DeVos: Surely that’s not ours
January 8, 2015
It was a dark and stormy night. We were late to meet our connection at an abandoned K-Mart parking lot in Southeast Denver. After crawling through a seedy neighborhood we found the place, pulled in and stopped. The lot hadn't been plowed for several storms and the bare expanse was dotted with spindly, alien-necked lampposts. One in four was lit, casting a ghostly pall over the desolate mega-store.
At the dim edge of the empty lot there was a white windowless van, "That's gotta be the guy," I said, "no backing out now."
"Nope," my wife said, "let's go do it."
I pulled slowly towards the van, jostling over the icy ruts, finally pulling alongside. I nodded at the driver. He nodded back and got out. I met him behind the car. He stuck out his hand, "Hi, I'm Ernie, the volunteer transport driver for Mountain Pet Rescue. This one's yours.
"She's a lot smaller than most dogs we place in the mountains. Hawks, you know. Uh, let's see," he said, checking his list, "she is a dumpster-diver and runs away a lot. OK, bye now, I got lots more dogs to deliver," he shouted as he roared away in a cloud of snowy exhaust.
"Uh, Ernie?" I said, watching the van grow smaller, "Ernie?"
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My wife and I looked down at the mutt staring back up at us. Almost in one voice we said, "Surely this can't be our dog. Ernie?"
The van careened out of sight around a corner, "I don't think I could catch him," I said.
We stood there in the snow, mutt straining at the leash, heading for a distant dumpster. We plunked her in the back seat and sat for a while with the heater running.
My wife spoke first, "I feel like I just had a date with a guy who posted a picture of Clark Gable on Craigslist. This doesn't look like any dog we'd have."
"It's a weird cross between a Slinky and a Chihuahua," I added.
When we got home, Freeta Goodhome, our basset hound, took one look, went to bed covering her eyes with both ears and chalked it up to a bad dream.
The next morning, just before dawn, I was down on all fours outside in Fraser, freezing and trying to convince our reluctant new dog that she should come through the dog door and out into the fenced yard. Finally, after a half hour, she'd consumed about two pounds of doggy treats and ran away. By this time I had frostbite on both knees and a nasty ear wound from one of the flaps, but on the other hand, I'd finally taught the new dog to hide behind the couch. I struggled to my feet and wiped the ice off my face, shivering so hard I could hardly open the door to get back inside.
My wife was standing there, hands-on-hips, "Where's the new dog?" she said, "Why are you all blue?"
"I've been trying to get the new dog to go out," I said. As if on cue, the mutt blasted through the dog door behind me.
"We can't keep calling her the new dog," my wife said, "She needs a name."
"How about first impressions?" I asked, "What's the first thing that went through your head when you very first saw her?"
She looked at me, "Well, didn't we both say, 'Surely this isn't our dog?'" I looked back at her and slowly we nodded in agreement.
And that's how we got Surely. We don't call her the new dog anymore.
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