There are encounters I don’t tell you about because there is nothing much to tell. Dogs I come across that I attempt to help who’ll have nothing of it. There were two of those Tuesday that I didn’t share because it was just the heartbreak of two old dirty haggard animals that don’t give a damn about anything but keeping their distance and finding the next piece of garbage to eat.
Then there’s Jack. I know his name, because this encounter last night has a happy ending brought about by a conspiracy of chances that led to him being reunited with his guardian.
Chance No. 1: Leaving work at 7:30 p.m. instead of 8 as I’d planned.
Chance Nos. 2 – 27: All the lights I made and missed that allowed me to arrive at the intersection of 4th and Citrus at 8:17 p.m. the exact same minute Jack did in the form of an adorable fluffy curly-haired champagne-colored breed I couldn’t peg that was sniffing in the gutter of its northwest corner with no people in sight.
Chance No. 28: Jack not running away when I approached him.
Chance No. 29: Jack coming to me, accepting a bit of a jerky treat I always carry in my backpack and allowing me to find he had a collar, but no identification.
Chance: No. 30: A neighborhood boy skateboarding past who when I asked him if I recognized the dog, did not, and went on his way suggesting I look for “Lost Dog” postings.
Chance No. 31: My cellphone still having some juice left within which to call Susan and attempt to sell her on my unwillingness to leave Jack to the streets — albeit relatively quiet upscale residential ones — and her need to come to our aid and get me and Jack who would at least be safe while I made up some “Found Dog” fliers and posted them.
Chance No. 32: Susan’s understandable initial reluctance to do so, leading me to realize I should first knock on some doors up and down the block to see if anyone recognized Jack.
Chance No. 32: The homeowner, one house north of the corner of 4th and Citrus who just happened to come outside at that very moment, as she later said, to shake out an empty and unused purse.
chance 32a: The empty and unused purse of all things, needing to be shaked out at that very moment.
Chance No. 33: That same homeowner instead of hurrying back inside and double locking the door against the black-helmeted stranger crouching in the gutter next to a bike, deciding to ask if he was all right.
Chance No. 34: Me responding yes thank you , and then quickly asking if she might recognize Jack who I was holding by the collar with no tag.
Chance No. 35: Instead of issuing a quick no and hurrying back inside and double locking the door against the black-helmeted stranger crouching in the gutter next to a bike and now also a dog, the homeowner cautiously approaches for a better look.
Chance No. 36: The homeowner recognizing Jack and knowing where he lived by telling me “Why… that’s — that’s, Judy’s dog!” and then askingÂ me to wait there why she hustles to the corner, across 4th Street to Judy’s house.
Chance No. 37: Judy’s house only being three doors to the south of 4th.
Chance No. 38: Judy being home and the two of them hustling back up, whereupon crossing the street and arriving to the northwest corner Judy calls out Jack’s name and I release the hold I have on his collar and inÂ a flood of relief I tell Susan that we have achieved a reunion while Judy interrogates Jack as to how he escaped. Jack responds by wagging his tail with such happy vigor that it makes him waddle instead of walk. Judy asks what happened and the neighbor tells her she just happened to come outside to empty out an old handbag and there Jack and I were.
Epilogue: I get off the phone with an equally relieved Susan telling her I love her and I’ll be on my way home. Judy exits with Jack, thanking me, as does the neighbor who walks past me back to her house with a bit of an astonished but satisfied look on her face, perhaps both surprised and pleased that the black-helmeted stranger she found crouching in the gutter next to a bike was a doer of good. In return I thank her for coming outside when she did and to mine and Jack’s assistance. And then I get back on my bike and ride.