It was a nice day for a walk. The sky was blue, with dots of white clouds here and there. The ground was snow white, with dots of yellow here and there. I always look for the blue sky. Charlie always looks for the yellow snow.
He found some right away at the base of the hydro pole that stands at the mouth of our driveway. After he had finished exploring it, he looked up at me.
“Was I a rescue dog?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “We got you from a breeder. Why do you ask?”
Charlie set his back leg on the ground and nodded. “I think it’s a good thing when people find a dog in distress and put it into a safe and secure home,” he said.
“I agree,” I said. “although if we had done that five years ago, you wouldn’t be here today.”
“Oh yeah,” he said. “That’s right. You could have had a pug. They’re always getting into trouble.”
We were about half-way along the block when Charlie stopped and looked up at me.
“Basil left a message at the hydro pole back there” he said. “He heard there’s a rescue family coming to the neighbourhood.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Well,” I said, “he knows more than I do. I haven’t heard anything about this.”
“Basil always knows these things,” Charlie said with that silly grin of his. It’s true. Basil is a big old Airedale who knows everything that happens in the neighbourhood. And around the world. His people always put yesterday’s newspaper down on his bed.
“True enough,” I answered. “Did you ask him what a rescue family is supposed to be?”
“As a matter of fact, I did,” Charlie said as we walked along. “It is a family that got into distress a long way away and came here to make a new life. Sort of like Peggy.”
Peggy lives down the street and around the corner. She lost a leg in a car crash down in Grenada when she was a puppy. They would have killed her down there so an organization came forward and saved her by finding a home in our neighbourhood.
“Peggy got lucky, alright,” I said. “She’s a very nice dog. She gets around pretty good on three legs.”
“Exactly. She fits right in here,” said Charlie. “And your government didn’t give her a hard time at the border.”
“Of course not. Why would they?” I asked. “As long as she was healthy and had a place to stay, why turn her back?”
Charlie grunted in the dismissive way he does when he thinks he’s getting the better of me. When we arrived at his favourite cedar hedge, he stopped and sniffed around. When he found the right spot, he turned, squatted and dis his business.
“What do you people have against rescue families?” he asked as I stooped with the poop bag.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I don’t even know what a rescue family is, and I’m sure no one would refuse to help one if it ever showed up.”
“Maybe they go by a different name in your world,” Charlie said. “Basil says you call them refugees.”
“Oh right,” I said. “I know about them. They come from places like Syria but some people don’t want them here.”
“Oh? Why not?” Charlie asked.
“I’m all for them,” I said, “but some people don’t like them.
“Oh? Why not?” Charlie asked.
“Well, for one thing, they look different,” I said.
“Look different?” Charlie scoffed. “Did you ever see two rescue dogs that look the same? You don’t keep them out because of that.”
I know when he’s building a case, but I often don’t see it coming until it’s too late.
“Well, yes, I know that,” I said, “But they still don’t trust them because they speak a completely different language …”
“Language?” Charlie broke in before I could finish my thought. “That’s your trouble right there. You have so many that most people don’t know what the others are saying. Us dogs aren’t like that at all. We bark, we howl, we whimper and whine. It all means the same wherever we come from. I could tell you right now what the rescue family wants.”
I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and told him to sit. He did. “OK,” I said, “tell me.”
Charlie looked up at me and shook his head in wonder. “They want just what you want,” he said. “They want to find a home and put their kids into school. They want to find a job and buy some groceries. Nothing more than that. Why can’t they?”
“I don’t know about that,” I said, “but I do know there’ll be an extra treat in your food bowl when we get home. Come on, we’re almost there.”