Early in my career, I seemed to find myself continually working weekends, covering the city centre road jobs which required the quiet of Sunday streets. It was on one such Sunday that “Lucky” came into my life.
She arrived around lunchtime. A black collie cross, she seemed happy enough and well nourished, but, being collarless in the city centre was cause for concern. All that afternoon she either followed me around, or lay at my assistant’s feet. Whenever we moved to our next location, she would too. By 6pm it was obvious that she was either lost, or recently abandoned, and that there was no way we could possibly leave her.
The easy option was to head over to the local police station. After filling in all the paperwork, the officer indicated that if the owner did not claim her in three days, she would be put down.
That seemed like a terribly short time for a worried owner to track her down. Of course, the idea that there was a worried owner out there seemed remote at best. We hadn’t moved far the entire day, and it was more than likely that anyone out searching would have come across the happy trio.
“What if we took her and found her a new home?” I asked, knowing a willing individual currently looking. Perfect match, too. He was an outdoorsman, whose job entailed being out and about in the countryside pretty much seven days a week. I’d just need to keep her for the next week, and take her down to my parents. They could deliver her to Tom for me the next time they went to the village.
“You would need to keep her for three months. If nobody claims her within that time, then you can keep her”.
Well, that made even less sense. We are responsible for her for the next three months, and would need to return her if her owner turned up two months and thirty days from now, despite the trauma of any bonding that would be inevitable over that time; yet you would put her to sleep after just three days?
We took her home. That was when she acquired the name “Lucky”. Of course, a dastardly plan was afoot. If the police came looking for her after her alloted three days, she could have run away!
Jon’s girlfriend was not keen. Neither was mine, but they already had a dog, so it seemed only reasonable that I’d keep her for the week. The first day, stupidly – I should have known better – we left her in the kitchen of our wee flat. I was working locally, and would return at lunchtime to take her for a walk.
Oh. My. Lord.
Unable to hang on, probably because of a refusal to do anything except sniff every tree, lamppost and doorway in the mile we walked at 6am, “Lucky” had “done her business” in the kitchen. She had then stood in it. Several times. The agitation of being left alone was writ large: in tiny, shitty footprints all over the walls, up the door, across the table and on every flat surface that she was able to leap onto.
The girlfriend never knew. I was extremely late back from lunch, whiffing slightly of dog poo and bleach, with a grinning “Lucky” in tow. For the rest of the week, we were never far apart, but talk of separation issues. I’d just need to be out of sight for a minute and the deed was done. In the back seat of the car. Outside the bathroom door. In the entrance hall to my office. On the “no pets allowed” landlord’s shoe…
So, it was with some relief, that I headed south that weekend. My mother was even less keen than my girlfriend. “What it Tom doesn’t want her? I’ve never allowed a working dog in here, and now I could be lumbered with a house dog?” I chose not to mention the separation anxiety issue…
By the end of her week in the country, however, “Lucky” had won over even my mother. Never once an accident (thank heavens for the country dog diet), and, never leaving each other’s side, the pair had bonded in a way that was completely unexpected.
Tom’s story, on the other hand, was not so pretty. Maybe she was a “woman’s dog” and needed my mother’s presence to feel comfortable and “at home”. Poor Tom had six months of nervous dog bowel before she learned to trust. They had a good twelve years together, never far apart, and it was Tom who went first. “Lucky” just pined away a week later, never having left her post, inside his front door, where she waited his return.
I like to think that her life, cosseted in her adopted rural village, where she was known and pampered by all, made up for that day, lost and confused in the city. Her original owners indifference became a real blessing for Tom, and indeed everyone who got to know “Lucky”.