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May 31, 2011 by pippalou
Posted in category: Dogs
Picture a young, gangling, yellow Labrador Retriever with a big goofy grin, tongue hanging out, and a tail constantly on the wag. There you have George. No collar, but not a stray. Youthfully slim, but obviously well-fed. Just a roamer. One of those who opens the gate or jumps the fence during the day when nobody's home and roams the neighborhood with joy in his heart and lots of energy in his active body.

What George's real name was, I never found out. I just petted him and held him and called him George.

The first time he showed up, we were in the back yard with our four dogs, and he appeared gaping and grinning over the chain link fence at all these new friends he'd found. His whole demeanor yelled, “Hi guys! I'm here! Let's have fun!”

\Our four went into a group frenzy, barking, racing back and forth and snarling at one another in their thwarted attempts to get at George. George, probably deprived of canine companionship at home, loved every minute of it. The more hubbub they created, the more he grinned and galumphed back and forth. This dog did not gallop or canter, he most definitely galumphed.

On one of George's visits, I took my heeler mix Scout out front to play with him. She was about two at the time, and seemingly tireless, a true heeler quality. But George took her on. No problem. Those two ran all around in the front, playing and chasing and tumbling, and Scout finally just dropped down by me, her heavy panting declaring, “Uncle!” George had won. And, boy, was I pleased. Anything pleased me that wore out Scout!

However, George's daily visits could at times be a nuisance, so we determined to try to get him to go home.

On one attempt, we put all the dogs in the house and drove away. Maybe with no fun and excitement to lure him, George would go home. An hour later, we pulled into the driveway only to see George. Grinning madly, tail wagging, he galumphed after us up to the garage.

For Plan B, I tried walking towards where we assumed he lived, in a new development about a mile down the street. George came readily, charging out in front and inspecting everything along the way. When we had almost reached our destination, George took off through someone's yard, and I figured he had gone home. With a sign of relief, I turned around and trudged back. No sign of our lively Labrador friend appeared along the way, and when I got there... You got it, happy, friendly George.

Over time, George unfortunately expanded his roaming territory. Two doors down from us, on the way towards George's supposed home, a pasture of some hundred acres rolled along in tempting green waves. Who wouldn't love to get out and run across it, feeling free as a bird. That was Mr. Vernon's pasture, and on it, he raised Angus cattle. Mr. Vernon did not like dogs, and according to him, neither did his cattle.

One day, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon came charging up our driveway in their Gator, with our friend George in the back. “Is this your lab?” Mr. Vernon demanded. At the time we had a yellow lab, female, 7 years old, but George wasn't ours and we still had no idea whom he belonged to. Mr. Vernon decided then and there to call the pound to have George picked up. “I can't have this dog running through my pasture scaring my cattle!”

That afternoon, they came and took George away, and we heard no more of him. But I'm quite sure someone must have adopted him, all he would have to do is wag that tail and give them his signature goofy grin, and who could resist?  If we hadn't already had four dogs and couldn't afford another, I would have been glad to give him a new home.

You might wonder why George ran away all the time, other than the obvious explanation of loneliness. After the authorities picked him up, we never heard anything about a missing dog. No signs, no ads, nothing.

It wasn't until about seven or eight months later that a woman from the new development stopped by our house and demanded to know where we got our yellow Lab. She had lost a yellow Lab, and her description tallied with that of George.

Even when we pointed out that our dog was female and almost 8 years old, she didn't seem convinced that we hadn't appropriated her dog.  My main question was, what took you so long to ask about him?   Or did he just now pop into your head again because you saw our Lab?  Is it any wonder he kept running away?  I would have.

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