I bathed and fed a stray dog, and it ran away | tracey folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Shortly after I rented my first apartment, I found a large dog wandering the street outside my apartment building. The dog seemed lost and friendly, and I love dogs. We were a perfect match. I decided to take the dog home.

I cooed and petted the dog and eventually led it to my ground-floor apartment and fed it leftovers. I took it into my tiny bathroom and coaxed it into the bathtub. The dog didn’t complain or attempt to jump out of the tub as I ran the warm water over its muddy front paws.

The dog smelled rank, and I thought it might make a better companion if it smelled like baby shampoo. To my surprise and delight, washing the dog was no trouble at all. The dog was friendly and stood perfectly still as I washed, rinsed, and repeated until the bottom of my bathtub looked like mud.

I didn’t think the process through. What were my next steps? What was my goal? Why was I bathing a large stray dog ​​in my bathtub? Where did it come from, anyhow? Was this my dog ​​now? I had more questions than answers, and here’s one more: What kind of a person lures a dog home and then gives it a bath without looking for its owners first.

I didn’t have a well-formulated plan, but I had a vague sense that I had just inadvertently adopted a dog. I wasn’t sure whether that would be a problem when my husband got home from work, but I was about to find out.

When my husband arrived home from work, I was just toweling the dog dry with one of his fluffy bath towels. To my surprise and delight, my husband was surprised and delighted.

He quickly took to the idea of ​​having a dog, even one that I’d led into our tiny apartment from the street. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be long before our new dog got other ideas. It didn’t want to be our new dog after all.

After being fed, bathed, and gently dried with my husband’s best towel, the dog suddenly became agitated. It barked and nipped at me. Fortunately, it didn’t break the skin, but it was clear the dog was ready to go. It made a beeline for the front door and demanded to be set free.

The dog stood at the door to my apartment, barking and growing until I let it outside, and then it just disappeared down the same street where I’d first seen it. It ran at such a quick clip that I couldn’t tell where it went; it just went.

I wondered where the dog ended up. I still do. Best-case scenario, the dog wasn’t a stray dog ​​at all and went home to its confused owners, inexplicably smelling like Johnson’s Calming Baby Shampoo. There are worse things that can happen to a stray dog ​​besides smelling like lavender.

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