63: The Timeshare

63: The Timeshare

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

The Timeshare

Fun fact: Three types of identification are often used for dogs: tags, microchips, and tattoos. Identification greatly improves the chances you’ll find your dog if she gets loose.

The black-and-white-spotted, mixed-breed dog had been spending a lot of time around our house for the past week. “It says her name is Boones, and there’s a phone number,” my son Chris confirmed after checking the small ID tag hanging from the dog’s collar. “I’ll give them a call to let them know where she is in case they’re worried about her.”

I stayed with the dog while Chris went in the house to make the call. I didn’t want her to run off should the owners wish to come and get her.

Chris returned looking disheartened. “I see why Boones has been spending so much time here. That guy’s a total jerk! He says to do what we want with her — but if she returns to his house, he’ll shoot her.”

When I asked if the man explained why he didn’t like her, Chris replied, “No, but he sounded pretty adamant about shooting her.”

“Let’s keep her here for a while. Maybe he’s just having a bad day and will have a change of heart.” I tried to remain positive.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Chris chuckled. “I doubt he even has a heart.”

Food worked wonders for keeping Boones at our house. Although she had to share the cat’s food on the first night, we made certain to buy her some food of her own early the following morning.

After a couple of weeks, we assumed we had a new dog. We hadn’t encountered any problems with her, nor had we heard from her owner.

Chris decided to give him another call to ask if he wanted us to return his dog. His response in not-so-kind words was that she was all ours, and we were never to call again.

That was fine with us.

Boones seemed to thrive with our love and care. However, after several weeks, we began to notice that she was a little heavier than what would be an ideal weight for her. Since we knew she was getting plenty of exercise chasing butterflies, jumping for the Frisbee, and retrieving her ball, which the grandkids loved throwing for her, we decided to cut down on her food.

Although she spent most of her time at the house, she was free to come and go as she wished. She was a good dog, and we hadn’t had a single complaint from the neighbors. She slept in the doghouse we put on the front porch and seemed to be very content.

One sunny afternoon, I decided to walk the half-mile or so down our gravel road to the mailbox — something I hadn’t done in a while, since I’d been getting enough exercise trying to keep up with Boones.

As I approached our nearest neighbor’s house, I was surprised to see Boones sitting on the front porch looking very much at home. She came running out to greet me, and Tim stopped his riding lawnmower to walk over and join us. Tim was a middle-aged, divorced father of four, and although we didn’t visit often, we got along very well.

“What do you think of our newest family member?” Tim asked with a proud smile.

As I looked around, expecting to see another child or maybe a new wife, he nodded toward Boones, who was nestled up against my legs.

“Our new dog, Bones,” he explained, to my surprise.

Caught off guard, I blurted out rather abruptly, “This is my dog, and her name is Boones, not Bones!”

I’m not sure who was more stunned, Tim or me. But after exchanging very similar stories about our conversations with the fellow across the acres, it was easy to see why we both claimed ownership.

Since Tim worked during the day, he had no idea that Boones was spending the entire day at our home. And while I was busy with my family in the evenings, I assumed she was sleeping in her doghouse.

The reason for her quick weight gain suddenly came to light as well. She had been milking her good fortune for all its worth, eating at both houses twice daily.

“Why do you call her Bones?” I questioned.

“Because that’s the name on her tag.”

“Tim, it’s Boones, not Bones,” I giggled.

“Guess I need to see an eye doctor,” Tim laughed as he checked her tag to make sure.

We decided that I would continue to feed her every morning, and Tim would feed her at night. That way she’d still know she belonged to both families, but would hopefully lose a little of that excess weight.

We ended our conversation by congratulating each other on our newest family member and agreed to keep in better contact. Then I continued my walk to the mailbox with “my” dog by my side.

Our dog-sharing arrangement presented no problems other than a little bump along the way when we noticed Boones was beginning to gain weight again. This time, however, it was not from overeating — it was quite obvious that she was going to be a momma.

Tim and I acted like proud, expectant grandparents. We were confident that we could find good homes for all her pups, but after seeing them, neither of us could resist our picks of the litter. My family chose an adorable little black-and-white male, and Tim’s family decided on a beautiful beige-and-white female. We named them Tucker and Lucy.

To this day, we still share Boones, but we also share the two pups. Since they grew up following their mom back and forth across the field between our houses, they’ve always assumed they have two homes.

We call their momma Boones at our house, Tim still calls her Bones at his, and she’s clever enough to answer to both.

~Connie Kaseweter Pullen

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