in which I lose Paul, or he loses me

I took Paul out for a walk late last night. I know that it took place after playing Overwatch with Alice and Neil, but I’m not sure if it was before or after I finished watching the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher.

In any event, I decided that I would take out the old scooter so that we could cover ground more quickly. My intention was to take us along a similar route to the long walk from the night before. I brought us all the way down until we hit Little York, observed that there were still cars speeding along it, and brought us back into the relative safety and quiet of the neighborhood.

I took the first right coming north, and went to the cul-de-sac at the end. There’s a gravel trail that runs tangential to the cul-de-sac and perpendicular to the street. I circled the cul-de-sac a couple of times, and then noticed that I had lost track of Paul. Across the way, I saw a figure standing by the doorstep who retreated indoors after retrieving a couple of items from the porch.

I whistled for Paul a couple of times, and listened for the familiar sound of his dogtag jingling against the buckle of his collar. I looked from the gravel trail towards Little York, using the headlights of passing cars to see if he might have wound up becoming roadkill in the short time since I last saw him. Beginning to despair, I scootered my way back to the intersection, and whistled once more. I looked back towards the cul-de-sac, hoping to catch a glimpse of Paul running my way. Nothing.

For a moment, I seriously considered the possibility that he might have decided to go snooping about Little York. I made one more futile trip down the street, stared at Little York a while longer, and decided that I had better return home.

I had now become a man who’d most certainly lost his dog.

At this thought, my mind went back to the time in Columbia, MO, when I thought I’d lost Paul for good. I reminded myself that all good dogs come back home, and double-timed it back.

Sure enough, I caught sight of his small form near the front door of my home. What a sense of relief, knowing that he was safely accounted for! He came down the driveway to greet me, and all was good.

I recall the one time that I brought Paul as a puppy to church, back in the spring of 2011. One of the older men commented that owning dogs was good training for having kids: incidents like this provide me with a small window into how my parents must have felt on those many occasions that I gave them cause for concern.

The truest sign of love can be found in the little nervousness that you feel upon realizing that you might have lost the object of your affections for good.