Each day I sit down at my desk, switch on the computer and peer into the abyss.
The news of the day is generally filled with tales of human greed, corruption, malice, depravity, plain old selfishness and poor manners. There’s no end to it.
This continuous stream of humanity’s failings is enough to leave even the sunniest optimist among us cynical and sad.
But every now and then I am reminded again of how kind people are, and my faith is restored.
Which leads me to this past weekend. We had been asked to dog-sit for some friends, something that we do from time to time when the folks we know need a dog-friendly home while they away.
We already have three dogs, two rabbits and a couple of resilient goldfish, so another dog or two doesn’t make much difference. My wife generally coordinates the comings and goings of the canine visitations, so I tend to find out about them about 15 minutes after the dog arrives, but it’s really not a worry of mine. We like doing it.
So, on Friday afternoon I wasn’t surprised at all to learn we were keeping a couple of extra pooches for the night when I called home. I was surprised, however, to learn that one of them was already missing.
I could tell from the tone of my wife’s voice, before she explained anything, that something was terribly wrong. Apparently, one of our sons had let the dogs – ours and theirs – out for bathroom break, but not all came back in.
It had already been about three hours since anyone had seen, Dusty, – about 10 pounds of gruff, little old man stuffed inside a 2-pound Yorkshire terrier.
Dusty was on daily regimen of several medications that had to be administered morning and night. It was getting dark, the temperature was falling and my wife and son were in a panic. I got home as quick as physics and a 6-cylinder combustion engine would allow.
We were roaming neighborhood streets with flashlights until after 11 p.m., whistling and calling for the poor little guy, without hearing a whimper of a reply.
Since it is 2014, our plight was quickly posted to Facebook. Neighbors took to the streets, even those we had never met before. A small break came late Friday, when a person on our street finally said they had seen Dusty that afternoon, headed toward a fence that marked the boundary to another subdivision.
We headed there, but the streets were dark and silent and the few people who were awake at that hour had not seen our dog. Eventually, we returned home, exhausted and dispirited. My wife made posters to be put up the next day and prayed. We both did.
I stood out in the driveway for a while, looked up at the stars overhead and sent up a prayer to keep the little dog safe and warm, and to return him to us and his home.
The next morning, while I was sticking posters on every telephone pole I could find, a neighbor phoned to say Dusty had been spotted in the next neighborhood away and that she thought someone had him.
Fifteen minutes later, I had him back in my hands. Dusty had been taken care of by not one, but several nice folks who knew someone had to be looking for him. He was fed and slept in a warm bed with a little girl, not curled up under a bush in the cold, as we had feared.
I’m sure all those people who helped in our hour of need thought nothing of it. We thanked them profusely, and even brought over some homemade muffins later than afternoon as a little gift, but really in the end, they seemed just as happy as we were that Dusty was back where he belonged.
These people are the kind, decent folk that surround us all the time, people we tend to forget about as we are inundated by the daily reports of crime, politics and meaningless celebrity gossip.
But they are always there, and I’m quite glad to be reminded of it as often as possible. Thanks to you all. You know who you are.