She was grief-stricken after her dog passed away. Then a mysterious boxer came along.
Posted in , Nov 25, 2020
I couldn’t even sort through the first box of our dog Bama’s toys without bursting into tears. My husband, Alan, found me sitting on the floor in our utility room, clutching our late boxer’s favorite squeaky. He gently pulled me to my feet. “It’s okay, Lisa,” he said.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll put these away. Why don’t you go outside and get some air?”
It had been a few months since our beloved Bama had passed away. He’d lived a good, long life. Alan and I didn’t have children. Our boxer was our baby. After Bama’s death, we couldn’t bring ourselves to go through his toys to decide what to keep, so we put them all in our utility room. I told myself I’d do it when I was ready. Apparently, I still wasn’t.
Now I sat on my front porch and sobbed. Friends and family had suggested we get another dog, but Alan and I dismissed the idea. We couldn’t go through that kind of heartbreak again. Besides, I didn’t want just any dog. I wanted Bama.
I gazed out over the yard. Across the street was a dog. A boxer. I wiped the tears from my eyes, heart pounding. Was he real or just a figment of my wishful imagination? I blinked. The boxer was still there. We locked eyes. He trotted across the street, straight toward me. Tentatively, I offered my hand. He sniffed it eagerly, stumpy tail wagging. He licked me. I let out a surprised laugh. He pushed his head into my lap to be petted.
This dog was younger than Bama, smaller. Bama had been white, but this dog’s fur was brindle. He was well-fed and groomed. He wore a collar but had no ID. I knew he must belong to someone in the neighborhood, but I’d never seen another boxer around. I would have remembered if I had.
“Where did you come from?” I asked the dog, scratching him behind the ears.
The dog flopped at my feet, his tongue lolling in a doggie smile. He didn’t seem lost. Just as if he were dropping by for a visit.
“Alan!” I called. “You have to come see this!”
Alan joined me, and we sat together in awe for a moment. Then the boxer got up and trotted off . In the following days, he’d sometimes appear in the backyard when Alan and I were outside. Other times, he’d wait for us on the front porch.
“I wish he’d announce himself,” Alan joked. “Knock on the door or something.”
The next day, there was a strange scratching at the door. I opened it to find the mystery boxer, doggie smile wide. He seemed to know exactly what we needed.
With each visit, I could feel the ache in my heart lessen. Seeing him was helping me work through my grief. One day, I noticed that I could now pass Bama’s favorite napping spots without feeling that pang of loss. I realized I could fondly recall how Bama would follow us from room to room—our constant companion. Memories that, until recently, had hurt too much to dwell on.
At work one day, a young man and an older woman I’d never seen before came in. I took down the man’s address to complete some paperwork and noticed he lived up the street from me.
His name was Tanner. The woman with him was his grandmother. He and his family had recently moved from Georgia.
“Do you happen to have a dog?” I asked. “A boxer?”
“We do,” he said.
“I’ve met him. He’s actually been paying me regular visits.”
Tanner looked embarrassed. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “We’re building a fence, but it’s not done yet and Axle keeps getting out. I hope he didn’t cause y’all any trouble.”
“Not at all!” I said. “Actually, he was a big help...”
It has been three years since that day. Tanner and his family have become good friends of ours. Alan and I see them often—along with Axle, the boxer who brought all of us together. Now Bama’s toys don’t just sit in the utility room, gathering dust. Alan and I keep them out for Axle to enjoy whenever he comes over to visit.
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