The Stray — a Photostory

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I was reclining in a comfy gray beanbag chair, reading a magazine and listening to the drip-drip of melting snow, when Eve Cortez breezed past me and out the door. Gone to play in the snow, no doubt. I would have joined her, but reading sounded like a much better pastime then romping around in the glaring snow and tossing snowballs at each other.

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Ten minutes later, the door flew open and Eve barged into the house in a flurry of mix-n-match snow clothes. She was breathing hard. “Molly, Molly!” she shouted. “You’re the animal girl in the house, right?” At my nod, she exclaimed, “I found a dog out in the snow, and I think he’s hurt!”

A dog?

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I lurched to my feet, throwing my magazine to the floor. “Quick, Eve, bring him in!” I ordered.

She dashed back outside to retrieve the dog.

I paced nervously while I waited for Eve to return. What if it was one of our dogs? What if I didn’t know how to help it?

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Eve burst back into the house, carrying a wet dog with shaggy brown fur. She set him down on the carpet and waved me over.

I hurried toward them, crouching next the dog. He was limping. I stroked his damp head with one hand while gingerly brushing my fingers over his injured leg with the other. He whimpered at my touch.

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“We’re going to need some cloth to tie around his leg,” I told Eve. “Anything will do until we can find some sterile wrap.”

Eve whipped off her thin tie dyed scarf. “Will this do?”

I nodded eagerly and took the scarf from her.

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I instructed Eve to comfort the dog while I wound the scarf around his leg. Eve was surprisingly good at it: she pet the dog and talked to it in a sweet, soft voice the whole time. “I’m going to call you Pete,” she giggled, ruffling his fur.

“He probably belongs to someone,” I said distractedly as I tied the knot, “so I wouldn’t name him. We don’t want to get too attached to him, because we’ll just have to give him back.”

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Eve sighed. “But Pete is such a cute name . . .”

Pete barked and licked Eve’s cheek.

I sat back on my heels and surveyed my work. The cloth was wrapped tightly around the dog’s leg, but not so tight that he would lose circulation. Perfect. “Does he have any tags?” I asked.

Eve looked under his thick hair for a collar, but didn’t find one. She shook her head.

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Eve and I designed posters with Pete’s picture on them, announcing that a dog had been found. We asked the owner of the dog to contact us so we could return him. I printed a stack of the posters for Eve and I to tape to trees around town.

I must admit that I wanted to keep Pete. He was so cute! But he probably belonged to someone, and his owner must be worried sick.

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While I was pulling on my hat, gloves, boots, and jacket, I glanced at Eve. She was cooing sweet nothings to Pete. I couldn’t help but think about how scared she must be. She was staying with complete strangers and her parents were on another continent. I couldn’t imagine how terrified she must be. “Hey, Eve?” I began.

She looked up at me. “Yeah?”

“If it turns out that Pete doesn’t have an owner — that he’s stray — would you like to keep him as a pet?”

Eve squealed, hugging Pete. The dog barked happily. She exclaimed, “Thank you, Molly! I’d love that.”

I grinned at her and opened the door. Then Eve, Pete, and I trudged out into the snow.

 -Molly-