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Lost and Found
By Michelle Boyaner

As we locked the front door of the house and made our way to the car I could almost already hear myself, filled with willpower, saying, "No chips, please" to the Mariachi-uniformed waiter at our local Mexican Restaurant where we were headed for an early dinner. I was going to have the chicken fajitas and a dinner salad with ranch on the side.

Suddenly, as if deposited there by some stealth airborne delivery service that can land and take-off without a trace, a large, black and white dog stood before us in our driveway. I'd mention the breed (sounds like "Liberian Rusky") except I fear that the "Liberian Rusky" enthusiasts I'm about to describe might be casually Googl-ing the object of their enthusiasm and find this story and do some sort of "Liberian Rusky" version of harm and damage to me. So, I'm sticking with "Liberian Rusky." Thank you for your patience.

So this beautiful, apparently lost, approximately one-year-old "Liberian Rusky" walked right up to my girlfriend, Barbara, as if they had a pre-scheduled meeting. The dog may as well have been holding one of those little appointment reminder cards they give you at the hair salon or dentist's office. Because she was raised with dogs, Barbara immediately recognized that this was a dog on the run. Through an intricate series of hand gestures and melodic whistles, she quickly garnered its trust and shepherded it into our gated, side yard.

Still almost-tasting the never-to-be-ordered Margarita from the waiter we wouldn't be served by that night, I wondered what to do. I looked at the dog and asked innocently if indeed it was a "Liberian Rusky" or if it wasn't actually more a wolf-dog than a simple dog-dog. Barbara laughed, with that "oh, my sweet, innocent, completely-ignorant-to-the-wide-variety-of-dog-breeds-out-there, little same-sex partner" laugh and told me that it was not a dog-wolf but a purebred "Liberian Rusky." (Whatever!) So, she knows dog breeds and I know TV theme songs from the '70s. Together we make one half of a well-rounded person.

Nationality established, she began giving the Found Dog a visual once over, looking for tags, markings or a doggie wallet. I began pacing, worried that its owner might wander by in the midst of what he thought was a casual late-afternoon walk with his "Liberian Rusky" and seeing us, accuse us of dognapping. I imagined us wrongly charged, handcuffed and thrown into the back of two separate police cars that would have pulled up all willy-nilly into our driveway. With emergency lights still flashing and casting a red and blue shadow on our garage door, our neighbors would gather near the black and white cruisers and speculate in hushed tones about what might be going on with the lesbians.

No owner wandered up even as I loudly cleared my throat in the hopes of attracting one. I even went so far as to walk down the street calling out, "Hello? Is anyone missing a dog?" in an attempt to draw attention to our plight.

The found "Liberian Rusky" was ID-less and very thirsty, so we quickly threw together a makeshift drinking situation which involved water and a beautiful, formerly for-show-only ceramic Bauer bowl (look it up on eBay, it's nice stuff). The dog lapped up that water the way a quality paper towel (say, Bounty) would absorb a nasty spill (e.g. cranberry juice). We refilled the Bauer bowl and watched in amazement as the dog drained it once more. This no-longer-collectible bowl would now become one of those items that has been tainted and is no longer kept on display or in circulation. Another member of this exclusive "club of shamed containers" is a formerly pristine stainless steel bowl that was forced to double as a receptacle for human urine during an unfortunate debilitating back injury in the Winter of 2000 (you'll have to guess whose, 'cause I aint naming names).

I'll interject at this point that unlike Barbara, I did not grow up with a huge fondness for dogs. My family had several dogs over the years, but they were usually small to medium sized Collie-types with strange Russian names who would appear suddenly, observe us for a week or two, then mysteriously disappear when they realized that life on the street (or wherever) was probably cleaner and safer than life in our chaos-filled household. During those same impressionable childhood years, an incident occurred, which we call "the time I was dragged down the street by a big dog" incident, in which I was accidentally dragged by a big dog down the street, until an adult approached, untangled me from the big dog and took me home, scraped, bleeding, and forever with a not-so-soft spot in my heart for big dogs. Or dog leashes. I would, from that point on, avoid big dogs the way someone who eats bad Clams will forever avoid women wearing pearls, or using the phrase "I just clammed up" in describing their inability to speak.

"Signs! We must put up signs!" Barbara said, and ran into the house, grabbed a sheet of paper and a sharpie and urgently wrote -- "LIBERIAN RUSKY FOUND." Call (XXX) XXX-XXXX (not our real phone number). We hurriedly made crude copies on our home copy machine and raced around our immediate neighborhood, posting them.

As we drove around, Barbara suddenly remembered a particular series of lost dog signs plastered throughout a local canyon; we had been passing these for weeks, and she seemed to remember they were for a "Liberian Rusky." Could this be that dog? Surely this dog was too clean to have been on the streets for the several weeks the signs had been up, but it was our only lead, so we drove toward that canyon.

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