Cleaning out paper work I found this. The story of a bargain hunter, and a dog.
The words were hastily scrawled on a piece of cardboard: "Yard Sale Today, Everything Must Go." Beneath it, in smaller letters, were the words "Free Dog." Yes indeed, I thought, everything must go.
I intended to look at the glassware and skim through the books on one of the tables, but my eyes were drawn to a large, comfortable-looking dog in the backyard. He scratched and yawned, revealing two rows of teeth that could in all probability take care of a good chunk of meat whenever they were allowed to. The dog looked over the horde of bargain hunters, decided they posed no threat, then plunked down in the sun for probably the fourth snooze of the morning.
I focused my attention on some interesting looking glasses with etchings of sailboats on them and decided to take all six. As I reached into my purse for some money. I realized I was being watched by an elderly gentleman whose job, I presumed, was to mind the table in front of him. I handed him the money and pointed to the etched glasses. He removed the short stub of a cigar from his mouth and said, "Do you want the dog too?" It seemed like an odd question. I had momentarily forgotten about the poor animal in the back yard, who was now blissfully lost in sweet slumber.
"Do you want the dog, too?" came the question again - this time with an edge of impatience.
"Oh my, no, just the glasses" I replied. The old man looked at me as if I had insulted the queen. His eyes lifted occasionally to meet mine as his work-weary hands carefully wrapped each glass.
I reminded myself that the good thing about a yard sale is that you don't have to feel obliged to buy anything, and you certainly are not obligated to take the family dog, even if it is free. "Why are you getting rid of him?" I asked, hoping not to appear too interested. Through his parched lips "It's Time". A chill went through me and I knew that this giveaway was perhaps the dogs last chance at a longer life. I didn't ask any more questions.
To get my mind off the dog, I picked up a vase with a picture of a goose on it. The vase had a chip near the top but the man still wanted a dollar and some change. Before I could give him the money, he had maneuvered himself out of the his chair and limped into the backyard to unleash the day's real bargain. The dog, as if on cue, came lumbering over. He was quite a friendly mutt. He looked like he might like to shake my hand, pat me on the back, and say, "Well ma'am, I am mighty happy to make your acquaintance. When do we leave?"
The elderly gentleman was seated once again and shared that the poor old beast went by the name of Ralph.
Ralph and I continued to make eye contact. Ralph followed me to the edge of the yard and watched me as I got in and closed the door of the car.
I passed the same yard later that afternoon. There were few shoppers at this late hour and most of the junk was gone. But not Ralph. Ralph sat obediently next to the old man now, his future still uncertain.
There sits man's best friend, I thought, with probably a decade or more of loyal service, companionship, and unconditional love, and he cannot be given away.
Now, several days later, I reflect on the possibility that if we are lucky, our fate will not be in the hands of others someday. If we are lucky, we will be loved and cared for and valued until the day we die. Who among us is destined to be that lucky, I wondered.
My thoughts are interrupted by a soft tapping sound on the kitchen floor.
"What's the matter, Ralph old boy?"
Written by Helen Loring Smith who lives in Kingston, Mass.
I do not remember what magazine I tore this out of - but I found it touching.
From One Woman on this cold afternoon.