The Visitor

She was a waitress. A widowed young mother with a four-year-old daughter.

Her shift was almost done. She was tossing garbage into a dumpster behind the restaurant. She heard something. Whimpering.

She saw a shape in the shadows. She saw four legs. Long ears. It was a stray, and it was hungry. She almost turned around and went back inside. But she didn’t.

The last thing she needed in her life was a dog. She was too busy with a daughter to be bringing home more responsibility. But when this dog looked at her…

Well, you know how dogs are.

She fed him leftovers. The old boy ate his food in only a few bites, and he didn’t run when she pet him.

He was brindle-colored, with a white face. He let her place a leash around his neck. She was going to take him to the shelter, the first thing in the morning, that’s what she told herself. But once she brought him home all bets were off.

Her daughter named the dog “Dave.”

They placed Dave in the shower. They used expensive shampoo on him, and lavender conditioner. Dave sneezed when they blow-dried him.

That night, she didn’t sleep much. She could see Dave’s silhouette in the darkness, staring at her. She caved.

“You wanna get in bed with us, Dave?”

She patted the bed once. He was beside her before she patted a second time.

“I’ve never really been a dog person,” she tells me. “But Dave just looked at you with that face, and you just fell in love. You know how dogs are.”

Yes. I do.

Dave wore a green collar. He loved to run. They tell me when he was off his leash he could sprint all the way to China and still make it home in time for supper.

That Christmas, Dave rode with them to visit her parents. The whole family doted on the animal. They bought him presents. Her mother even knitted Dave a sweater. He became family.

For eight Christmases, Dave was beside them. It was Dave who bid them goodbye before work and school. He waited in the den each evening for them to return. He shared their pillows, their sofa, and watched television with them.

But nothing lasts forever. Not even dogs.

Earlier this year, Dave ran into the street. He was hit by a van. He suffered internal bleeding. So she made a decision on Dave’s behalf that nobody wants to make. She cried for weeks after they buried him.

This year has been a difficult one.

But three weeks ago, things sort of changed. She was out for a walk. She was strolling through an upscale subdivision down the street from her. Her daughter saw a sign by the road.

“Free puppies,” the sign read.

She knocked on the door. She was taken into a garage. There, she found a litter of pups romping on the floor, chewing on their own ears, making yellow puddles. The mother of the litter was black.

But the puppies were brindle.

She asked the owner about their coloring. The owner told her that several months earlier, a brindle male in a green collar had shown up in their backyard. And the rest was history.

She finishes telling me the story with a few tears in her eyes. “Dave was the father of the litter,” she said, laughing. “We had no idea, that little rascal.”

The woman leads me to the laundry room where they introduce me to a puppy with a marbled coat of brown.

“This is Dave Jr.,” says the daughter.

The puppy crawls into my arms and falls asleep. This holiday will be his first Christmas. Dave Jr. already has nine presents under the tree. Nine.

“It’s funny,” the woman tells me. “I was never a dog person before, but one dog changed my whole life.”

Well.

You know how dogs are.

29 comments

  1. Susan Kennedy - November 26, 2018 8:24 am

    Everyone needs a Dave in their life. 💙

    Reply
  2. Janet Mary Lee - November 26, 2018 8:28 am

    Oh dang..I saw that coming..But beautiful sensitive story. We know dogs all right..God backwards..They are loyal, unselfish loving gifts. I know dogs go to heaven..all of them! And there is a special place for those whose life was hard as well as those who knew love…and loved. If only humankind were as learned. Thank you for the tears!!

    Reply
  3. Brenda Nowicki - November 26, 2018 8:35 am

    Yes!! I know! It was love at first sight! Walmart parking lot, 300.00 later and Gracie Rene was mine!! She’s 8 now. Thank you for another wonderful ending to my day Sean!! Gracie is ready for me to carry her to bed. It got cold in East Texas tonight! I look forward to hearing from you tomorrow! Tell Jamie hello and give Thelma and Otis hugs for me!

    Reply
  4. GaryD - November 26, 2018 9:51 am

    When our dog of 12 years died we said there was no way we could ever replace her because she wasn’t a pet. She was family. Then 2 years later we found two abandoned kittens in our tool shed. Eyes weren’t even open. My wife bottle fed them for over a month. I didn’t want a cat so we decided we would wean them then find good homes for them. We gave one to our grandkids. Yep, we kept the other one. The cat I didn’t want is sleeping at the foot of the bed. She’s family now.

    Reply
  5. Kelly - November 26, 2018 10:24 am

    God love you for the dog stories! I’ve had a dog in my life since I was a toddler and I don’t want to imagine if any other way. They are one of God’s greatest gifts.

    Reply
  6. Marlene T - November 26, 2018 10:58 am

    Yep I know how dogs are. My husband and I have our 5th stray dog. After each one we said no more but you know how dogs are. Our dogs have traveled more than a lot of people and have watched sunsets all over this country with us. Beautiful sunsets. One look in their eyes and they’re home. You know how dogs eyes are so hopeful. Thanks for being my favorite Chip Monk. Keep up the excellent work. I am so proud of what you do and we all get so much enjoyment. Tell sweet Jamie to hug you for me.

    Reply
  7. Cathi - November 26, 2018 11:27 am

    I am grateful every day my parents allowed us to have dogs. I can’t imagine my life without at least one in it. Because you know how dogs are. Thank you Sean for another good one!

    Reply
  8. Sherry - November 26, 2018 11:32 am

    Thank you….

    Reply
  9. Jean - November 26, 2018 11:38 am

    You know heartache when you have to make the decision to put your dog or cat down. True heartbreak…..Those babies have wormed their way into your heart and your life. Those who have never loved a dog or cat are missing a big part of life.

    Reply
  10. Ted - November 26, 2018 11:46 am

    I sure do.. my favorite puppy just spent a week with us over Thanksgiving.. so sad dropping her off at her owners last night..

    Reply
  11. Connie Havard Ryland - November 26, 2018 12:26 pm

    Yes, I know how dogs are. I’ve never been one of those people who loves their dogs like a child. Until one day my granddaughter and I were walking through the shelter and this lost little mixed dog laid his head in my hand. He’s asleep in my lap now, while I should be getting ready for work. A year later we adopted another little rescue, that weighed less than a pound. She’s sleeping on top of him. They took over our house and our hearts.

    Reply
  12. Michael F. Guilday - November 26, 2018 12:50 pm

    I read this with my Cockalier (look it up) sitting in my lap as she does every morning when I read my social media and drink my coffee. My wife and I, in 30 years of marriage, had never had a dog until Molly came into our life. Sean, you are so right, they do change your life. Molly changed ours. She is scheduled for surgery next week. I am dreading next weed.

    Reply
  13. Jack Darnell - November 26, 2018 2:08 pm

    Daddy was a preacher. We moved. I hated it, leaving my buddies and friends. I pouted I was in the 3rd grade. Then one day daddy & mama came home from visiting Aunt Ann. Jackie, go out in the car and bring that box in the back seat into the house. I drug my feet to the car, opened the door heard whimpering, looked in the box. A Black Puppy. I ran into the house with the puppy, yelling ‘Is he mine?’ And Ace changed my life. Yeah I know how dogs are!!!
    Thanks dude yo done good.

    Reply
  14. Shelton Armour - November 26, 2018 2:50 pm

    I do know how dogs are…thanks be to God for dogs. Great story…I’m sure Dave, Jr will become a member of the family, too.

    Reply
  15. Carol - November 26, 2018 3:09 pm

    Yes I do.
    I’m alone and I have Two. Little furbabies and you know I’ve given up trips and other things because they couldn’t go and no kennel was I going to send them too !
    They were rescue babies. And their mine now and their gonna know it. Cause momma love’s ya ❤️❤️!
    Love ya!!

    Reply
  16. Laurie Wasilewski - November 26, 2018 3:13 pm

    OMG, I can’t stop crying. Good crying, of course. Thanks, Sean! 🙂

    Reply
  17. Betty - November 26, 2018 3:41 pm

    I never had a dog growing up but when I got married & we got our first house with a fenced yard that changed. My husband came home from work one day with what our neighbor called a “really ugly dog.” I thought he was adorable. He got him from a man a work who told him he had meant to give him a different one but when he got home all that was left was the runt of the litter. He was the best dog every. My mother-in-law made him a pillow to sleep on & quilt to lie on….when he wasn’t sleeping in bed with us. My dad sent him money in the mail to buy his favorite snacks with. He had his picture taken every year in his Santa outfit & sent out Christmas cards. I found his mailing list the other day & there were 70 names on it. One year I left off some people I didn’t think were really interested but heard about it later. He lived 14 years. We’ve never gotten another dog but have always had plenty around. We seem to be dog magnets. When we lived in a motor home for 8 years everywhere we stopped the dogs in the campground would find us. When we bought a house in the country, intending to build a fence so we could have a dog, we found we didn’t need it. The neighbor had 2 or 3 dogs at all times & they made our home their home when their family was at work or school, & even after if they were to busy to play with them. Thanks for bringing back such good memories.

    Reply
  18. Barbara-Jean Gravlee - November 26, 2018 3:44 pm

    Love, love, Love! Always wished our Buffy had had puppies. 💓

    Reply
  19. Edna B. - November 26, 2018 6:08 pm

    I just can’t imagine life without a dog by my side. My little guy rescued me when he was six years old. He’s now almost thirteen and is a source of joy for me every single day. I love today’s story. Thank you Sean, and you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  20. Marty from Alabama - November 26, 2018 9:05 pm

    I sure do❤️🐶.

    Reply
  21. Joy Johnson - November 26, 2018 9:25 pm

    Max was a rescue poodle who the vet told us would probably not live past 3. I loved that dog as much as I have ever loved anything. He lived til 10 years and I will never stop missing him. Then our Cockapoo,Molly, died at 16 and I still cry when I look at their pictures. There is no love any stronger than than that of a dog!

    Reply
  22. Susan - November 26, 2018 9:56 pm

    Love!

    Reply
  23. Steve Winfield - November 26, 2018 10:16 pm

    Jack was a 4 month old coon hound pup, my neighbor had just got him. He came over every day to play with my dog. Moved right in & neighbor didn’t care. 20 yrs later buried him out back. I’d guess he had many kids, just never met em.

    Reply
  24. Dru - November 27, 2018 6:38 am

    Wonderful story, Sean!

    Reply
  25. Susan Self - November 27, 2018 2:23 pm

    The black and white hound mix stray sat in my yards for days. By the time I decided he could stay he had learned his name. “Get” became my heart and my buddy. I loved that dog. Broke my year to lose him years later.

    Reply
  26. Susan Self - November 27, 2018 2:26 pm

    Broke my heart. Not year.

    Reply
  27. Mary Ellen Hall - November 27, 2018 4:16 pm

    Such a VERY SWEET STORY Sean!! A dog TRULY DOES change your life; & when you lose one, it BREAKS YOUR HEART!!🐶
    THANK YOU for this DEAR STORY, Sean!!!💙

    Reply
  28. Alice Grimes - November 27, 2018 4:49 pm

    I really hope you have the time to read the comments to see what an impact you have on lives. Yes, I do know how dogs are. I have two of those hairy children!

    Reply
  29. dogsdolls - November 29, 2018 3:42 am

    oh yes I know all about how dogs are and that they only live forever in our hearts. Said goodbye to my sweet boy the first of August. Have not had the heart to adopt yet…but I will. There are too many out there in need of love and homes.

    Reply

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