I don’t know how things are going for you right now, but my life is a little hectic right. My house is in full holiday craziness, guests are due any day, and the end-of-the year rush is on at work. Forgive me, but I need a break from the (sometimes) serious subject matter of Fully Vetted.

Uplifting stories are a holiday tradition (speaking of which, I need to schedule my annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life). So rather than discussing some dread disease or controversy surrounding the practice of veterinary medicine, let me share with you the almost true story of one of my dogs. His name was P.D., which stood for Porch Dog (the reason for this will become evident soon). The human characters in the following tale are fabricated, but how P.D. came into my life is essentially the same.

The sign reading "Welcome to Culpepper" flashed by the window. Polly slumped deeper into the backseat as her father slowed the car and flicked on the turn signal. "More like Dull-pepper," Polly muttered. Her mother peered at her over the headrest.

“"hat’s enough of that, Polly Anne. Your father and I looked for a long time to find this place. Try to be optimistic. At least you’re getting that dog you’ve always wanted," Mom said.

Polly rolled her eyes and thought, He’s not my dog.

"What kind of people leave their dog behind when they move anyway?" she asked.

"I don’t know, honey," said Dad, "but there he is." Polly sat up quickly but only caught a glimpse of a fluffy brown tail disappearing underneath her new home.

Dad stopped the car in the driveway. "I guess he’s a little skittish," he said. "Why don’t you go see if you can make friends with him while Mom and I do some unpacking."

Polly walked toward the house and crouched down. She could just make out a pair of eyes studying her from within the darkness under the porch. "Hey there, buddy," Polly crooned softly, patting her knee. The dog scooted further under cover. Polly continued talking gently to him, but he moved deeper into the shadows until she could no longer see him.

Polly stood up, put her hands on her hips, and stared under the porch. "Maybe he’s hungry," she thought and headed for the kitchen. After a few minutes of searching through boxes, she found a bag of dog food and a plastic bowl.

Kneeling in front of the dog’s hiding place, Polly rattled the food inside the bowl. Nothing happened. She sang "come out, come out wherever you are." Silence. She tried tossing pieces of food under the porch, but the dog didn’t budge. As it began to get dark, Polly sighed and placed the bowl on the ground. Calling out, "Have a good night Porch Dog," she went inside to start unpacking her things.

*

Tomorrow: The conclusion of the story and a little more about the real "Porch Dog"

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Dog on the porch by Annie Miller / via Flickr