If we'd had a Halo Collar back in the day, I wouldn't be able to write the story I'm about to tell. You might think that a dog that had lost the use of her back legs, who had to be carried outside just to do her business, wouldn't have much need for a fence, either electronic or physical.
You might think that if you'd never met Honey, our picture-perfect foundling with two functioning legs who pulled a Houdini act in our back yard one day. Did that make her a lostling?
It was crazy. Had she been dog-napped? But who would steal a crippled dog? We'd heard about UFOs abducting cows and farmers, but never dogs. We plastered her picture on every telephone pole in the neighborhood. Reward offered. No questions asked. Those were dark days.
But let me back up a little bit . . .
On her way home from her after-school job, our daughter found a forlorn red-nosed pit bull puppy wandering in a parking lot.
The puppy's tan and white coat earned her name. Honey could have come from Central Casting except for that red nose. Don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful nose, but it would blister under a sixty-watt bulb.
Honey grew up healthy and happy. She would chase down a tennis ball in the park behind our house, and be so proud of her catch that the only way to get her to let go was to lift her rear end in the air so she'd drop it.
If we finally wore her out with the tennis ball, she'd bring it back and drop it in her water bowl to tell us she was done.
Call her name, and Honey would slam her tail against furniture and walls, so eager to take on any assignment. If a prize-fighter's fists are registered as lethal weapons, Honey's tail would have gone in the books as a WMD: Wagger of Many Decibels. When Honey was in a good mood -- which was virtually all the time -- she'd work her tail with a force greater than any heavy-metal band drummer. The slap hurt our ears more than it seemed to affect her tail.
Our town had some kind of a leg-count quota per household. You could have maybe twelve, or sixteen pet legs, but after that, watch out. I can't recall what the limit was because we never paid any attention to it. With a Rottweiler, a Pit Bull, a scrappy mongrel, innumerable cats and a couple of birds, the Pet Police weren't ever game to knock on our door for a pet census. They would have been liable for disturbing the peace.
In any case, we would take a couple of dogs into the nearby park in those days and throw a stick for one, and then a stick for the other. Honey was always the fastest, and most eager, so she'd get the first stick, and the Rottie would follow suit. They'd trot back with their prizes. Rinse and repeat until someone -- that is, the stick thrower -- got tired of it.
"Let's go home, Honey," I'd call out, "and listen to your tail beating the furniture."
But, dogs being dogs, they must have started comparing the sticks each one was catching. And one morning, Honey and the Rottie launched off the mark together and collided as the stick fell to earth.
It was no big deal at first, but by the next day, Honey couldn't get her hind feet underneath her. She could drag herself around with her front legs, but this was not only sad, she quickly started to develop sores where her back legs scraped behind.
The vet talked about a sort of doggy wheel chair we could strap her in to, but that didn't seem too practical when your house has steps up and steps down from room to room. I'm sure the architect had thought that was a feature, not a bug.
So we'd carry Honey in and out of the house as needed, and bandaged her back legs where she would wear them raw.
We lived next to a park, and we didn't have a fence in those days, but we didn't think much about leaving her out to enjoy the fresh air. After all, she couldn't run away, could she? Her top speed was measured in yards per hour.
And this is the part where a Halo Collar would have come in handy. Because one morning when we were going to carry Honey back inside -- she wasn't there.
She couldn't have gone too far, so we beat the bushes in the park. We called her name. Nothing.
We printed flyers and tacked them to every pole within a one-mile radius. Folks in the neighborhood who didn't know my name would ask, "Did you find Honey?" when I walked the other dogs.
These were dark days and lonely nights. We dozed off one afternoon, totally exhausted from the heartache. We sprang to life when the phone rang.
A woman had found Honey on the day she went missing, and had just seen our lost-dog flyers. She'd found her scraping along, four hundred yards from home. How she got that far we'll never know. Maybe an alien abductor was involved after all.
The woman's father was recovering from brain surgery. He would sit in a lawn chair in his front yard on a quiet street, with Honey by his side. I'm sure if someone had thrown a stick, she would have dragged herself after it and brought it back to him. They were healing together beneath the shade tree.
Months later, Honey wobbled to her feet and began to walk again. She'd never lost the use of her tail and now that she could move it into position, she could knock a mean beat against the walls and furniture again.
Honey thrived for years after that episode in her life. We were proud of her for helping nurse an invalid back to health. And we were proud that she'd found the strength to set off on an impossible journey.
And we took to heart her lesson that a dog's potential is constrained only by its imagination, which knows no bounds.
But even after all of that, a Halo Collar sure would have saved us an awful lot of aggravation.
About the Creator
Alan Gold lives in Texas. His novels, Stress Test, The Dragon Cycles and The White Buffalo, are available, like everything else in the world, on amazon.
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