Fifteen years ago. I had longer hair, skinnier features, and the same truck.
I saw him outside the Mexican restaurant. He was nosing behind the dumpster, looking for food. I’ve seen that look on a creature before. It was desperation.
He edged away from me, but not quickly. He didn’t know if he could trust me, and I couldn’t blame him. It’s a rough world out there.
He wasn’t wagging his tail, so I took the same posture my father used to take in the presence of feral animals. I squatted and held my hands outward.
It worked like a charm. The old boy came right to me.
I was thrilled. There is something about stray dogs that awakens the dog whisperer in me. I whisper; and they run like hailfire.
But this dog didn’t run. He was black, with white spots, he had a chunk missing from one ear. He was timid, but he had a sweet demeanor. He found a special place in my heart from the beginning.
I have always had a thing for strays. This probably goes back to the day my mother first brought home a chocolate dog named Cody. She was a dog with a warm personality that could melt a block of ice.
Cody wore a purple collar and licked me raw upon our first meeting. She became my fast friend. She was not only beautiful, she was the luckiest dog I ever knew.
There was something about her. Once, she was bitten by a copperhead, and survived. Another time, she was poisoned by a farmer with a grudge. She was sick for days, but she survived.
There was the time she fell off a fishing boat without anyone knowing she was missing. She almost drowned. But she didn’t. Somehow she made it to shore. That dog must’ve swam five hundred yards.
Later in my life there was another stray I loved. A Cocker Spaniel—also found by my mother. She was black, and I could tell she was old when I first met her. She had white around her snout and stiffness in her joints.
She was soft, and sweet, and she would keep my feet warm at night as though this were her God-given duty. When she died, I almost did too.
Enough about me.
The stray behind the Mexican restaurant became a sort of buddy to me for one day and a half. I called him “Marcelle,” I don’t know why, I just liked that name, and he looked like a Marcelle to me.
I brought him home and gave him a bath. Dogs love baths, even though dogs would never admit this. Even though they pretend to hate them. They don’t. Once you finish washing them, they get crazy.
Marcelle was no exception. After I washed him, he was a brand new animal. Happy, energetic, and completely insane.
I fed him raw beef, potato chips, and various snacks that were probably against veterinary regulations.
I have a long history of feeding pets food items that are bad for them. Once, I fed Velveeta to a pomeranian and that poor baby couldn’t go to the bathroom for a week. A veterinarian friend threatened to send me to the electric chair for that.
One night, Marcelle was sitting on my front steps, I was reading a book, and an older couple walked by the house. They were out for a stroll.
I don’t know why, but Marcell leapt off the porch to join them, and that was all she wrote. He was gone. I guess there was something about these people that appealed to him. The woman showered him with affection and called him “Poochie.”
She brought him back to me, but I could tell that Marcelle and this woman were made for each other. So I let him go.
She and her husband took Marcelle home, and gave him a good life. And I have no idea why I am typing this story to you.
I sat down this evening to write something altogether different, but I was interrupted, mid-writing, by an email telling me that a dog I once knew had left this world.
And I just thought the old boy deserved a few words.
Will McCarty - March 10, 2019 6:33 am
He sure did. Thanks!
Jill - March 10, 2019 6:50 am
15 years is a long time to have provided a loving home, even indirectly. God has a special place for those who help defenseless creatures. I’m sure of it.
Sandi in FL. - March 10, 2019 7:29 am
Sean, you are most defnitely a dog lover! BTW, how are Thelma Lou and Otis? Give us readers an update on both of them soon, please.
Wanda Thompson - March 10, 2019 8:37 am
Thank you for this wonderful story! I have a very fond feeling for animals especially strays. I keep a bag of dog food in my car so if I can’t get them to come w/ me, I can at least give them a good meal that won’t give them worms. It absolutely breaks my heart to see what SOME people will do to innocent animals. It’s appalling! It is heart warming to know of a fellow animal lover that has a very soft spot for animals that have been abandoned or mistreated. Thank you, Sean! By the way, I am a new reader of yours and very much enjoy your stories. Keep up the good work!
Wanda in Alabama
Peggy Savage - March 10, 2019 10:22 am
So glad you shared this memory with us. Thank you. .
Karen - March 10, 2019 10:54 am
My husband is a dog whisperer, too. All of our dogs become “his” dogs. They just are drawn to him. I think they just know , instinctively, how much he loves them. I can tell that you have that same heart for dogs. You make us all love you more each day.
Jean - March 10, 2019 11:05 am
All old dogs deserve a mention and a place in heaven. I love fur babies.
Carolyn Kelley - March 10, 2019 11:23 am
Kelly - March 10, 2019 11:32 am
Your dog stories are the best! Thank you!
Cathi - March 10, 2019 12:03 pm
Dogs deserve every tribute we can give because we don’t deserve them.
Melanie - March 10, 2019 2:25 pm
Where would we be without our beloved dogs. Thank you for opening your heart Sean ❤️
Jamie Byers - March 10, 2019 4:42 pm
Sean, knowing my wife will not see this (hopefully), a dog is truly a man’s best friend. They love you no matter what, good or bad. Thank you for sharing your love of God’s gift to man: dogs!
Jack Darnell - March 10, 2019 5:17 pm
Dogs have a way of tugging at your heart, and for me, especially strays. When I retire I hope one finds me.
love from a beautiful day in Central Florida.
Sherry & jack
judy brand - March 10, 2019 5:20 pm
. A stray cat took up here at the house. My two cats tolerate him and my dog wants to eat him but he (the cat) continues to hang around. Quess now I have three cats and one dog.
Shelton A. - March 10, 2019 7:32 pm
I’d love to find a good dog. I’ve tried 2 replacements from the Humane Society-both had biting issues. I’d give my eye teeth for a good dog and companion. You told that story to tell us what kind of good hearts (including yourself) people have when it comes to animals. Keep up the good work, Sean.
Linda Chipman - March 10, 2019 9:23 pm
I think every dog deserves at least a few words. There are no bad dogs – only bad people.
Susan - March 10, 2019 9:34 pm
God love you and that dog!! Thank you!
Nell Thomas - March 10, 2019 10:10 pm
Sounds like my Jessie girl that I helped rescue several months ago. I just had a feeling about her.
Could not really afford to keep her but she hasn’t missed a meal yet – neither have I. She and I pray together everyday that God will help me take care of her. I love all animals and will fight to the bitter end for them. If I see they are about to be mistreated- I can put it in “Mama Bear” mode jet speed.
Great story, Sean. Glad you got off track to tell it.
Nell Thomas - March 10, 2019 10:15 pm
Jessie is a black lab.
Charaleen Wright - March 11, 2019 4:55 am
robert - March 13, 2019 6:35 pm
Strays make the best of friends for a dog owner because they know you have rescued them and provided the love they were missing.
Mary Ellen Hall - March 13, 2019 10:19 pm
ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS STORY SEAN!!!
I TOO LOVE “STRAYS!!” I TRULY BELIEVE SOMETIMES they are the BEST PETS-SO APPRECIATIVE!!!
THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR STORY!!!??
Mary Ann Massey - April 7, 2019 12:36 pm
Love it! I have 2 dogs and would have a kennel full except for a very small yard…. they love freely and openly and I truly dread the day when either of them go to puppy heaven ….. thank you Sean for sharing this precious part of your life…❤️?❤️?