“She’s a rescue dog,” said my five-year old neighbor, pointing at our dog Detroit as I was walking her one day. I was impressed that he had remembered my earlier conversation with his mother about how we had rescued Detroit from a shelter.
“Yes, she is,” I responded.
“What can she do?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” he said, “can she climb a ladder on a fire truck?”
“No,” I chuckled, “but she will bark if there is danger.”
“She’s not barking now,” he said.
“We must not be in any danger,” I assured him.
Two days later, though, Detroit did alert me to danger.
On that particular day, two years ago, my friend Jim was scheduled to pick Detroit up at noon for a weekend at his house. His custom was to call me when they got to his house to let me know she was taken care of. But on that day, no call came and I knew something was wrong.
Jim had collapsed in his office and when EMS got him to the hospital, a scan looking for a concussion revealed that Jim had brain cancer. If not for the dog, I probably would not have been concerned about Jim’s whereabouts until it was too late.
So much has changed since that day two years ago. Jim lived for nine more months and then died peacefully at home. Earlier this year, I quit my job and sold my house in Pennsylvania. Now Detroit and I live in Michigan where I have started a new job and bought a new house.
I often reflect on how important Detroit was to Jim, both before and after he got sick. Now, she is important to me.
In this new place where I am building a new life and don’t know many people, she is my faithful companion.
Every evening when I get home from work, she is anxiously awaiting my arrival. We go for a walk and then a little later, she wants to play. Eventually, she rolls over for me to rub her belly and scratch behind her ears.
She is happy in our new home with its fenced-in yard and resident rabbits, squirrels and birds. Her antics make me laugh.
In this time of transition, when I can sometimes feel so sad at what I have lost, she reminds me to live in the moment and appreciate all we have.
Initially, we rescued her, but she has returned the favor many times over.