The Journey of Phillip, the Forgotten, to Phillip, the Fabulous, in 30 Days
Twelfth in a Series
December 27, 2015
Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Gently Down the Stream
For once, Cindy Lou was not in possession of the chair, my favorite and only presentable chair, as I exerted ownership by comfortably settling into its cushions to read my new Christmas book about natural healing. Paul had taken “the brotherhood” on a road trip to Starbuck’s. The rest of the canines were napping peacefully on mats placed around the house. It was just the kind of day that was perfect for reading. I opened my book to the chapter on Demodex mange. “Yes, this was my kind of day,” I smiled contentedly, as the calming music of a peaceful rainy day filled the house.
The sound of the bark squad interrupted my solitude announcing an unexpectedly quick return. The chorus from the open windows of the 1996 Honda Civic dog taxi heralded the arrival as the mouths of the furry friends provided the barked broadcast signal of “We’re home!” Each one was soaked with rain. I shook my head at the sight. “I bet this is the only car on the road with the windows down in a rain storm,” I thought imagining the saturated seats of the “dog car”. A coffee-less Paul rushed into the house with his dripping entourage paving the way. Each dog was telling his own version of the events in yips and whines as the man tried to speak above their voices. “One at a time, PLEASE!” I shouted over the frenzy.
Loki stood nervously shifting his weight from paw to paw awaiting his turn while emitting a low whine demanding that I notice him. Stanley shook his wet double coat making sure he shared the outdoors with the walls, ceiling, and furniture. He then proceeded to roll on the carpet…his personal towel. The smell of wet dog penetrated my nostrils. Jeff Smith sat gazing up at Paul as if giving him undivided attention for the important announcement that was to come. “You won’t believe it out there, Ellen. There is some serious flash flooding. We had to turn around and come back. The road is blocked and the creek is overflowing. It is incredibly dangerous,” he shouted over the dog noises.
The sirens of ambulances and fire trucks filled the air. Weasley with teeth tightly clenching his ball ran down the stairs and to the window to see what he could do to help. Being a Labrador Retriever, he was always ready to assist in any way he could. “There is a mini-van stuck trying to cross the bridge. The water is flowing through the car. I’m going to see if I there is something I can do,” Paul said obviously with the same idea as the elderly lab. Weasley bounced up and down to let Paul know that he was the best choice for the job. “I’m your boy!” the senior citizen of dogs seemed to be communicating. “Let’s do it, Weasley!” Paul said grabbing a leash for the urgent task ahead. Weasley gazed intently at the door with his tail straight and a paw pointing in the direction of the stranded car. Paul and Weasley flew out the door before I could point out the absurdity in the situation.
“What do you really think you can do to help?” I found myself talking to nothing but a closed door. I laughed at the thought of the big lab bounding up to the stalled mini-van to “save the day” by offering a ball to the stranded driver in distress. I could nearly hear the thought processes the old dog was having, “Have no fear! Weasley’s here! Play ball?” As far as Weasley was concerned, a wet ball solved all life’s problems.
“I’d better go outside as well and make sure someone doesn’t do something stupid,” I told myself as visions of all sorts of possible outcomes passed through my mind, and none of them ending very well with those two in charge. I grabbed the green rain coat and boots for a trip into the torrent. “Go for walk! Go for walk!” Gracie Bird announced picking up on the clue. Phillip came running.
Phillip sat in front of me as I readied myself. “You stay here, Phillip. It’s wet outside and you don’t like the rain, remember?” I said soothingly. As I walked to the door, he positioned himself as an obstacle to my exit route, and sat again. Once he had learned that the sit command meant treats, he did it often making certain that someone noticed, but this time was different. He did not want a treat. Phillip was trying to communicate with me and getting my attention the only way he knew how. “What is it, boy?” I asked watching for a response. He looked at the door and then at me and whined. Lifting a paw, he scratched lightly at the door. “You want to go out there, don’t you?” I asked knowing his answer already. This was no dumb dog!
The dry creek was quickly filling with rain run-off and flowing like white water rapids. It looked less like a scene from Arkansas and more like Niagara Falls. The creek seldom had water in it at all. In fact, years had passed since water had filled the creek, and even then the flow lasted only hours. I looked at the change in our demographic as our once grassy valley had become a lake which was quickly inching toward the house. The road was now covered by a dangerously forceful locomotion of water pushing everything along its path. Tires, trees, even discarded hot water heaters were jammed into a make-shift dam by the massive force of nature.
With single minded determination, a frail Phillip pulled the leash with the drive and power of an experienced sled dog until he reached Paul and Weasley. To Phillip, being left in a rain storm punctuated by lightening was one of the more terrifying events of his life. He did not want Paul to experience some of the same horrors he had known. Last night, those nightmarish memories made him tremble, but today he was so concerned about his foster dad that there was no bad dream capable of distracting his focus. Phillip leaned against Paul to let him know that all was well. “Your rescue dog is here to help,” his eyes said convincingly.
Thankfully, Paul and Weasley were standing out of the path of danger filming the capable emergency rescue crews with his ever present camera. Weasley bounced up and down cheering them along with his frisky bark. Phillip positioned himself in front of Paul and did a sit. He looked up at the man with eyes that said,” I was worried about you!”. “What?” Paul said looking down at the concerned eyes. “You didn’t think I would do something stupid, did you?” Phillip looked over to me knowing my thoughts exactly. I nodded down at Phillip while stroking his bare naked head.
Somehow this quiet cozy day spent reading a book had not turned out as I had envisioned. I surveyed the scene that took its place. There was a mangy mongrel and a ball toting Labrador with a wet middle aged man willing to offer support. How silly this may have seemed to others, yet I knew each of them put their own short comings aside as the unlikely hero’s they were. The man had a heart bigger than his head. Weasley was true blue through and through. And then there is Phillip. “His heart may have suffered years of neglect, but it’s the most giving heart I’ve ever known!” I said, knowing that Paul was thinking the absolute same thing. Yep, this was turning out to be my kind of day!