It was an ordinary Shabbat. Kids were up at the crack of dawn, eating breakfast by 7 and engaging in mortal combat by 8:15.
Taxman agreed to meet us at the park after synagogue; I got us all out and dressed by 10:30.
Halfway to the park, I saw her. A small black puppy, furry tail, longish ears, wearing a red harness but no nametag. Now, there are a ton of stray cats in our city–all over Israel, in fact–but it is rare to see a dog here in this well-heeled suburb without a human close by. She excitedly trotted over, and I scratched her ears. I had to! She looked just like my childhood dog, L.
I looked around for her human; didn’t see one. The kids were immediately in my face asking if she was a stray, and could we keep her? I knew she wasn’t, so I said we had to find her family. I was petrified she would run into the street–puppies seem to have less street sense than toddlers, and she was inclined to run after the kids–so I picked her up. A young woman looked at me curiously, so I asked if the puppy was hers. She said no, but she seemed to think she was from the next building over. We went in and knocked on a couple of doors, to no avail. (But I did startle a woman, who literally shrieked at the sight of this puppy who couldn’t have weighed more than 10 pounds.)
I had no leash, no rope, nothing. So I nestled her against my chest and went looking for Taxman, the Solver of Problems. I neglected to hold my childrens’ hands across the street because, hello, puppy with no leash!
I passed by a lot of people from our synagogue at the park, who probably thought I had lost my mind. I tried to explain to one of them what had happened, and she looked vaguely horrified as she said, “I don’t know what to tell you.”
Finally Taxman appeared, so I strolled up to him and said, “We have a little bit of a situation.”
“So I see,” he said cheerfully.
“I found her on the sidewalk. I was so afraid she’d go into the street! And she’s so cute! And she looks just like L.”
“That’s just what I thought,” he grinned. [He got to meet L once, when she was very old and very deaf but still very sweet.] “Let’s try to find her house.”
So I carried her back to the corner where I’d found her. Taxman accosted a family emerging from the nearest apartment building and explained what had happened. (I was strangely emotional from the whole thing and found that Hebrew had mostly escaped from my brain.) As it happened, this family knew the family to whom she belonged and promised to bring her back to them. “Ezeh ketah,”* murmured the mom. I regretfully handed over the little sprite to one of her daughters, and we watched them cross over to the other side of the traffic circle (oy!), bringing her back to where she lived.
Unexpected puppy snuggles on a warm winter day. Hard to complain about that.
*In context, sort of “what a situation!”