Gulf News

Trea­sur­ing the lost when they are found

- ■ Kevin Martin is a jour­nal­ist based in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. Kevin Martin

Cute is a word re­served for ba­bies ... and pup­pies. “Isn’t he just cute?”, Or, “Gee, it’s so cute and cud­dly.” Both in­fants and pups have some­thing about them that draw the word out of us. I’m not sure I’ve heard kit­tens la­belled cute, although I could be wrong, me not be­ing a cat per­son. Any­how, my son called up the other day af­ter re­turn­ing home from work. “Hi dad,” he said, and fol­lowed that with, “Aren’t you so cute?” That knocked me for a six, firstly be­cause I can­not ever re­call be­ing called cute, not even by my par­ents (who may have used the word be­hind my back, when I was a tiny bun­dle of joy, as I hope I was to them.)

But no, apart from that, I’ve never been any­where prox­i­mate with ‘cute’, so it came as a sur­prise. But only for two nanosec­onds. In that time, I re­alised that his first sen­tence “Hi dad” was in­deed ad­dressed to me, but his sec­ond was cer­tainly not. He was ad­dress­ing his new­found friend — a stray pup — that had fol­lowed him up the drive to his home and was de­mand­ing his at­ten­tion. His third sen­tence was: “I’m in a bit of a pickle, dad.” At first, I thought he may have lost his job, what with re­dun­dan­cies be­com­ing as com­mon as ap­ples. But he pro­ceeded to tell me about the pup that had lit­er­ally dogged his tracks home from the bus stop and was re­fus­ing all at­tempts to find its way home, wher­ever home was. “What should I do?” asked my son.

“I can­not leave it out­side, it’s al­ready quite dark and it’s so tiny, and so ... cute. I’ll send you a pic.”

Which he did.

I saw this ball of woolly black hair gaz­ing into the cam­era, head aslant, as though it were au­di­tion­ing for a role. No in­deed, you can­not leave it out, I agreed. So it was de­cided that he’d give it a home for the night, make his old, no-longer-used quilt into a cosy bed (win­ter be­ing around) and of­fer it a saucer of milk. In the morn­ing, it was de­cided that I’d drive over to his place and take it to the near­est vet who, we felt, might be able to take it off our hands and find it a place some­where. It’s funny, I re­mem­ber think­ing, how a per­fectly or­di­nary day can sud­denly be dis­rupted by a ‘sit­u­a­tion’ that comes out of the blue.

I also re­mem­ber think­ing how nice it would be if stray and lost pup­pies could talk. Twice my son took it back to the front gate in the hope it would start mak­ing its way home, so he could fol­low it, see that it was safe, and hand it back. Twice it re­fused at­tempts to ‘see it off’. It fol­lowed him back in­side. The thing is, it was prob­a­bly afraid of the dark and, see­ing it had found a kind hu­man, had de­cided to stick with the present rather than ven­ture back out.

Any­how, an hour passed. I called the house and was told the pup was “en­joy­ing him­self”, sniff­ing his way around the rooms and al­ways end­ing up at the fridge door, where he prob­a­bly sniffed more food pos­si­bil­i­ties. An­other hour went by then my phone lit up. “It’s all been sorted,” said my son. Two lit­tle chil­dren and their dad had knocked on his door, in­quir­ing if he’d seen a run­away pup!

On be­ing asked to de­scribe it they did so ac­cu­rately. In the midst of which de­scrip­tion, the lit­tle run­away turned up at the front door him­self! Turns out they are my son’s neigh­bours, three doors down. My son, who is him­self adopted, told me later: “I doubt I could have given it away if the real own­ers hadn’t showed up.”

Twice my son took it back to the front gate in the hope it would start mak­ing its way home, so he could fol­low it, see that it was safe, and hand it back. Twice it re­fused at­tempts to ‘see it off’.

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