79: Comet Dog

79: Comet Dog

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Comet Dog

Faithful friends are gifts from heaven: Whoever finds one has found a treasure.

~Author Unknown

I first noticed him as I drove around the boat basin in the small fishing village near where we lived. He was strutting along and was the cutest little dog I had ever seen. He had something special about him. I wondered who would have let such a beautiful creature loose.

I assumed that he must have belonged to a tourist somewhere nearby.

Later that night, I felt a restlessness I couldn’t explain to my husband. “I just have to go for a drive” was the best explanation I had for leaving on one of the rare nights during fishing season when he was home.

I found myself back at the basin, parked near the restrooms and kiosk. Sure enough, the little fellow was still there. The weather had turned wet and cold, and he looked a bit bedraggled. I realized he had nowhere to go. But no amount of cajoling would get him into my car. Although he liked the attention, he stayed just out of grasp.

I went home and got food and water. No dice.

I went back home again, and explained to Tim, my husband, about the lost little dog. I thought that maybe he didn’t like my car, so we headed back to the basin with our two other vehicles.

Still no success. By now the poor pooch was soaked.

Suddenly I heard a voice. It was either God or my father, and it very clearly said, “Go home and get a big bath towel, stupid. You’ll need to dry him anyway.” I figured God probably wouldn’t call me stupid, so it must have been my dad.

We returned to the house, one mile straight uphill. I switched back to the first car, already loaded with beach towels and a very impressive heater. This time when I got out, holding open a big, fluffy towel, the puppy was mine!

Since he looked like a half-drowned red teddy bear by the time I caught him, I named him “Rainbear.”

When we went to bed, he knew just where a dog should sleep. He scooted right under the covers between us.

“Too bad it’s so stormy tonight,” Tim said. “We could have seen Hale-Bopp while we were out.”

I had forgotten the comet was passing over us in a path it took only once a century or so.

“Maybe he’s the ex-dog of the Dalai Lama,” I joked. “The comet picked him up and dropped him off here.”

I advertised, called Petfinders, and checked the paper every day. I still could not believe that Rainbear wasn’t lost from some RV. After all, he was the perfect passenger, the perfect companion, pretty much the perfect everything. Someone somewhere must have been brokenhearted.

One night we found an ad for a lost dog, similar to Rainbear, missing from Hauser, north of us just over the McCullough Bridge.

“He’s probably not mine, but I’d still love to see him,” said the lady who answered when I called.

Hoping he was not hers, we agreed to bring him out to her. He was not hers, but she looked him up in her big dog book for us. “The only thing that looks like him is a Tibetan Spaniel, but they are rare,” she mused.

So we told her our comet story, and all had a good laugh.

Sometime later, on a warm sunny day, we were walking Bear at the boat basin. As we started down to the docks, footsteps thundered on the metal ramp behind us, increasing in speed until reaching us.

“I had to catch up with you,” panted a stranger. “Do you know what you have there?” Not waiting for an answer, he said, “He is a Tibetan Spaniel! I’m a breeder. I don’t often see one.”

We traded stories. He told us what great dogs they are; he had turned down a chance to work in England because he didn’t want to leave his.

Gradually we discovered Rainbear’s roots.

When we had him checked out by a vet, we learned he had been kicked and beaten hard enough to crush vertebrae and break ribs.

Then one day when Bear and I were walking in our favorite place, a man with a tiny dog came up the ramp. Thinking the dogs would like to play, I smiled at the man, only to be upstaged by a furry streak climbing onto the top of my head, where he hung on screaming. Now, the sound of an alarmed Tibetan Spaniel has been described as “the sound of ten dragons screaming.” In ancient monasteries, it was the Tibetan Spaniels’ job not only to wake up the household, but also the big dogs who would chase away intruders.

“Wow,” said the surprisingly calm young man. “I know him. He usually plays with my dog.”

“You know him?”

“Yeah, he belonged to a guy down the street. I’m glad you have him now.”

“He must be afraid you’ll take him back.”

I pried Rainbear off my head, and the man filled me in, Bear quivering the whole time. Rainbear had survived abuse, managed to get away, and traveled miles on busy Cape Arago Highway to find a new life.

Rainbear really believed that he had found Heaven, and we were equally sure that our little “comet dog” was Heaven sent.

~Teresa Anne Rigg

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