Abby has become a “Wonder-dog” companion for our family. Every day, I give her a chance to run away. Every day, she sticks around the house, laying in the sun in several locations around the yard. This old hound comfortably keeps an eye on the comings and goings of our home. If it’s raining or snowing, she’s laying in a bed of dry grass under the trash trailer. 

I may not know where she is, but I know she sees me. She loves to snuggle in the LazyBoy with me. At night, she sleeps on the wide-open floor at the foot of our bed. No fancy and fluffy “Costco” dog bed for her. She does snore, fart, whimper, run and roll around in her sleep. All this without having to hang a bacon sandwich around my neck.

Abby has awakened us several times now in the middle of the night with a tired hoarse bark. Because there was something outside that gave her the creeps. 

15 Months Ago…
It was just 15 months ago when I brought her home. It took hours to coax into the house. She just stood there shaking and looking at me. I had crystal clear Collbran water and a small piece of moose roast in clean cereal bowls just inside the door. 

But she didn’t move... for hours she stood shaking. I left the lights on, left the door open and let her be. I was in repose on my LazyBoy, when she finally came in the house and drank the bowl of water. For the time being, she passed up that tender piece of moose roast floating in cold gravy. She then sniffed all around the house.  

Eventually, she laid down in the middle of the living-room, with one eye on me and one eye closed. There she slept all evening. I watched “Nature” on Public TV and I let her be.

In her whimpering slumber, I could see her fur was a matted mess from stem to stern. The fur hung in long thick dirty ropes. Intwined in the fine white, brown and black hair were small sticky seeds, thorns and dried leaves. Obviously, a neglected bobbed-tail female border collie and oh! how she stunk. 

Tragic Beginnings
My journey with Abby began earlier in the evening when an unimaginable act of violence occurred in our quiet little town of Collbran, Colorado, in the US. A young and strong disturbed tattooed veteran murdered a defenceless old woman who had hold of a walker in one hand and a doorknob in the other. This tragedy took place just a few blocks east of Main Street, in the hollow of our town. She was gunned down just a few heart beats after a knock at her front door.

I, of all people, was given the one and only blessing from this deplorable tragedy. 

Many of us here in Collbran have been impacted, one way or another, by an individual who apparently took the life of our fragile neighbour, Janice Brown. During the day of this deplorable act, many of us were approached on Main Street by the gunman. 

“Please take my dog,” he yelled. Obviously, this distraught strong young man was pleading for help. All day, that poor old hound got dragged all over town. This guy wildly begged anyone he met, and he approached a lot of people in town before he ran into me.

I had just driven up and parked my little car in front of the Collbran Town Hall. This guy, who is head and shoulders taller than me, runs up pointing his finger at me as I am trying to climb out of my little car.

Yelling, he begs me to take his sad-looking dog. Absolutely nothing this man said, made any sense. I realised the dog looked more frightened than I was and “I ain’t afraid of nothin.”

As Fate Would Have It
I knelt down and tried to beckon the dog toward me. The poor thing, she only cowed away. This distraught young man grabbed hold of her by the fur. Somehow, he flung the animal up onto his shoulders. He started spinning around on a heel. He almost fell from being dizzy. I caught him from falling. This was so weird.  

I am getting real creeped out by this strange acting tattooed dude. So just like that, I opened the back hatch of my little Prius. The dizzy dog leapt from his shoulders to her fate in the back of my car. I closed the door behind her.

And, just like that, that scary guy ran away. He headed east wearing a dirty tank top, knee high shorts with bare feet in flip flops, yelling something. Never looking back. That night, in a single breath, he takes the life of a fragile friend and neighbour. So many questions and so few answers. 

So, just like that, I have a new old dog. She is sweet, shy, and she seems to like me. She does not jump up or down. She has not peed or pooped in the house. I haven’t had to tie a pork chop around my neck to get her to play with me. So far, so good. I have named her Abby, a good two-syllable she-dog’s name. I named her after a friend, a writing coach, a distinguished educator and published Alaskan author, Dr Abby.

So begins a new chapter in my life with “Abby of Collbran.”