A Dog Story: Mustache, the Comeback Dog
As I sit reminiscing about years gone by, my mind wanders to the numerous pets taken in by my family during my children’s growing-up years. One of my best memories is of a dog my two sons unanimously decided to give the name “Mustache,” because of his hairy face.
We lived on the outskirts of a small, rural town where everyone knew everyone. One morning, as I opened the front door to see my boys off to school, there was this straggly-looking dog stretched out across the porch. Looking haggard and hungry, his sad-looking eyes met mine. I fed him, then began my search to find the owner of this medium-sized, unkempt canine. I spent the entire morning trying to find out who this ugly—yet cute—doggie belonged to, but no one claimed him.
That evening, my husband and I decided that this mutt had to go. Our neighborhood already had enough pets to open a pet store. My husband took him to a co-worker’s home 12 miles away. This family had been wanting a pet dog. Our kids were saddened they couldn’t keep Mustache, but we assured them that he was going to a good home.
Three days later, as I was hanging out some laundry, I glanced down the road and there was that same wiry-haired dog making his way toward my house. He walked up in my yard, looked at me as if to say, “I’m back!” and began jumping up for me to pet him. I must admit, my heart was won at that moment. My children, as well as all the other neighborhood children, were ecstatic that this dog had returned. It was obvious that he was here to stay this time.
Mustache became a welcome addition to our family and got along well with the other pets in the area, most of whom—like him—were “outdoor dogs” (this being the South, after all). We set up a bed for him, provided food and water, and he gave us back so much in return.
His one bad habit was disappearing for days. He always came back looking a few pounds lighter and as if he were hungover.
Six years later, we were preparing to move to a new home, about 15 miles away. Mustache had gone off on one of his “binges” and was nowhere to be found. Sadly, we gathered our last belongings and headed to our new house. Of course, we put the word out for folks to let us know if they found Mustache. We kept checking back at our old house in hopes of finding him there, but after a month or so, we realized we would probably never see him again. We couldn’t help wondering whether he was dead or alive.
On Thanksgiving Day (November), as we traveled to my in-law’s for dinner, we stopped at a store just down the road from our old house, to gas up the car. While my husband went inside to pay for the gas, my sons and I waited in the car. We heard a thump against the side of the car, looked out the window, and there was Mustache! I opened the door and he jumped right in, excitedly going to each of us to lick our faces. Those eyes again looked at me, this time saying, “Take me home!” What a miracle on Thanksgiving Day! It’s hard to say who was the happiest—us or the dog—but at last we were reunited.
Mustache adjusted to his new residence quite easily. We had a fenced-in front yard, which pretty much kept him at home, unless he got that urge to bolt.
Following Me to Work
I owned a store about two miles from home, on a rather busy highway. A customer came in one morning and asked, “Did you know you have a dog stretched out across the doorway out there?” Since it was not unusual for stray dogs to hang around the store, I just said, “Thank you” and went about my day.
As I prepared to leave work, I opened the door to go out. Lo and behold, there was Mustache. He jumped in the car with me and we headed home. As I drove, I scolded him, warning him of the dangers of that busy highway. He randomly made those trips to the store over the next couple of years, catching a ride back home with whoever offered. Of course, at the store he was showered with attention and treats, and I just couldn’t bring myself to tie him up. He never gave up his occasional disappearing acts, and he still chased those females, but he always came back.
Mustache died in 1995. However, he continues to “come back” to my family through memories of his amazing antics.
This guest post was written by Gayle Hickman, a writer from South Carolina who specializes in dog and cat behaviors. She writes for Pets Adviser, a pet advice blog, and her articles have also appeared on Yahoo! Shine and Reader’s Digest online.