We went to Gainesville last night to grab a bite. Driving down Highway 129, we crossed over one of the two bridges over Lake Lanier in our path. At one bridge, there is a quite nice neighborhood that sits tucked on the edge of the lake…Stone something, I think. It’s not important. My memory there is.
The landscape has changed quite a bit in that location. They are replacing the bridge and making the crossing four lanes, so the entrance to the subdivision has been demoed for a time. What used to once be a great stacked stone pillared entry is rollback trailers and mud now. But, I still remember what happened there one October evening about 10 years ago.
I was up here visiting my boyfriend (who is now my husband). We were coming back from dinner from the same little restaurant we ate at last night. The sun was casting colors across the lake and as I drove us back home, we talked about all the things young people in new love talk about.
As we approach the bridge, my inner brain recognizes something that my outer brain can’t immediately comprehend. It takes me a second or two to process. As we speed down the road, I blurt out, “That is a schnauzer!”.
Walking down the side of the highway, my eyes had recorded the clear shape, gate and stature of a schnauzer. I was certain. The dog wasn’t panicked or hurt, but it wasn’t accompanied by a person and 129 is a dangerous and busy highway – absolutely no place for an animal.
At the time, I had a miniature schnauzer that was my world. I couldn't just leave a schnauzer on the side of the road.
The next words out of my mouth are, “We have to help him!”
I check my rear view and luckily there is no one right behind me. I lock on the brakes, and swing a u turn in the middle of road. My car at the time is small enough that I can make the turn without leaving the pavement. From the corner of my eye, I see the boyfriend (now hubby), assume the "brace for impact" position.
Barreling down the road in the direction of the dog, we catch up to the pup in no time. He’s trotting down the side of the highway at a purposefully brisk pace. I pull off the road on the grassy shoulder, hit the hazard lights button and bail. I think I hear the boyfriend/hubby shout, “Do not get run over or mauled, you idiot!’…or something to that effect as I exit the car. I pay him no mind.
I jog down the highway's edge a few yards and start whistling. The pup stops, turns his head and perks up his ears. Good sign.
I give him my best, “Hey good buddy, come here baby dog, who’s a good boy??!!” cartoon voice and he changes direction and trots toward me. Within a few feet, we meet. I extend my hand like an elegant lady to a lord at a grand ball.
His demeanor is cool, but friendly. Reserved and calm, but polite. Serious, like we are equals. Like, I just stopped a gentlemen on the street to ask him the time, not stopped a dog running down the highway.
He has a collar, but no tags. (Seriously, people. A collar and no tags? Why bother?)
I grab his collar for security so he doesn’t bolt into traffic and kneel in front of him. As cars wiz by us, I gently pat him down, checking for injury or ailment, all the while talking to him softly. As I run my hands over him, he looks directly into my eyes, into my soul. Like he’s 100% more than any dog I have ever met. Like he’s totally getting what’s going on here. He knows I am trying to help and he accepts that. There are no licks. No bouncing. No trying to run away. No aggression. There was one soft ear sniff from him that conveyed a quiet, courteous affection. Then, just this stoic, beautiful boy.
While inspecting him, I noticed his pepper and salt beard smelled like lavender and parts of his rough coat were still a little damp. I figured his furnishings wouldn’t still be so white if he’d been traveling long, so he must belong to someone close. I think, let’s check close houses and if that comes up a bust, I will take him to the vet to get scanned for a micro chip in the am.
With collar in hand, I walked him back to the truck, scooped him into the back seat and shut the door. The boyfriend (now hubby) looked at me and said, “Are we getting a dog?”.
I told him my lost dog theory. We surveyed the area and saw the ’Stone Whatever” subdivision right across the street. I start the car and we drive into the entrance.
My strategy is, surely if someone has lost this beautiful little buddy and realizes it, they will be out looking. So, we will just make a lap or two through the area. Within minutes, we see a guy walking out from his house, leash in hand. So, I stop and ask him if he’s lost something.
You think, YAY! Happy ending. Well, yes and no. This is where things get a little weird.
I have this 6th sense spidey tingle thing. I can just about guess by people’s words, body language and attitude what they are really thinking. Like they tell me XYZ, but I know they REALLY think ABC. It sounds crazy, but like seriously. It’s a gift and a curse.
The owner straight up thought we tried to seal his dog. He didn’t say it. But I know that’s what he thought. I told him where we found the pup, which was outside the neighborhood, on a busy highway, hundreds of yards away from his house. He claims the dog was just bathed (I buy that, it smelled great!), then they put it in the backyard to dry. But, the gate was open. I think he thinks we took the dog from the backyard. He apparently left the gate open and his little buddy was half way to being dead on the road when we found him. He said the dog was a recent rescue (I’m now assuming retired show dog) and they had just relocated from the Macon area and not lived in that house long, so maybe the dog was confused and was trying to return to its former home.
At any rate, the guy didn’t seem super grateful (if someone found my dog, I would have been overjoyed!). He did ask me for my address to send me a thank you card, then never sent anything, (which I think is rude). That makes me think he just wanted my name to try to report me. I never heard anything from them again.
Every time I drive by that subdivision, I think of “Buddy” and that day, all in a very bittersweet way. Buddy was a prince of a pup and his owner seemed like a colossal douche. Buddy is not his name, of course. The hubby and I tried to think of his real name last night, but couldn’t. I think the owner told us and it was something complicated. But, we've called the dog Buddy ever since, because it just suited him. If Buddy is still even around, he would be at least 14 or 15 now. Hopefully, still smelling like lavender and staring into peoples’ souls with those warm, dark eyes.
Buddy was the first standard schnauzer that I ever met. Funny a chance encounter with a dog 10 years ago made THAT big of an impression on me. There really is something about this breed.