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Where do you come from’ Sarah gazed into the soulful grey eyes of the small dog that had appeared in front of her as she weeded the front garden. The little dog wriggled as if to acknowledge his pleasure at her noticing him.
‘Come on then, lets have a look to see who you are’. She felt around the tiny neck of the wiry haired animal and found a narrow worn red collar but nothing more. Sarah got up off her knees slowly and arched her back to ease the discomfort she felt at being on her knees for the last hour and brushed her damp grey hair back off her face. She walked to the front gate and shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight looked up and down the street expecting to see an anxious owner looking for their little dog but no one was in sight. She stepped back into the shade, almost knocking the little dog over as he scampered up behind her.
“Hey, watch where you’re going’. The dog gave a high pitched bark as she carefully avoided stepping on its paws. It was a hot day and Sarah didn’t need an excuse to go inside to the coolness of her homely little kitchen. As if reading her thoughts the dog followed her. She took a small bowl from the cupboard and the dog looked up expectantly as she ran some cold water in it. He drank greedily pushing the small bowl around the floor. Sarah smiled at the his antics as she walked over to the bench and picked up the telephone.
After several calls around the neighborhood it was becoming clear that the little dog didn’t live nearby. Sarah glanced at the clock and saw that it was about an hour before she would have to prepare her evening meal and decided she had time to go down to the local supermarket to place a ‘found’ advert on the notice board.
She glanced in the rear vision mirror as she drove and noted the little dog was quite at home in the back seat. She began to wonder what kind of people owned this dog, did he belong to a family or was he a companion for someone like herself. Since becoming a widow five years ago she had often thought about getting a pet but had kept putting it off knowing that she wouldn’t be able to go away from home easily without making arrangements for someone else to look after it, then there was the cost of vet’s fees. After her husband’s death she had been left with a home of her own but only the superanuation to support herself which didn’t leave a lot to spend on extras.
Pulling in to the parking lot she decided to leave the little dog inside the car. She dropped the window down a fraction to let in some air.
Once inside the store she walked over to the notice board glancing quickly along the rows of handwritten notices but didn’t see anything that looked helpful so picking up a small white card began to write.
‘Sorry, I couldn’t help noticing but I see you’ve found a dog’. The attractive young girl wearing the standard blue uniform of the supermarket staff smiled at Sarah.
‘I certainly have, do you know someone who’s lost one?’ Sarah looked up with surprise as the girl spoke.
‘Well I know there was an elderly gentleman in here today telling us that he hadn’t been able to find his dog for two days. Apparently he thinks it may have got out of the gate and lost its way’
‘What kind of dog was it did he say?’
‘No but he was pretty upset’
Sarah put the pen back in her bag and screwed the notice up.
‘How can I get in touch with him?’
‘Well I do know his name but I’ll have to ask the manager if it’s all right to tell you, sorry, privacy and all that’
Sarah checked her watch and thought about the little dog in the car. She started to move towards the door and said
‘Will you please ask and I’ll just go back to the car to check on the dog, it’s a bit hot out there’
Seeing that the dog was all right Sarah made her way quickly back into the store and searched around for the girl she had been speaking to.
It wasn’t long before she observed a young man striding towards her.
I’m Sarah Gladding’
The young man held out his hand in greeting and said
‘I’m Mark Tilley the store manager’
Sarah gave him all the details about the dog and how it came to be in her possession and as she relayed the story a broad smile crossed the man’s face.
‘The dog belongs to my father and he will be so pleased to know Scruffy has come to no harm’
‘Scruffy, is that his name, she laughed as she thought about the little dog she had come to quite like. The name suits him!’
‘Look, I have to work tonight until 8 pm but I’ll ring Dad and get him to come and pick Scruffy up from your house, where do you live?’
Sarah began to give her address but changed her mind and said
‘Why don’t you give me your Dad’s address and I’ll give him a nice surprise by taking Scruffy to him.’
After thanking her profusely the young man gave Sarah all the details she would need to find his father.
After a short drive just a few streets from where she herself lived she came to a row of tidy brick units in groups of two. She pulled up outside No 43a and shut the engine off. As if he knew he was home the little dog scrambled out of the car and ran toward the front door. Sarah followed but by the time she had put her finger on the doorbell the door opened and the dog almost threw itself at the tall man standing in the doorway.
‘Scruffy, you’ve come home!’ tears started to well up in the old man’s eyes as he cradled the dog in his arms.
‘Come in, come in’ he reached out to take Sarah’s arm and drew her in to the entrance hall.
Sarah allowed herself to be welcomed into his home. After they had introduced themselves Sarah brought Eric Tilley up to date on all that had happened and told him a little bit about herself. Scruffy in the meantime had found his way to his comfy bed and settled down as if he had never been away from home.
After two cups of tea and lots of friendly banter Sarah realised that it was getting late and she got up from her chair.
‘I really should be going but I’m pleased that you and Scruffy are reunited Mr Tilley’
‘Call me Eric and, if I may, I’d like to call you Sarah’ Eric took Sarah’s hand in his own and she knew she had found a new friend. ‘Why don’t you come for dinner tomorrow night by way of a thank you. I’m not much of a cook but you won’t go hungry’
Sarah happily accepted his invitation with a promise to be there at 5 pm the next day.
After dinner that night she had a quick inspection of her wardrobe to decide what she should wear for the dinner date. She took out her best blue dress with the dark blue sash and held it in front of her in the mirror. That would do very nicely she thought, and told herself that she didn’t look bad for a seventy five year old.
‘Come in Sarah, my goodness I think Scruffy is as delighted to see you as I am’. Eric picked up the dog so he wouldn’t jump all over his visitor but Sarah greeted both of them enthusiastically taking the little dog from his arms.
‘I had a letter from my daughter in Sydney today’ Eric handed Sarah a glass of wine as she settled herself into the armchair. ‘She wants me to pack up and go over there to live with them’. He studied the reaction on his visitor’s face.
‘Do you want to go? Sarah couldn’t keep a small feeling of disappointment out of her voice.
‘Well, it’s been a bit of a lonely life since my wife died, just me and the dog. The evenings are the worst, no one to share the day’s happenings with’.
‘I know what you mean but still, it’s a big decision’ Sarah took a sip of her wine and waited to see what Eric would say next.
‘Mind you, no rush really’ his still handsome face broke into a smile as he leaned over to cover Sarah’s hand with his own. Scruffy snuggled deeper into his bed and made an audible sigh.
‘I’ll drink to that’ she replied.