Signs - neon and otherwise

When the kids were little they were in an after-school program. Charles worked closer than I did to their elementary school, so he would pick up the girls on his way home. I generally had dinner underway by the time the onslaught began.

First, I would hear the basement garage door go up. Then, three car doors would slam and that would be followed by a herd of family coming up the steps. Usually they’d take a minute to throw down book bags or remove a tie or pet an animal before starting to sniff their way into the kitchen and talk about their day.

One afternoon was different though. After a brief pause in the basement, I could hear all three tumble through the door at the top of the stairs and head my way with no detour. The youngest was the first to barrel into the kitchen, although our other daughter and Charles were not far behind. The leader of the pack was breathlessly reporting even before she came into view. “Momma! Momma! Momma! There was this little dog in the middle of the road in front of our school.

And Momma, Momma, Momma, there were lots of cars. And Momma, Momma, Momma, she was about to get run over.” I glanced up from the distraught little face to see her sister and her daddy shaking solemn heads in silent confirmation of this eyewitness account. Charles especially had a deep level of concern in his big blue eyes, not quite meeting mine from under his furrowed brow.

Then, the light bulb went off and I asked the question that really wasn’t. "That dog is in this house, right?" They all began to nod vigorously and I heard three voices almost shout in unison, “Yes! Can we keep her?” I think the four-legged head count in our house at the time was three cats and three dogs - all but one -a rescue or stray. (Our all-time high would eventually be five and four.) We were on four acres and I was pretty sure there was a neon sign above our house with an arrow pointing down to guide homeless animals and lousy owners.

Of course, we kept the dog. What else are you gonna’ do when all the signs are there? Gizmo. She’s the one wearing the University of Tennessee hat.

Not that I didn't have a little discussion later with the guy carrying her...


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