where she retreated whenever she saw our car. She scampered in, stayed firm, and barked defensively. Every time my efforts failed, I left food at the mouth of the pipe and promised to return. One morning, I grabbed a couple of biscuits from a fresh-baked batch and headed out to try once again. An ice storm was coming in a few hours and I did not want that baby shivering in water and ice.
The moment that dog smelled the Southern buttermilk biscuits, her barking ceased and she scrambled quickly out of her bunker, tail wagging, toward fresh food. I scooped her up, carried her to the truck and said, “Well, Biscuit, you’re going to have a happy home.”
Boy, does she. The plan was for Biscuit to live outside but ice was coming and since Tink had gone to Los Angeles, I brought her in the house — where she never left. She now weighs 28 pounds and is a beautiful example of God’s hand as an artist. She is white with a black mask across her face, freckles on her nose, and polka dots and spots perfectly spaced and painted on her body.
She’s become Tink’s best friend. Wherever he goes, she intends to follow. When he is on the tractor or mower, she is nearby watching him, ever faithful. She often rides with him to the hardware store, feed store, or just across the Rondarosa. He rolls down her window, she puts her nose to the wind, and there they go: two best buddies riding down highways and backroads.
It is a sight to behold, one that never fails to bring a smile or a laugh to me. One lost dog led us to another and, thankfully, both had a happy ending.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.