Rescuing a Ghost-Dog

By Bruce Felps

Well, I certainly took a little trip through Bizarre-O Land this afternoon, and I never left my block.

In fact, I traveled a physical distance of fewer than eight, maybe nine houses down the sidewalk, and the trip lasted less than 30 minutes.

About 2:30 this afternoon I stepped out to the front porch for a breath of unfresh air. I spotted a chocolate Lab about three houses down with no human at the end of a leash, nor within trailing, supervisory sight.

I could see a collar and tags, and hate to see a loose dog at the side of a busy road like Richmond Avenue, so I grabbed my phone and headed toward the dog.

The worn tag read something like, “Kisses, call [this number] if lost. Jay.”

Help arrives, or not so much

About that time, a guy came out of the house where I knelt, holding the collar and dialing. The guy introduced himself as Chad, I think, and said he’d be happy to have the wayward canine in his backyard until Jay showed up.

I left a message for Jay, followed Chad to his backyard, where I also met his two Yorkies and one wife, Shayla. Chad and Shayla are very pretty people, just meant for each other, evidently. He said they had an appointment elsewhere, like now, but Kisses could hang out in the yard while awaiting Jay.

I noticed the gate off the driveway didn’t have a latch. Chad said, “No worries, here’s a big cooler we can put on the other side to secure the gate.”

I called back for Jay, who this time picked up.

That’s where it got weird.

Ghost of companions past

I told Jay about the situation with Kisses and where she could be found. The words were not greeted with what a dog rescuer might expect hear.

No, “Oh, my God, thank you. I’ll be there in 20 minutes even though I’m in Fort Worth. How can I find her?”

Nope, after an awkward silence, Jay said Kisses passed away a few months ago.

Excuse me?

These 2s don’t add up

Jay told me, in not so many words, he’d experienced a divorce within the not-so-distant past. Evidently, he and his ex had two dogs, one chocolate Lab and one yellow Lab. One passed away and the other went to live with his former mother-in-law, whose house sits a few doors down the block from where Chad and Shayla live.

Maybe I misunderstood. Maybe Jay became rattled by a call saying his dead dog had been found. But I swear he described the deceased canine as a brown, slightly over-weight older female. He also said somebody likely got the collars mixed up.

Um, Jay? I am looking at a brown, slightly over-weight older female Lab.

He gave me the address of former-mother-in-law, I told him the address where the now unidentified dog cooled her paws, hung up, and looked, bewildered, at Chad and Shayla. “Something’s not adding up here,” I said.

I looked again at Shayla. Hey, I said they are very pretty people.

On the road again, and again

Meanwhile, the dead-live dog, Not-Kisses, pushed open the unlatched gate — so much for the cooler, thank you very much — and headed back toward the sidewalk with me in lukewarm pursuit. I’m not so fast on my feet anymore.

That’s where Chad, Shayla, and I parted company. Didn’t see them again after this point. Maybe they had a tanning appointment.

Not-Kisses encountered a guy walking his boxer. I approached, apologized, and the guy said his dog only wants to play. Since she isn’t my dog, I didn’t know how Not-Kisses might react to another dog.

I grabbed her collar and took her to my backyard, closed and secured the gate, I thought, and headed off to former-mother-in-law’s house.

Bless her heart, former-mother-in-law must be in her 80s. I found her standing in the front drive, leash in hand, looking around and rather helpless. I briefly explained the situation, took the leash, and headed home to retrieve the Lab.

A construction worker helping build the house next door to mine whistled, yelled at me as I got closer, and pointed in the opposite direction. Not-Kisses was out again, this time from my backyard.

Sorting it out

Not-Kisses is a friendly, trusting dog. She was about to head west toward Greenville when I got close enough to call and whistle for her. She turned and ran toward me, we shared a warm moment, I snapped on the leash, and took her back to former-mother-in-law’s house.

Former mother-in-law explained that, yes, Kisses, the yellow Lab, passed away and Reagan, the chocolate Lab, was left with her after the divorce. Someone had, indeed, switched the collars for reasons that totally escape me.

Still, Reagan-Not-Kisses was home, so whew.

During the walk home, I called Jay again to let him know. He said he was sorry for his reaction to the initial call.

“I was a little freaked out, man. I thought maybe someone was calling from the Twilight Zone to say they found my ghost-dog.”

Twilight Zone, indeed. I do not want to go there again.

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times. He very likely will get a dog this year but preferably not someone’s lost pet for whom that someone is standing in the front drive, leash in hand, looking around and rather helpless.


  1. Joyce

    A little odd, there, but very cool ending. Thanks for watching out for the animal friends.

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