The front door was wide open when I pulled into the driveway. That bothered me a little, mostly because I don’t pay money to cool the outside. There could have been a few explanations for it, though, so I delayed my panic.
I had left to run errands and pick up the girls and was just returning home. I was gone for two hours, maybe. Rob stayed home to work.
I thought Rob might be just behind the open door to greet us. Or murdered, lying dead on the living room floor. Either one.
I turned the car off and told the girls to stay outside. When I entered, the house was eerily quiet and still. “Rob?” I called out.
“Yeah?” he answered back from his office. I blew out a huge sigh after hearing his voice and not seeing his dead body, but it was short lived when I realized Bruno, our old English Bulldog, wasn’t in his bed, or on the leather couch, where he’s been spending most of his golden years.
“Why’s the door open?” I yelled. “Bruno’s gone!”
“What?!” Rob yelled back. I then heard him running up the stairs.
I’ll just admit it – Bruno’s a trophy dog. He’s precious, gentle and loving, but he’s not saving Timmy from a well. He has zero survival skills and doesn’t wish to learn any. You’ll hear nothing on the news of Bruno getting lost in California and making his way back home to Omaha. He’s not finding fugitives in ditches or following the scent of a lost child.
He eats, he sleeps, he demands you get up from the couch so he can sit on your spot now that it’s warm, and when you refuse he *might* get on your lap, but it’s completely on his terms. Honestly, he barely even comes when we call his name – he has to be in the mood.
But oh, how I adore him.
Bulldogs can hardly manage 75 degrees, and it was sweltering. He’d been out in the suburban wilderness for who knows how long and I was terrified. His neck is so thick a collar won’t stay on, so all he had was his chip. English bulldog’s are one of the top stolen breeds, so I went to worse case scenarios and prayed someone kind would find him and take him to an animal shelter that could read his chip locate us – even though I was pretty sure the address and phone number were outdated. OH LORD HELP US.
Rob ran upstairs and we decided he’d go on foot and I’d drive with the girls. I drove slowly and made several loops around our neighborhood. Bruno was lost.
The girls had been angling for a new puppy the last couple weeks, and saw a sliver of opportunity. Lucy sighed, “I guess we’ll need a new puppy that won’t get lost.”
“You know what, Lu,” I said giving her the evil eyes through the drivers mirror, “Bruno is my first baby, and I love him, and I want to find him safe and sound. Got it?” My lip quivered. But what if I don’t find him?
She looked out the window with a “perhaps that was too soon” look on her face. She’d try again later.
I saw a woman outside on her lawn, pulling weeds. I asked her if she’d seen him. She said she hadn’t, but set out on foot to help me. Another woman a few houses down was getting something out of her trunk. She hadn’t seen Bruno either, but hopped in her car to look and recommended I download the Nextdoor app and post a picture of him there.
Friends, I can’t tell you how hard I’ve fought to avoid neighborhood apps. It’s where bored, paranoid, and passive aggressive people go to find their purpose in life. But I downloaded it for my baby, put up the post, and kept driving. My phone dinged – it was the Nextdoor app. Was he found? No. Apparently there was a car break in on Bradly St., except they aren’t totally sure anything was stolen and there was no real evidence of a break in. Still, we were told to be vigilant. I threw my phone out the window.
My neighbor Don, pulled up. He’s a retired, big, long haired, long bearded biker dude who calls me sweetheart and brings me tomatoes from his garden. “I saw your husband going around calling for Bruno, so I’ll drive around and look for him too sweetheart. Don’t worry, we’ll find him.”
But the more I drove and saw no sign of him, the more dread washed over my body. I prayed out loud, “God, please help a kind person find him. Someone who will take care of him and do what they can to find us.”
“But a brand new puppy—“
“Not now, Lucy!”
Rob called and asked me to pick him up down the road. When I turned the corner and pulled to the side, a woman pulled up beside us. She rolled down her window. “Looking for something?”
“Is it a bulldog?” I cried. She got out of the car. I noticed she was wearing scrubs while she opened her back door. Bruno was lying on her backseat, like a pampered king, panting and drooling just enough to make it awkward. He wasn’t happy to see us, per se, more like, “Oh, hey, guys. What are you doing here?”
She told us that Bruno was lying on her front stoop when she got home from work. She gave him water and a bit to eat, and was just about to take him in to see if anyone was looking for him.
“Bless you!” I said, choking back tears, giving her a socially distanced air hug. “Are you a nurse?”
“No, I’m a vet tech,” she said, petting Bruno goodbye. I laughed to myself. Not only was he found by someone kind, but also highly qualified.
We piled back into the car and made our way home. “I still think a new puppy wouldn’t—“
I went around and found all the neighbors still looking for Bruno and told them the good news. They were so happy for me and I felt so thankful they even cared at all.
I know it seems our world is scary, divisive and angry. That we hate each other, our politics, our horrible opinions. That we’re intolerant and cruel to one another. But, I find when I get off the Internet and get off my front porch, I just find kind people who don’t know me, but care enough about me to stop what they’re doing to help me. Strangers who cared my Bruno was lost and celebrated when he was found.
I pulled up the NextDoor app and typed, “Bruno’s been found! But also, someone is going around the neighborhood opening front doors and leaving them wide open. Be vigilant.”
I might not have shut it all the way, who knows. But you can never be too careful.
I turned off the notifications, because who has the time? Bruno nuzzled his face in my lap and seemed to miss me, although one can’t be sure. Then he farted, into a long, slow crescendo, smacked his lips and slept soundly for a long, long time.