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The coincidental Christmas dog

By Celeste Ward

Special to the Salisbury Post

At some point in most kids’ lives, they ask Santa for a puppy, kitty, pony or some other pet for Christmas — even if that kid is 79 years old. My husband, Bill Ward, the guy you may see riding around Salisbury on his bright red scooter chair, is still that kid. However, as our primary household caregiver, chauffeur, cook and pet mom (to three rescued cats and my mischievous cockatoo, Sir Hedrick of Salisbury), I kept saying, “No more pets.” And so, the interwoven events of this story begin.

Two weeks ago, we took our periodic trip to Williamsburg. Just prior to this trip, I had a premonition or some sixth-sense dream that we were going to somehow find a dog. Whether it was a stray that wandered near our hotel or a free puppy from a holiday litter, I was not sure. I just had this feeling that we were going to experience an encounter of the canine variety, and I was going to have to explain to the hotel manager why we suddenly had a dog in our room.

Meanwhile back to reality. While I was packing the car to leave, Abby (our rambunctious kitty) scampered out the front door and off to hide in the bushes. Obviously, she knew we were up to something that did not include her. Annoying, but not a huge worry because our pet sitter and a bag of treats would soon coax her back inside.

Wrong. When we got home five days later, Abby was still missing. I began looking for her and calling our neighbors. No one had seen her. She must have found a really good hiding place this time. But my worst fear was that one of the big hawks that had been scoping out our yard, had carried her off for dinner.

Panic was erupting. My next trip was to the Rowan Animal Shelter, hoping a Good Samaritan had found her. Several other darling little kitties were meowing at me to take them home but, alas, no Abby.

Now for the parallel part of this saga. As previously mentioned, Bill has been “strongly hinting” that he wanted a dog. So while I was at the shelter why not look at the dogs? One of the little voices in my head said, “No! Go home and find Abby.” Another little voice said, “Oh go ahead, there’s no harm in just looking.” Wrong again.

So off through the dog kennels I went with one of the shelter associates. That’s when it hit me. Not exactly my Williamsburg vision, but there he sat with a slightly wagging tale, the sweetest demeanor ever and a wishful stare.

He is precious, but he is also much bigger than the fluffy little lap dogs I had years ago. I’m told that his name is Duke and he was “owner surrendered” due to less than desirable circumstances. He is a black lab mix — and he is blind.

OMG, my brain is spinning. I cannot leave this sweet guy here with such a slim chance of adoption. Have I just lost my mind? Probably. I didn’t come here to adopt a dog. So what? I’m supposed to be looking for our missing Abby. What will the cats think of him? Hedrick will be so jealous.

It’s almost time for the shelter to close. Should I just take him home? No, if Bill gets a dog, he should select it himself. I have to tell Bill about this dog.

So home I go to deliver the news: No Abby, but one big blind dog.

Fast forward: ’Tis the season and the Lord does work miracles. Abby sashayed herself back home late Sunday afternoon completely oblivious to the fact that she had caused me such panic. Bill and I went back to the shelter on Monday, and after just a few minutes it was quite clear that we were bringing Duke home. It sounds so cliché, but it truly was like we had been together forever. And Bill was finally getting a dog for Christmas.

Whether premonition, coincidence, divine guidance or whatever you choose to call it, we got Duke and Duke got us. Win-win. Merry Christmas.

Celeste Ward is a writer and photographer living in Salisbury with her husband, Bill, and an array of rescued pets

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