I learned an important lesson from the dog I called Butch. He just showed up one day, and I figured he'd been dumped along US 60, which runs near my house. (For what it's worth, I hope an especially warm corner of hell is reserved for anyone who'd do such a thing.)
Butch hung around most of an afternoon before "rushing" the back door to get inside with the rest of my dogs, all of whom seemed to like him. Ignoring two cats, he trotted to the living room and jumped onto the couch. Turning three times and heaving an exhausted sigh, Butch slept without moving for six hours. Then he went to the front door, scratched politely to get out and when what he had to do was done, came back and scratched to come back in.
Clearly this dog'd been a house pet, and I wondered if Butch was a throw-away after all. I got someone from the Humane Society to take his picture and hang it on the dog shelter's bulletin board, with an explanation of where the dog's owner could find him.
The day after Butch moved in with me and the other dogs, horrible sores appeared on his back. "Some kind of bite," is what the vet said. "Probably a copperhead." Dead skin, and then dead flesh sloughed off Butch's back for days. The scars, once healing began, carried ol' Butch from homeliness into the realm of ugly.
I mean serious ugly.
As in "How can something that ugly be alive?"
There was nothing "cute" about Butch. Weirdly unmatched parts made him look like something assembled from scrap pieces of dog, and his eyes didn't make you think "Something smart lives there." That'd be the last thing anybody would think.
Poor old Butch couldn't even make it as a watch dog. Whenever company came around my other dogs announced the arrival with a great hue and cry. By and by Butch usually joined in, but with an uncertain bark, like he didn't have a clue what all the noise was about. Butch just wanted a little attention, a lot of food, and freedom to doze on the couch.
The Humane Society shifted his picture from the "Found dogs" side of their bulletin board to "Looking For A Home." When people came to look him over, they never stayed long enough for a second look. Walmart gave the Humane Society an in-store bulletin board and Butch's picture was hung there, posed to hide the scars on his back. They posted my phone number too, though after six months I doubted I'd ever find a home for a forty pound dog so ugly, so dumb. I was more or less resigned to keeping him.
Then one night the phone rang and a young man's voice asked if I still had "that dog advertised at Walmart." Twenty minutes later a little blue car pulled into the driveway, a woman's voice calling "Cole?" even before it stopped.
That ugliest of dogs shot off the porch and into the yard, where he frantically and foolishly tried to climb fence he could have easily jumped. I let the young couple in and once Butch/Cole settled down they told me his story.
Cole - - his real name - - was the college couple's surrogate baby, and they lived in a rented house across the ridge, on Christy Creek. Checking a map, we guessed the dog traveled six or seven miles to get to my place. Seems he'd sneaked out of the house one day and run off with some other dogs. After the copperhead or whatever it was that bit him, the dog probably ran in a blind panic and only accidentally ran to a place as dog friendly as mine.
Distraught when their "baby" didn't come home, the youngster who called herself "Cole's mommy" went to the dog shelter every evening for three months, hoping someone would have found her Cole and left him there. Class and work schedules kept her away during the hours she could have seen his picture on the bulletin board. The couple ran an ad in the paper, but I missed it.
It was the picture at Walmart that reunited them.
"Mommy and Daddy" took Cole home, and I was surprised how much, for a few days I missed ol' Butch. But as I said, that lost forty pounds of dog left an important lesson for me to ponder, a lesson I'm glad to have learned. And this is it: friends, you can't get so ugly or dumb that someone in this world won't love you...