DEAR ABBY: One Sunday, our two elderly dogs (14 and 15) were outside in the yard when a sudden rainstorm came up. One of the dogs ran inside, but the other, "Windom," didn't. We assumed he had taken refuge in the doghouse or under the porch. We live in a rural area and the dogs rarely leave the yard, so when Windom still hadn't come to the door a half-hour later, we began looking for him.
On foot and by car, my husband and I, along with our teenaged son who has a handicap, searched a two-mile radius. No luck. The next day we resumed our search, this time combing the wooded area around our house. Still no luck. On Tuesday, fearing the worst, we continued to look -- checking the ditches up and down the roads. By Thursday, we no longer expected to find him alive.
The following Sunday, one week from the day Windom disappeared, I got up early as usual and went to Mass. I prayed our beloved Windom had not suffered. Although I had accepted the fact he was dead, I still prayed for an answer. All I wanted was to find him and bury him.
After church, I was sitting at the breakfast table with our son when the phone rang. The caller said he had found our dog! My husband was in the shower, and I began running around like a chicken with my head cut off -- grabbing my keys and dashing for the door. Our son hollered the good news to his dad, who of course wanted to come with us. We all hopped into our pickup and headed for the address the man had given.
Only God knows what happened in that week Windom was gone. Somehow he had traveled from our rural home to a busy main road 6 miles away. When Windom left our yard, he was a 65-pound, long-haired mixed breed. After his excursion, he had lost 18 pounds and was an exhausted, dehydrated mess. His hair was so matted and thick with burrs, I had to take him to a groomer and have him shaved. On his first day home, all he wanted to do was sleep and drink water.
Abby, in all the excitement, we failed to get that kind person's name. However, we want him to know how grateful we are that he took the time to stop on that busy road to help a lost dog find his family. We'll remember him always in our prayers. -- ROBERTA JONES, FORESTVILLE, N.Y.
DEAR ROBERTA: While you're at it, you should thank God your dog was wearing current identification and didn't lose his collar. Your experience should serve as an important reminder to pet owners everywhere.