Several years ago, our family rented a house that had a basement apartment under ours. The young couple who lived below us were quiet and unobtrusive. Their dog, however, was not.
Cody was a typical black lab; a big, tail thumping extrovert. He loved to greet us by planting his huge paws on our chest. Our dog Tasha, an English Setter mix, was a kindred spirit. Because she shared the yard with Cody, they soon became fast friends.
We often saw a blur of black and white fur as they raced neck and neck toward some hapless bird that had just landed in their territory. The only time I saw any conflict between the two dogs was when we fed Tasha. Cody would bound up, expecting to share in Tasha’s bounty. However, Tasha would bare her teeth and growl menacingly.
Cody would change his strategy, dropping to his belly and inching slowly toward Tasha’s dish. But this ingratiating behavior did not impress Tasha. The closer Cody got, the more Tasha snarled and snapped. Finally, Cody would slink away with his tail between his legs—until next mealtime, that is. Then Cody, ever the optimist, would replay the scene, with the same disappointing conclusion.
One day my husband Jeff came home visibly upset. He had just found Cody lying by the side of the road, killed by a speeding truck. Tasha sniffed at Cody’s glossy black fur and whined. Over the next few weeks, Tasha was listless, her tail drooping. She obviously missed her old friend.
At the same time, Tasha’s food dish disappeared. We replaced it with another, only to have that one vanish as well. There followed a steady succession of bowls, aluminum plates, even an old coffee can. They all disappeared. Finally, the mystery was solved when our neighbor knocked on our door, her arms loaded with the missing dishes, some still half-full of dog food.
“Are these yours?” she asked.When Jeff and I nodded, she explained, “I saw Tasha headed toward the road, so I shooed her back. Then I noticed all these dishes in a pile.”
Puzzled, I asked, “Where were they?”
“Well, you know,” she answered thoughtfully, “it was right by the place where Cody died. Isn’t that odd? Surely Tasha couldn’t…” Her voice trailed off in confusion.
Jeff and I exchanged glances. Could Tasha have been enticing her old friend back by offering him the one thing she withheld from him when he was alive? Even today, retelling the story gives me goose bumps. It raises questions about animals’ intelligence and emotions.
It also reminds me not to wait to show love to those around me. I need to share whatever blessings I’ve received with others—before it’s too late.