Lost dogs and four-pawed messages

I may have mentioned before that sometimes there’s a dog at Hippie School; the director was bringing her almost every day, for a while. This dog and Monkey immediately became the best of friends, because Monkey loves animals and Star is a saintly paragon of patience when it comes to children flinging themselves all over her.

It was reported to me on more than one occasion that when Monkey was having a difficult time, either he would spontaneously go bury his face in Star or she would go to him and sit on his feet. (It must be noted here that Licorice is also very patient with Monkey, but at 12 pounds, it’s not as though she can actually anchor him the way a large dog can, and that’s aside from the fact that if he’s truly freaking out, she gets scared.) Just one more benefit of Hippie School, right?

One day last week Monkey came home absolutely despondent. “Star ran away,” he told me, eyes brimming with tears. “She was probably just chasing something and got lost. She didn’t come back.”

I immediately contacted Teresa, of course, to ask if she needed help looking. She said that she had some folks helping, and they were making loops around the area around the school, and talking to people, and thank you for the offer, but she was sure they’d find her soon. She was, as always, sounding optimistic and upbeat, but I could hear the edge of worry underneath. I told her to let me know if she needed anything.

The next morning, I waited until about 6:30 before emailing her again to say I couldn’t stand it, had she found Star? This time there was no mistaking the sadness and panic in her response; they’d looked until nearly midnight, she’d gone in again at 5:00 a.m. to resume the search, and no sign of her yet. Worse, there had been thunderstorms, and Star is famously afraid of thunder—if someone hadn’t taken her in, there was no telling what might have happened. Plus we were not going to discuss how likely it is for a black dog to get hit by a car in the dark.

I felt positively sick.

When I woke Monkey up that morning, he popped straight out of bed and asked me if Star had come home. Breakfast was a morose affair.

That afternoon, a jubilant email arrived—someone had indeed taken Star in late the night before, and in asking around, finally Teresa was alerted and was able to go retrieve her. She had crossed the highway not once but TWICE, proving once and for all that Star is, in fact, made of magic. There was much rejoicing at school, though of course Teresa explained to the kids that this probably meant Star would be visiting there less often.

The kids wrote a group thank you note to the lady who found Star, with everyone getting to add a line to it. Monkey’s line said something about “Thank you for rescuing our teacher from a heart attack.” That kid has such a knack for flowery language, no?

At home that afternoon, Monkey regaled me with a play by play of Star’s return and the fuss everyone made over her, and he tried to sound brave as he told me she probably wouldn’t be coming to school much anymore. “I’ll miss her,” he admitted, “but the important thing is that she stays safe.”

The next day, I was sitting here working when Monkey popped up on Instant Messenger. “Mom! We found a lost dog!”

Yes, the very day after Star came home, a group of boys were playing out in the woods and came across an emaciated stray. With Teresa’s help, they “rescued” him, and by the time I arrived for pickup that afternoon, their guest was lounging in the middle of the main room like the King, all curled up on a soft blanket, children taking turns petting him, and food and water at his disposal. He was absolutely beautiful; despite obviously feeling unwell and being painfully thin, he appeared to be a majestic Irish Setter or mix therein, with a pretty face and a ready tail-thump for all. The kids fell all over each other to fill me in on the whole story, and Teresa confirmed that it was Monkey who’d taken to Craigslist and found what appeared to be the Lost Dog ad for their new friend. The family in question lived an hour away and had been called, and they were on their way to come see if he was theirs.

“What are you going to do if he’s not theirs?” I asked Teresa. I looked back over at the dog. Monkey was stretched out next to him on the floor, scratching his chin. Before I realized it was out of my mouth, I offered to come back and get him for the night if necessary; I could take him to the vet in the morning, get him scanned for a chip, have his (obviously infected) ears looked at.

Well, the family that drove an hour had lost him back in October (!), but felt this was indeed their pup. They took him home and to the vet, and the next day they sent a long email to the kids to let them know how much better he was feeling and how he clearly remembered their house and where he belonged, etc. It was a happy ending after all, and Monkey was very proud of himself for being the one to find the dog’s family.

There was much talk at Hippie School of karma, and how Star had been returned to them, so then they were able to pay it forward in reuniting the big red dog with his family.

“I really liked that dog,” said Monkey, somewhat wistfully. “I love Licorice, but I like big dogs like that. I miss having Star at school.” I hugged him and reminded him what a wonderful thing he’d done, and also that Star’s safety was important, and he said he knew, and I said I knew that it was still hard, and life went on.

A couple of mornings ago, I opened my office door to let Licorice out into the fenced area, and she ran out like a bat out of hell, as per usual. I shut the door and sat back down at my desk, next to the window. I’d gotten through about four emails when I saw something streak across the yard out of the corner of my eye—I looked up just in time to see a medium-size dog dart behind the corner of the fence.

“Otto?” I called. “There’s a dog in the yard.”

“Is it small, black and furry?” he replied. “That’s Licorice.”

I was up and peering out the door. “No, silly. A big brown dog. Outside the fence.”

“Oh,” he said, joining me to look outside. “Yeah, when I was taking Chickadee to school I almost ran that dog over. No collar.”

I stepped out onto the porch. “C’mere pup!” I called. A face popped up at the fencepost. Licorice, of course, completely ignored me. “C’mon baby! Come!” I called. The dog started running across the yard, away from me, back up towards the road. I looked back at Otto in a panic. How could I get this skittish dog away from harm if she wouldn’t come?

But then Licorice realized there was a dog out there and she ran under the porch so that she was standing directly beneath me, and barked through the latticework.

The stray immediately bowed from up on the driveway—front down, rear up, tail wagging—and as I came down the porch steps and called again, she ran to me. First she sniffed at the latticework where Licorice was going positively ballistic, then she came up one step to sniff at my outstretched hand. I sat down on the top step and that was apparently all she needed; she hurled all 40 pounds or so of herself into my lap and commenced licking my face.

“Now look what you’ve done,” Otto said from inside the porch, a hint of a chuckle in his voice.

“I think this is a puppy,” I said, between licks. “Oh man, she is so sweet! Can you take Licorice in? I’m going to get her up onto the porch.”

Otto got Licorice inside, and my new friend and I managed to get up into the screen porch. By this time, Monkey had spotted what was going on, and was literally falling over in his rush to get his shoes on. He ran out onto the porch and StrayPuppy was all HELLO! I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE MY NEW VERY FAVORITE! LET’S BE FRIENDS FOREVER! It took a couple minutes just for Monkey to work his way over to a chair, and then StrayPuppy stood up on her hind legs so as to put as much of her body as possible in his lap.

“I think she likes me,” he said, grinning ear to ear.

We put in a call to Animal Control and gave StrayPuppy some food and water (both of which she snarfed down immediately), and then we decided to coax her out into the dog run for the time being. As sweet as she was, she was rather, ah, fragrant, and I had no idea if she was housebroken, plus Licorice wasn’t feeling too kindly about this visitor. She would need to stay outside. So first I got her outside the screen porch, but she was not willing to leave without Monkey.

Hey you! Delicious boychild! I LOVE YOU! Come with me!! I HAVE MANY KISSES!

Monkey helped me get her out into the run. We closed her in, and then, of course, she started to cry. I was about to feel just terrible, but then she saw a squirrel and went bounding after it.

Otto took Monkey to school and I went back to work. A little while before Animal Control came, I let her out of the run and she was all I REMEMBER YOU! YOU ARE MY NEW MOMMY! I LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH! Of course, when the nice lady came to get her, StrayPuppy decided SHE was her new mommy, so it was all good. I was assured that either someone would come claim her or she would be readily adopted, and off they went.

So. Three lost dogs in the space of a week.

I realize our time at Hippie School has made me more susceptible to the woo-woo, but a few weeks ago I started researching autism service dogs. They are impossibly expensive, another mouth to feed, another logistical issue, and obviously a huge commitment. Plus we got a 12-pound hypoallergenic dog as a pet because 1) we didn’t want a large dog and 2) we have allergies. There are a million reasons why this is an untenable prospect for our family. And yet. With changes afoot and Monkey needing more support… I just… keep coming back to this. And the dogs, they keep coming back to him. Coincidence? Maybe.

But it’s starting to feel an awful lot like a message from the universe.


  1. RuthWells

    The universe is definitely communicating something….

  2. Anonymous

    Okay I am just going to put this out there for whatever it’s worth.

    My husband has Asperger’s. He is in his thirties. He just, for lack of a better word, “gets” dogs, and they “get” him- in a way he just doesn’t seem to be able to relate to human beings sometimes. His best friends are his animals. Having them near him calms and centers him. His dogs drive me nuts, as I often have to do the “work” of caring for them, but in all honesty they are so much more important to him than they are inconvenient to me. I will add that I have a chihuahua but it’s the two big dogs- Labs- that he is most connected to. It’s like they communicate unconsciously- which my husband absolutely can’t do with people.

    I do believe that the Universe sends us all messages, if we are only open to receiving them. Maybe this is one of those times.

  3. meghann

    Y’all are so getting a new dog. Lol.

    If you don’t, after school is out for the summer, I can bring Ryan and our dog up for playdates with Monkey.

  4. amanda

    What about a labradoodle. Big, and while no dog is perfectly hypoallergenic, maybe better than some? We have two and they are the funniest, sweetest dogs ever!

  5. Nelson's Mama

    Meghann is a wise woman. Your heart has already decided.

  6. Arnebya

    Our kids want a dog so very badly. And I want them to have a pet. But daddy is gravely allergic (eyes swell shut, he gets hives, and I think popping two Benadryl, a Primatene Mist, 4 tsp of Claritin, two puffs of an inhaler, and three shots of tequila is probably not the best long-term prescription just for us to be able to give the kids a puppy). I’m researching hypo-allergenic dogs but I’m wary about the commitment (and the money in buying and feeding and please let’s not discuss it again until spring because I don’t want to leave the house in winter; I damn sure don’t want to walk a dog). Maybe fish!

    Separately, I’m glad the dogs all had happy endings. I’ve not been having the best of luck with strays in our neighborhood the past few months so I’m glad there are people willing to give a damn about wanderers, especially those with collars. Also, squirrel!

  7. Jen H.

    Yes, dog in your future. And ya’ll are good people. And Monkey deserves a bestest furry friend of his own.

  8. Megan

    Second Amanda – I don’t know if Standard poodles are used for therapy dogs, but they are lovely animals and very bright, and as said, less allergenic than some.

    A doggie solution sounds like such a magnificent one for Monkey if everything else can slide into place properly.

    Just glad there are options out there!

  9. emily

    Sounds like you know what your family needs :). Perhaps you can go to a shelter? A lot of dogs without double coats (boxers, pitties, greyhounds) are less of a problem to allergy sufferers than double coated breads (labs, goldens, shepherds). Alternately, look for a schnauzer, poodle or some terrier breeds as they have more hair than fur.

  10. liz

    I’ve heard Portuguese Water Dogs and Standard Poodles are hypo-allergenic if you are allergic to dog hair and not dander.

  11. Julie

    It does kind of sound like the Universe is saying, “Hey, Monkey needs a BIG dog!” . . . or at least a large medium sized dog. Not sure if Licorice is hearing the same message, maybe though. Who knows? If another dog shows up in Monkey’s life (or on your doorstep), maybe that’s the dog for him.

  12. Sam

    The best dogs are the ones that find you. The universe doesn’t give you too many of those so I suggest you check on the puppy–perhaps he is meant to be Monkey’s.

    I’m sorry–there is no such things as a hypo-allegenic dog, lots of washings and brushing can help tremondously for dogs that shed a lot.

  13. Liza

    The universe appears to be peppering you with big dogs. Wouldn’t it be easier to take the hint?

  14. Billie

    Tears. Monkey’s getting a dog. :)

  15. elz

    Woo woo. How many more signs do you need? Time to get another dog! Sounds like an autism assistance dog might be a great bridge for Monkey next year. Plus, Licorice needs another dog to help her control the squirrel population!

  16. Katie K.

    Never ignore the universe. It doesn’t like being ignored. The good news is, it will also help you find the best dog for your family.
    I so wish we could get a dog, but my husband has asthma/allergies, and even hypoallergenic dogs trigger an asthma attack. My daughter has anxiety and loves loves loves dogs, I have always known a dog would be a great thing for her, bue couldn’t get one. Lucky for us, the universe gave our neighbors not 1, but 2 wonderful dogs, and our neighbors are happy to let my daughter visit them, walk them, play with them whenever she likes.

  17. Aimee

    Hark, the Universe hath spoken, and it hath said WOOF.

  18. Tenessa

    Sounds like a sign to me. Big dog = warm, furry weighted blanket!

  19. Dani

    I agree with Katie K. Never ignore the universe.

  20. Jen

    Yeah, I lived close enough to Boulder for long enough that I’m a little more woo-woo than some. ;) Listen to the universe. There’s a reason. :)

  21. Kelly

    Can’t wait to meet your new dog! Hehe. ; )

  22. Nicole in WI

    I don’t usually post, but a friend of ours’ son has Aspergers – he was diagnosed in 5th grade. When he started having a lot more problems in his teens, his mom researched and they got a service dog for him. Duke is a black lab and has been nothing but a Godsend for Kasey. He calms down immediately with him. He is now 20 and still has him. I would think the universe is telling you something. :)

  23. Ruth

    I have a good friend with allergy-induced asthma who is allergic to dogs, yet owns a Golden Retriever. She has noticed that she reacts to individual dogs, not specific breeds.

    She and her husband puppy sat several friends’ dogs until they found one that didn’t trigger her allergies, then they went to the same breeder and bought that dog’s relative. It’s a technique we’re going to use when replacing Duke, because although we know there are allergies in the house, we can’t imagine being without a dog.

    (I will also add that my brother, who has serious mental health problems, is his best self with his dog. My parents wish they’d thought of getting him one sooner.)

  24. Ruth

    Just saw Nicole’s note above mine … our Duke was a yellow lab. Duke is a good name for labs. :)

  25. Kendra

    like like like like like like like…you need a like button or a star or a plus one or something :)

    I like it when you get all “woo woo” on us.

    (if you) Believe it or not, the universe has got your back :)


  26. Debbi

    Hate to sound like everyone else, but I do think this is a sign. Listen to the universe, it talks to you for a reason ;-)

  27. Jen

    My younger son has a big problem with anxiety, and the best medicine for him is to curl up on the couch with our big dog (we have a 70lb rescued pitbull). Her patience with him is (almost) neverending, and it really does him a world of good. She has also played a big part in keeping my husband going during his latest major depressive episode. It is another mouth to feed, more vet bills to pay, and the logistics of having a big dog are definitely more difficult than a little dog (as my kids get larger, I am seriously questioning how we are going to fit both of them and the dog in the car), but at least for us, it has been worth it.

  28. Melanie

    Check out labradoodles! They are supposed to be hypoallergenic.. although that really depends on if they get their lab fur or poodle hair in their gene soup.

    My monkey had a lab that, although not a trained service dog, was in fact, the best therapy dog for him ever. He couldn’t hug a person, but oh, that dog got lots of hugs! He was able to talk to her when he couldn’t find words to talk to anyone else. Her whole life she catered to that boy. She loved all of us, but she seemed to know when he needed her and she wouldn’t leave his side. She passed away at the ripe old age of 12… My son was 16, and although it was a difficult time for him, he really was able to see him make the transition from dog to human. He started to hug me more… and was able to talk more.. It was almost as if, Jessie had done her job, and taught him what he needed to know, and left so he could graduate and practice all he had learned. I know, a little cheesy, but I swear it’s all true!

  29. Paul

    My son has issues also, but the constant presence of our German Shepard helps him daily. Yes another dog certainly has its inherent hassles, but our family believes the good outweighs the bad.

  30. Katie in MA

    YES! YES! It’s a message! Oh! Think of all the blog fodder! Um, I mean, all the good it will do for your son!! (Yes, that’s it!) You should totally get another dog, and not just because then *I* don’t have to cave and get a dog for my kiddos, because I can adore YOUR doggy instead. Or something.

    Also: I think you should revive the WCS merchandise. Specifically, I would like a t-shirt with that cute little lost puppy and the words: I HAVE MANY KISSES!

    That is all. :)

  31. Leanner

    My sister-in-law and family have two labradoodles and it is a perfect match for them. Brother-in-law is very allergic and they live in Black Forest Colorado, literally a forest and they have a large lot. Because of where they live they dogs spend a lot of time outside, less in the winter, and BIL does just fine, as do my dh and my self. They are BIG dogs, great with kids, and well basically like Labradors. Since I’m sure that getting another dog is pretty much alreadynandone deal, Labradoodles are a great option.

    My kids desperately want a dog, dh could easily be persuaded, and the pro dog argument is strong what with both my kids having special needs, 8 & 5, the 5 yo an Aspie. I stand firm in my NO DOGS position. Until the 2 of them can be independent getting dressed, bathed, and the like, plus show some level of responsibility I have to be the meanie. I can’t even manage to keep the fish tank clean!

  32. Angela

    *sniffsniff* Crying from all the sweet doggy comments! I am allergic to dogs and cats, but have a 10 lb poodle who doesn’t trigger allergies at all, and poodles don’t shed. And when I’m upset, all she wants to do is sit on my lap and licklicklick, she really is wanting to help me feel better! Sweetest and smartest dog ever.

  33. Misty

    StrayPuppy looks just like my Lucy who we let out a year ago and haven’t seen since. She was microchipped, but we have not heard anything about her. We live in Missouri, so chances are its not her. But she made me think of my Lucy and that made me smile.

  34. Sheila

    I can’t wait to hear what you name the new pup!

  35. Amanda

    I would like to comment to the anonymous person way up there… I also am married to a man with Aspergers. He is also in his 30’s. He hates dogs, but LOVES his cats. (ALL 5 of them). I sure would like to talk with you

    Now to Mir, autism dogs are great and I often wish I could have one for my son. Keep us posted as I am curious to what you decide to do and how it turns out.

  36. Amanda

    Wow, someone my sentence “I sure would like to talk with you” was cut short. The rest was this…. I sure would like to talk with you and if you are interested contact me at dabe at intrstar dot net.

  37. Joanne

    Two dogs are actually less work… they play/fight/ tolerate each other and wear each other out…. just sayin’.

    and this is Licorice’s big chance to big the “older sister”, or at least the alpha dog for a moment.

  38. alihua

    Hugs from big dogs are always therapuetic…Aspie or not! I love my little dog but sometimes miss the full-body hugs I would get from the boxers that my parents always had.

    Also, “delicious boychild” is what I imagine my dog is thinking as she cleans up the 2 year old after meals. What? He’s a second child and it’s easier than washcloths.

  39. Mandy

    exactly – the right dog will find you. and it sounds like the perfect medicine for Monkey. Maybe you could start looking for “Big Sister” shirts for Licorice….

    don’t ignore the universe – you might soon have a pack of dogs in your yard!

  40. ste

    When the stray showed up at your house, I kept thinking it was going to be Monkey’s new dog!

  41. Anna

    StrayPuppy *is* adorable.

    I am laughing at the other breed suggestions, remembering the dog whisperer and all that you went through before getting Licorice.

    Well, if it works out, that would be wonderful. I don’t envy you and your decision. We have two cats that wouldn’t take well to a dog, but we’d all really like one.

  42. vanessa

    just get a big dog, asap. how about a poodle? they have hair, not fur, and they are truly delightful. (STANDARD poodle).

  43. Kim

    My Rosie was a Standard Poodle/Portuguese Water Dog mix and never triggered my allergies, or a friend’s much more severe ones. I would LOVE to have another Portie – that dog was the kind of dog that , five years later, non-family-members will still go on at length about her wonderfulness. I miss her every day. But poodles are really cool, too, and Standards are nice an d big. Two-dog family!

  44. Rachel

    I’d say the universe isn’t sending a nice quiet email message, it’s shouting show tunes from the rooftop. Let us know what you name your new big dog. =)

  45. Karen

    LIsten to the Universe, Mir!… Please go get that dog who loves you all already. Go.

    You’re welcome.

  46. Karen

    oooh, and I know from experience… Licorice would have her nose out of joint for a while, but she would get over it. Really, she would. As long as newdog likes HER, you’re golden. Actually sheppard-like. Because that dog has some shepperd in it. SO cute.

  47. Veronica

    My son has autism and we have a Border Collie. When he gets really upset, he will throw himself at her, or she will come and sit with him. It’s really amazing to watch. Our newest cat will also sit on him when he’s melting down and let him hold her.

    Basically, animals are pretty amazing.

  48. Carrie

    Maybe the universe, but it sounds like angels singing to me. But you already know…Monkey needs this and you will move mountains for him.

  49. addy

    I am voting standard poodle. Intelligent, gentle, loving and almost hypo-allergenic. Does Monkey get to name his new dog? Or will it be a family vote? WOOF-WOOF (hear that the universe is communicating)

  50. angie

    Chiming in to agree that standard poodles, or almost any of the standard poodle mixes, would be a great choice. We have a golden doodle who is on the smallish side — barely 50 pounds. Smart, very easily trained, overly friendly, and yes, a bit exhuberant — she’s starting to settle down nicely (finally) at 3 1/2 years old.

    One of the differences to consider between poodles and poodle mixes is grooming. My golden doodle does not need professional grooming/haircuts, but does need to be brushed frequently to keep down the mats.

  51. Daisy

    I hear you. Oh, I hear you loud and clear! As my boy, er, young man gets closer to independence and as his vision worsens (sigh), I wonder if I should get allergy shots so that he can have a seeing eye dog.

  52. Tammy

    I can’t add anything meaningful to what’s already been said, so I’ll just say Good Luck with your next adventure, whatever it may be! :)

  53. Ickaboo

    It IS a message.

    As much as I want to throw shoes at my my big, dumb dog almost every day, I take it all back when I see my boy positively radiate happy because the stupid a-hole animal adores him. I have never seen a more patient, tolerant, and sensitive animal…even if he does eat my bathroom trash (ahem.) and bark like mad at NOTHING. ALL OF THE TIME.

  54. jennP

    Is there a possibility that Monkey could volunteer at a shelter for animals? he would get to bond with various dogs as well as develop responsibility and skills, AND it wouldn’t be a commitment as big a getting another dog… :) it would be kinda like free therapy in a way.

  55. Brigitte

    Start prepping Licorice now! :-D

  56. Dawn

    I have a friend who has an autism service dog for her 11yo son. That dog is the best thing ever for him. I can hook you up with her on Facebook if you want to talk to her.

  57. Laura

    It is sounding to me like Monkey is finding his calling in life.

  58. Heidi

    It’s either get a dog for Monkey, or prepare to spend a LOT of your time dealing with a steady stream of strays. The Universe has a lotta them, yo, and is infinitely patient.

  59. Hope

    Another vote for the labradoodle–the Australian Labradoodle. They were bred to be be service dogs for people with allergies, and unlike some american Labradoodles, they are consistent in temperment and non-shedding.

    I have one. I could give you a couple links to Australian Labradoodle breeders.

    They are expensive, but the woo-woo will find a way.

  60. Reb

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but if you have to fundraise for a service dog, I’d be happy to chip in. It sounds like they’re life-changing.

  61. Tracy B

    I would say call Animal control and see if LOSTPUPPY has been claimed. If not, you really should claim him. :)

  62. Sarah Kate

    I’d definitely say Standard Poodle. They’re the easiest dog to train (especially potty train) and completely hypoallergenic. Though when looking for a hypoallergenic dog you want a dog that has hair not fur. And he doesn’t neccessarily need a SERVICE dog. He may just need a companion. Though if you want to get him a service dog you can certainly get a pup, train him to be a service dog yourself, and have him tested for half the cost of purchasing a trained service animal. And you get an extra year or 2 with him because most service dog breeders/trainers won’t sell them till they’re fully trained which can take a year or 2. That’s what we did with my German Shepherd. We got him as a pet and so I’d have a protector (big baby that his is lol) and noticed that he started picking up on when I had a migraine coming on (I suffer from cronic ones). We got him trained (took him to a really good trainer who trains drug dogs and therapy dogs) then got him certified when he was a year old. Though techinquely according to the law as written he didn’t need to be certified all I needed was a disability that fell under the ADA and to claim him as my service dog.


    I have the feeling autism falls under the ADA. I’d see though if trainer in your area would go with you to pick the pup though. They’d be able to see which ones would have the best traits for service dog training. And let the pup pick Monkey they’ll be more in tune that way. I’d also certainly reccommend getting the pup certified if you decide to go the service animal route. It can make life easier when going into public places, when Monkey starts school, and if you fly.

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