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copyright 1999, Lois Wickstrom



by Lois Wickstrom

It was a free demonstration __ I wouldn't have paid for it -- the psychic from Casadega went around the room at the Ramada Inn, pointing at unbelievers -- promising babies to some, friends to others, jobs to still others. Then she came to me. A little boy was going to come to my house, she said. He would have an eye problem and it would be very important to him to have it treated. It would be up to me how long he stayed -- he could stay only a day or two, if I wanted.

This sounded weird. I have no nephews. My godson is nearly old enough to go to college, so even if he were to become my ward, he does not qualify as a little boy. Certainly my neighbors weren't about to give away their children -- not that I'd want them anyway. Not even for a day or two.

I told my family __ we're all skeptics __ and we decided to let the future take care of itself. If we were getting a little boy there was nothing we could do about it anyway, so why worry.

A few weeks later, my daughter was out front mowing the lawn. I heard the mower stop, and my daughter came in the house carrying an eleven pound mutt that was crawling with fleas. She took him straight to the tub and scrubbed him with flea soap. He had no collar, and he had obviously been abused. His throat was healing from a knife slash, and his neck was scarred where a collar had grown into the skin. His ears had that chewed look of a street fighter. And he was incredibly hungry.

After his bath, my daughter and I took him around the block, asking any of our neighbors if they had lost a dog. Nobody recognized him. He was thin, bug-eyed and incredibly cuddly. He looked like a miniature black Doberman, down to the little brown markings where his eyebrows should be. We took him home again, and I noticed that one eye was gooey. I dampened a cloth to wipe it. When the cloth got near his face, the dog growled. When it touched him, he lunged at me and bit my nose and lips. This dog was definitely not staying until it was checked for rabies.

The next day, I took him to the vet. The vet asked if he was mine. I said no, that he was a stray. The vet didn't want to take responsibility for him, and told me to take him to the Humane Society to get him checked for rabies there. They gave me directions that were actually to the pound.

When I arrived, a woman greeted us outside and asked if this was our dog. My daughter and I explained that this was a stray that had bitten me and we wanted it checked for rabies. Then my daughter recognized the woman's voice. "That's Sally Spada," she said. "She's on the radio. She's Adopt_a_Pet." Sally assured me that this dog did not have rabies. She asked me to hold him while she went into the building to get another dog and she would take him to a vet she knew. Then she would get him adopted.

While we waited, the dog cuddled and played with us. He reminded me of the Pooh story about the woozle and the wizzle who left tiny footprints in the snow when Pooh and piglet followed them around the tree. But this dog was even smaller than a wizzle; he was a miniature wizzle, so I named him Miniwiz. Still, he had bitten me, and I was quite sore. So, when Sally came out of the building, about 45 minutes later, I gave him to her.

But, I couldn't get him out of my mind. A couple days later, I called Sally. No, she hadn't adopted him out yet, and yes, the vet had treated his eye infection. She would call the vet and then I could pick him up.

Miniwiz didn't seem to recognize me at the vet's, but he came home willingly, after getting his shots and license. He made friends with our older dog, and ate another big bowl of food. Then he promptly burrowed his way under our fence and went out to explore the neighborhood.

I bought cement blocks and buried them in the dirt under our fence. For a few weeks, Miniwiz stayed put. Then he learned to climb the fence. All the neighbors got to know our dog, as they kept putting him back into our yard. We got him fixed, but that didn't stop his roaming. We sent the city's rebate check to Sally to help pay for her Adopt_a_Pet operation. She had gone out of the pet adopting business having run up a $40,000 debt at the vet's.

I bought Miniwiz a chain and harness. It took him about an hour to get out of the harness. Then he ran to the elementary school to play with the children. The cook brought him home to play with her six children, but she gave him back when she saw our Lost Dog poster. Miniwiz was not happy about leaving all those children. I'd heard of children asking their parents for a dog. This was the first dog that I knew of to ask his owners for children.

I tried a different harness. Miniwiz dug up the stake that held his chain, and dragged the chain and stake over two fences to get to his girlfriend's house. She was 19, and she'd been fixed. He was five, and he'd been fixed. But he was in love. Fifi was a little brown mutt who looked just like him only about two pounds smaller. Fifi was arthritic and usually walked unsteadily. But when Miniwiz came to visit, she perked up, and ran like a young dog.

I knew how she felt. I'd never had a dog when I was growing up. And our older dog loved my husband best. Miniwiz liked me. He cuddled me when I felt sad. He jumped to see me when I came home. I loved him as much as if he were one of my human children __ perhaps more.

I bought a different stake __ one that twisted into the ground. Miniwiz broke his chain. I bought a chain designed for a 20 pound dog. Miniwiz broke that. I bought a chain designed for a 50 pound dog, and he broke his new harness. Finally, I found a combination that held him, and my husband started complaining that he didn't like to see a dog chained. He was going to train Miniwiz to stay in the yard without a chain. A friend suggested we buy a fence with slanted spikes on it that couldn't be

climbed. My husband persisted that he could teach Miniwiz to stay home. For a few days it worked. Then my daughter caught him out front again. And we got my husband to promise to always chain Miniwiz.

My daughter went off to college, and for a week, my husband remembered to chain Miniwiz when he was the last one to leave. Then one night, he was only going to be gone two hours. He was sure Miniwiz would stay in the yard that long. But when he got home Miniwiz was gone. He looked in all of Miniwiz's favorite haunts __ where we'd always found him before when he went

exploring. When I got back from my meeting, I too scoured the neighborhood.

When we came inside, the answering machine was blinking. The call was from our vet's. Miniwiz had been hit by a car. I could tell from her voice that he was dead, but her message just said to come down in the morning.

I thought about leaving my husband because he couldn't take care of my dog. I thought about never having a dog again because it hurt too much to lose him. I cried into the night, "I want my dog!" And I thought about the woman from Casadega. She was wrong __ it wasn't up to me how long the little boy would stay. It was up to him, and he left.