The biting cold weather forced the big red-haired dog to curl tightly into a ball and hide its nose under its big muddy feet. Lao Hong lived outside Larry's barber shop and slept on a broken little rug. The mongrel panted for a while. Every time he saw a child coming out of the small grocery store near the barber shop, he would look at them with hopeful eyes, and some children would give it something. On Valentine's Day, someone would leave some heart-shaped candy on the old red rug.
Lao Hong once had a companion, a scrawny black dog. This pair of loyal companions always curled up to sleep together, but after the cold pandemic, the black dog disappeared, and Lao Hong wagged his tail no longer wagged to show mourning for his friend's departure. When a familiar friend bent over and patted it, Lao Hong didn't even bother to lift his head to take a look.
One day, someone lost a puppy outside, and Lao Hong immediately adopted it, circling the puppy like a hen. In the cold night, Lao Hong also let the happy puppy lie on his carpet, and also let the puppy sleep by the wall and sleep in a cold place outside.
But the puppy soon disappeared, and the old dog was alone again.
For a moment, I really wanted to take it home. Often it's just that hopeful look in my eyes that any homeless dog or cat can win me immediate friendship, but my husband has said several times that we can no longer adopt lost animals, and I know he's right, but sometimes he just forgets that it takes a lot of courage to find a way to look back at those hungry stray dogs and cats without emotion, but Lao Hong always seems to be full, so I decided to make friends with him.
One day, I accidentally learned from the barber shop owner that the boss would feed Lao Hong every day, "and never buy cheap dog food," she laughed, "buy the most expensive ones."
I stopped by the barbershop to tell Larry how grateful I was that he could feed the dog, but he didn't feel the gratitude and insisted that the dog didn't matter to him at all, "I've always wanted to give it away," Larry grumbled. He can't fool me.
After Lao Hong disappeared in a heavy snowstorm, I used to go to the barber shop and ask, "Larry, where will it go?"
"I'm glad it's gone! It's a big hassle, and it's going to cost me a lot of money to keep it." Larry didn't look at me at all, and continued to cut the customer's hair.
But later his wife told me that Larry drove for miles just to get Lao Hong back.
On the third day, the dog reappeared and I ran to it and patted its head, but the big dry tail stopped waving or even raising its head. I touched its nose and found it was hot and dry. I rushed into the barbershop immediately and shouted: "Larry, Lao Hong is sick."
Larry continued to cut the guests' hair, "I know, don't eat it!"
"Where do you think it went?"
"It's hard to verify, but I think it must have been dragged out by someone protesting in the mall. Look at its legs. It looks like it came back here after walking for days."
I lowered my voice: "Larry, let it in."
The customers in the store seemed very interested in our conversation.
"This is a place to do business, I can't do that."
I had to leave the barbershop, and for the next few hours, I was trying to find someone to help Lao Hong. The Society for the Protection of Animals said they could take the dog, but I had to take him across Atlanta for an hour first, but I didn't know how to get there, and plus, no one wanted to adopt a sick dog, so they had to euthanize him. I called another veterinarian, but as soon as he heard the situation, he said he didn't do free clinics. Neither the police from the fire department nor the manager of the mall could help. My friends weren't interested either. I knew I had to take Lao Hong home despite my husband's various regulations on stray animals, but I hadn't brought any animals home for a long time. That night, after I prepared dinner, I revealed my words, and my husband asked coldly: "Do you want me to see the dog that came back with you?" In fact, what he meant was: "I'll do you a little favor, but we can't keep the dog."
I ran to the attic, brought a big suitcase and a blanket, grabbed some aspirin and a pediatric antibiotic, warmed up some milk, and finally I announced, "I'm ready!" After squeezing the four kids into the car, we set off for the mall, the snow still kept falling, hold on, Lao Hong, here we are.
When I stepped into the mall, my hopes were completely dashed at that moment, and he was gone. "Oh! He must be there to die." I groaned and drove around the neighborhood several times looking for him and calling him, but the dog didn't come. The next day I took my sons to get a haircut, and Lao Hong came back! But he looked worse than ever, and after touching his nose, I ran into the barber shop: "Larry, the dog will die in front of your store soon."
Larry didn't even bother to tease me about this kind of thing, he didn't even look up, "Just pretend it's dead and didn't move this morning!"
"Larry," I screamed, "you have to do something!"
When I left the barbershop, my heart was very heavy. Not getting Lao Hong into my car made me fight with my will for a while. It seemed that he didn't want to live anymore. When I thought about it, I couldn't help but weep. While sitting in the car, one of my twin sons kept asking me a question and asked it three times.
"Does God care about stray dogs? Mom."
Even though God seemed far away, I knew I still had to answer Jeremy's question, but I also felt a little guilty because it never occurred to me to bother God with it. "Yeah! Jeremy, God cares about all living things." I was so afraid of what he was going to ask next.
"Then let's beg him to make Lao Hong feel better, okay? Mom."
"Of course, Jeremy," I replied angrily, but what would you say to a five-year-old?
Jeremy lowered his head, folded his hands, closed his eyes and said, "God, I want to tell God, please make Lao Hong feel better again, and please... send a boy to love it, amen."
Jeremy patiently prayed, and I wanted to tell him that animals were sick everywhere, but I also prayed, "Dear Lord, thank God for taking care of your people, please God send someone to take care of Lao Hong, please hurry up."
Strong added some more words to our prayer. I just backed out of the parking lot, but tears had fallen, but Jerome and Strong didn't seem to notice. Jerome rolled down the car window and shouted happily to the outside: "Goodbye, Lao Hong, you will be fine, someone will definitely come here to take you away."
The tired old dog only looked up slightly as we left.
Two days later, Larry stared at the phone and said, "Guess what?"
I'm afraid to even ask.
"Your dog is fine."
"What... how could..."
There was excitement in Larry's voice that couldn't be hidden. "Yesterday a veterinarian came to my place for a haircut, and I let him see the dog's condition, because you're driving me crazy! He gave Lao Hong a shot, and it's fine now."
A few weeks later, Lao Hong still lives outside the barber shop. Sometimes I wonder if he has noticed the dogs with families who come to the store. Those dogs usually lie on the car window and bark at Lao Hong, or stare at it, but Lao Hong usually ignores them.
Jeremy still often said that God must send someone to cherish Lao Hong.
One day when we were driving past the barber shop, we found that Lao Hong was gone, and I immediately went in and asked Larry where Lao Hong had gone.
Larry grinned as soon as he saw me come in, "A strange thing happened yesterday. There was a lady who brought her son to my place for a haircut. I don't know them, maybe they just moved to the neighborhood. She asked about the dog, because the little boy is very close to Lao Hong. I told her that no one has a dog, so she took Lao Hong home."
"Larry, don't tease me."
"Why am I teasing you? I have her phone number. I'll give it to you. She also took the dog to get some vaccinations and gave it a bath. If you see Lao Hong sitting in the front seat of the Buick sedan, I don't know what will happen to the other dogs! But I think it's laughing! I've never seen such a happy dog."
I walked quickly out of the barbershop, not wanting Larry to see my tears.