"Maybe We Rescued A Newf After All"
The trip south went well; the autumn weather was perfect, and our plan progressed without a hitch. We spoke to Lisa on Wednesday to get directions and check for any last-minute news. She told us she'd be picking Abbie up at her partner Sandi's place the next day and would have her ready for us on Friday, as planned.
On Friday morning, October 15, we arrived at the kennel at ten sharp. We knocked at the front door, and after a moment, Lisa stuck her head out an upstairs window. "I'm not ready yet," she yelled down. "Could you just look around outside for a few minutes?"
Amused but not upset, we took up the invitation. The kennel facility was a large, garagelike building, with a set of outside runs enclosed by chain link fence. The four pens held a total of fourteen dogs, all but one a Newfie. There did not seem to be much in the way of shade for the dogs, and I hoped that they were not left there in the midday sun.
Lisa emerged after a few minutes, and invited us into the house. There were several more dogs indoors, including a Landseer confined to a crate. Could this be Abbie? No, we were told; Abbie was in the garage.
On seeing Abbie for the first time, I was struck with two things: she was beautiful... and she was a mess. Her face was incredibly sweet, and her markings were gorgeous. But oh, my Lord, I thought, hasn't anyone been looking after her?
This was not just a dog who'd been having fun and getting into the mud; this was a dog who'd been neglected for a long time. Her coat was a mass of tangles and thick felt mats, and on her back legs, something that looked suspiciously like fecal matter.
Lisa caught our glance, and grew flustered. She doesn't normally let her dogs get like that, she quickly explained, but she hadn't had time to groom Abbie after picking her up at Sandi's place. She felt so bad about it, she told us, that she was willing to knock fifty dollars off the price to pay for a session at the groomer's.
Remembering her sad tale about her disabled husband and her tough life, I made the mistake of feeling sorry for her. "A deal's a deal," I replied, declining the offer.
We brought Abbie inside and shared small talk for a few minutes over coffee. At one point, Lisa mentioned a recent divorce. "So much for the disabled husband," I thought to myself. Things weren't quite adding up.
A bigger surprise came when we moved to conclude the deal. Having bought pedigreed dogs from established breeders before, I expected there'd be a contract for us to sign, registration papers for us to take home. There was nothing of the sort today.
Do you have her registration papers? No, we were told, Sandi has them. But I'll mail them to you.
Medical records? No, but I'll get them to you.
Do you have a contract for us to sign? There's no need for a contract, came the reply.
That was too much for Susan. "Let's write up a bill of sale, then."
Lisa rummaged around, and found a pad of stationery, then quickly scrawled a receipt.
I wrote out the check, and exchanged it for the bill of sale. I folded the piece of paper, stuck it in my wallet, and gave it little thought for several weeks. When next it came to mind, I was profoundly grateful for my wife's prescience.
Okay, that's it, then. Abbie, want to get in the car? That's right, sweetheart, you can come home with us. Lisa, we'll watch the mail for those papers. Awfully nice meeting you... we'll keep in touch.
As we pulled out of the driveway, I reached back and ran my hands through Abbie's matted fur, looked over at my wife, and said, "You know, I think maybe we rescued a Newfie after all."
I was wrong. We'd rescued a dozen of them.
Next: "I Assure You She's Not Pregnant"
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