Short for Houdini.
Last night around six, there was still plenty of light outside. Buck and I were studying an atlas researching routes to take for a trip to Montana and Wyoming in early November, when I noticed he was looking past me into the fenced backyard. “Who’s that?” he said, and was on his feet. “Where’s Maggie?” he said, almost tripping over her on his way out the door.
I looked, and saw the object of his consternation. A young black dog, a semi-Labrador, was inside the fence. After a short, sharp conversation with Buck he left. Buck returned to the couch. Two or three minutes later, the dog was back. Replay same tape. A few minutes later, I looked out the window behind Buck — it’s outside the fenced area — and there he sat, up on the concrete pad that serves as a base for our generator. He was staring in the window, right at Buck. Once he saw he had my attention, he turned his golden eyes on me.
“We’re doomed,” I muttered. Looking him over, I admired his upright posture, cocked head with ears in that friendly, alert lab sort of way. Although he had some huge feet and long legs, he was clearly just a young pup, maybe 3 or 4 months old. A little patch of white just under his chin and a streak of white on his chest. Didn’t look wormy, although he probably was. No collar.
Buck said, “He’s got pluck.”
Uh oh. That’s code for “Can we keep him, huh, can we?”
By this time, the pup had taken up a position on the small back porch off the laundry room. He was lying there in that “I’m a big dog I can protect you” way.
I reported this to Buck. We continued to pretend he wasn’t there. A few more minutes went by.
“He wants some food. Do you have any leftovers?” Buck looked at me like I’d been starving the poor dog.
“I have dry dog food — Maggie’s food.”
“That’ll do,” he said.
You know what happened then. Maggie never moved from her comfortable mat while I filled one plastic dish with food and the other with water, opened the door and fed him. He ate up the food, then stopped to sit in front of me, head up with adoring eyes. I put a hand on either side of his face and stroked him. Anthropomorphism be damned, that little guy just radiated joy. The he rolled over onto his back, wiggling all over, just a puppy.
I sneaked out to the laundry room this morning about 6 a.m. to see if he was still there, halfway hoping he was and halfway hoping he wasn’t. There he was, curled up on the doormat. I’ll make a few calls today to folks down the road, but this isn’t suburbia. He was most likely a drop-off.
Deeno enjoyed his breakfast.