As I was driving home from work one night, I got a call from Mum.
'Hey, when you're just about to arrive home tonight, can you call us to let us know?'
'Sure, why's that?'
'You'll find out when you get here. Just don't open the roller door until we say it's okay.'
I pulled into the driveway and gave Mum a call back.
'Okay, I'm here.'
'Okay just a second, Christina will let you in.'
I waited 30 seconds and then the roller door went up. I parked and walked inside. Mum was sitting on the coffee table holding a small brown-and-white puppy.
'Say hello to Charlie,' said Mum with a grin.
'We got a dog?' I asked incredulously. We used to have two big blue heelers when we were much younger, but then we moved house. My parents didn't want the dogs digging up the new lawn, so they gave the dogs away. Since then, they've refused to have any more pets, either for the cost, the messiness or both. We were even given hermit crabs at one point and had filled a fish bowl with gravel and shells to keep them in, but Dad insisted that to look after them properly we'd need to spend money on a proper tank/heat lamp etc, which he wasn't prepared to do.
'No, he's not ours,' she lamented. 'He just found us. Christina and I were heading out to get a DVD and when we opened the roller door, Charlie here just ran in. He jumped into the passenger seat of the car and made himself comfortable, like he was saying "Hey guys, where are we going?"'
By this stage, Charlie had already jumped out of Mums hands and come to acquaint himself with me. He jumped up and down pawing my leg until I sat down and rubbed his tummy. Around his neck, there was a blue leather collar with two metal tags on it. On one was engraved a registration number. On the other, in italics, was the name Charlie.
'He's so friendly isn't he?' I mused.
'He sure is. Every time someone walks in the door he runs up to greet them. He loves exploring too.'
'Have you called the owners?'
'I got an answering machine. I left a message for them to call back.
'Yeah... I wonder how long we have to wait and how many times we have to call-'
'-before we can keep it?' finished Mum. 'We'd have to ask Dad when he gets home of course, but Christina and I are with you.'
Dad was on a hunting trip and hadn't been home in a few days (being a fan of the show Supernatural, I loved saying that to people). Until he returned, we would all have a lot of fun pretending the dog was ours and hoping the original owners never called back. Unfortunately, we all agreed that since we didn't know if it was house-trained, it would have to sleep outside. The best thing we could put together for him as a bed was a deck chair with blankets on it. As we finished playing with him and went to bed, I led him outside and locked both the screen door and the glass door behind it. As I shut the blinds as well (which we always do), Charlie stood on the other side of the door, staring at me as if to say "But... weren't we having fun?" It broke my heart a little, but I finished closing the blinds and went upstairs to bed.
The next day, well... Charlie was gone. We had no idea how he got out, seeing as to whole yard was enclosed by a fence that was taller than us. Mum's best guess was that he'd managed to fit in through a tiny gap between the fence and the dirt at one spot on the perimeter. Charlie's sense of adventure was too great and we clearly weren't able to give him enough attention. The original owners never did call back, and I suspect Charlie's found a family now who can give him the time and attention he needs.