I was jogging down the marina boardwalk one day last week, my two loyal yellow labs, Daisy and Molly, right by my side. It had been quite a while since we were out together like this and the warm sun felt great on my face. I had locked myself away in my apartment after the death of my beloved black lab, Duke, only taking the girls out when necessary. 

But that day I looked at them and realized how my melancholy had affected them. They had become as listless and lost as I. Well, this wasn’t fair to anyone – staying cooped up inside mourning – so off we went on that beautiful day in May. At first it felt like forced fun, just not right being at our favorite place without our buddy, Duke. We started out slowly, three sad sacks just moseying down by the sea, but soon the smell of saltwater and the spray of the ocean began to invigorate us and we picked up our pace. 

“Yeah, we needed this, girls. It’s good to be back outside, isn’t it?” and Daisy and Molly looked up at me, their big brown eyes happy again. 

We rounded a curve in the boardwalk and off in the distance I noticed a big Cadillac with tinted windows parked outside one of the warehouses. We drew closer and I saw the chauffeur leaning against the car, working on his tan. As we jogged by, the guy yelled out “Yo, pal! Looks like you lost your dog.” 

Caught off guard by his statement, I stopped abruptly, nearly tumbling over the girls. With a quizzical expression on my face, I looked at the guy. Without saying a word, he pointed to the leash I had tied around my waist – Duke’s leash – for old time’s sake. 

“Oh, this” I said somewhat sheepishly, and before I realized what was happening, I told this total stranger my sad story about Duke. 

To my utter disbelief this hulking goon of a guy broke down like a baby, telling me about his dog that died when he was a kid. Just then the door to the warehouse flew open and a couple of very large, intimidating men came out followed by a short squatty guy chomping on a cigar and sporting the most ridiculous toupee I’d ever seen. 

This little guy was obviously the boss. He walked around the back of the car and stood there shaking his head. “Mama mia, Bruno, it’s been twenty-plus years since Spot died. I get it. I’m a dog lover myself but enough’s enough. This happens every friggin time. Now say bye bye to the nice doggies and get in the car.” 

Wiping his nose on his sleeve, Bruno did as instructed. It was only when the car door opened that I spotted the lustrous black lab in the front seat and my heart stopped for a second. 

“Papa’s here, Leonardo” said the man with the toupee. “Andiamo, Bruno! Let’s go home.” 

NAR © 2019

Reposted for Fandango’s #FOWC

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