Once upon a time there was a dog — a German shepherd, to be precise. We called her Hunter. She was much like “Tramp” in the movie “Lady and the Tramp.” She lived not at one residence but had many homes where she was sheltered, fed and loved. Ours was one of those homes.
Hunter would grace us with her presence whenever she wished and when she did, food would magically appear in her doggie bowl. Other times she found more satisfying meals elsewhere, staying away for more than a week on occasion. But when she was around, Hunter was definitely “our dog.”
As happens in the movie, so it happened here: now and again, the evil dog catcher would come around looking for stray dogs. Whenever this occurred, we would send the children out to get Hunter and make sure she stayed in our yard. This always seemed to work.
But one day we realized Hunter hadn’t come around for several weeks. We checked with the neighbors and at some of her other “residences” but no one seemed to have seen Hunter. We checked every animal shelter in the area but to no avail. Hunter was gone.
At first there was a lot of blaming: “Well, if you wouldn’t have forgotten to feed her. . . Well, if you had played with her more. . . If you had just kept her in the yard this would not have happened!”
Then the mourning began. “I miss Hunter. . . I hope she is okay. . . I wonder where she is right now.” We all felt the loss and it weighed on us heavily. Hunter wasn’t there to accompany us on our walks. We missed seeing her on the lawn, rolling onto to her back to coax someone to scratch her tummy and ears. Hunter was no longer there when guests arrived, first startling them with her size and then winning them over with her gentle ways. We thought we’d never see Hunter again. We couldn’t bear imagining what had happened to her.
Six months passed. And then, one summer evening, we walked out onto the front porch and there she stood. The children were ecstatic! The shock was replayed as, one by one, other family members returned home. We all felt sheer gratitude. What a gift! What a blessing! Hunter was showered with love and affection. And wherever she’s been for these past months, Hunter appears to have been well taken care of!
This story ends like most fairy tales do: “And they all lived happily ever after. With Hunter.”