Ode to the Collie's Friend

The drive is long, the windshield wipers beat, almost keeping time with the radio.

A glint of something up ahead. Eyes maybe? A deer? A dog? …

A collie. Cold and alone, he shivers near a 40 year pine. Stop and place the call.

And Aunt Jean comes. She loads him up and heads home to start her work, electronic messages traveling down the spider’s web, hitting their mark, making their point. No rest until this weary boy puts his head down and sleeps on clean blankets with a full tummy. “Sleep little Toby” and he does.

A family quarrels and falls in pieces. The pup out back, so spoiled when she was smaller, is chained and tired of arguments. She longs for love and peace and dreams of somewhere she has never been. A neighbor makes the call and Aunt Jean comes. She bundles the little lassie up, snuggles her into the passenger seat and her work begins. Down the wires the calls come and go, the voices blending into the “Collie Chorus”.

“I can take her if you can take him.” “Can you get her to the vet?” All details handled and re-handled until complete. At the end of the night she pets the sable head and says “Sleep little Lily” and she does, finally safe in a place she had only dreamt of.

The man at the gas station had seen the dog nearly every day. At 1 PM the dog would come, sidewinding down the gravel road, checking the garbage can and the stoop out back. Several days he gave the old boy water. One afternoon a customer asks about the dog, limping now, thin and mangy. The man doesn’t know the history beyond the life the old boy leads every day around 1 PM. The customer makes the call and Aunt Jean comes. She croons and cajoles the old boy with cookies and sweet talk. He is wary, he’s been hurt before, he’s a confirmed bachelor dog. But the cookies are quite good and the car seat looks softer than the woods.. She drives him to his foster home as he rests beside her. “Sleep Old Joe” and he does, fitfully for the first few miles and then finally deeper than he has in months.

A lovely girl has grown too big. Did they want a Sheltie? What were they thinking? The boys are too rough with her. She’s too rough with the boys. She barks too much. She doesn’t bark. The excuses come and go. Excuse #1 here, excuse # 6 there. Take your pick… they-re all the same. Someone didn’t think, someone didn’t take the time. If not before then how can you expect thoughtfulness after? At some point the call is made and Aunt Jean comes. She takes the little girl, grown too big and loads her up. She feels the mats under her hearth and on her legs. A noble heart in a quaking body, neglected and looking for friends. She has a good one now. She gets her dinner, the lights go down and Aunt Jean whispers “sleep little Kayla” and she does.

They come in ones and twos and in some nerve-racking weeks threes and fours. Buddy and Roxie and Tanner and Jake. Mollie and Martin. Zip and Bonnie. Shadow and Trooper. Look-a-like faces with independent minds, big hearts, frightened spirits, wracked bodies, souls still full of devotion. All different, all alike, from dusty city yards and muddy country roads, from cold shelters and neighbor’s garages. The call is placed and Aunt Jean comes.

R. Perry



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