When my sister and I were little, our family dog was a small, black and white terrier named Wiggles. The name suited him well; he was rarely still.
(Left to right) Linda, Wiggles, Judy
Wiggles was nominally our uncle Joe's dog, but we didn't pay much attention to that technicality, and neither did Joe. Or Wiggles. Wiggles seemed to think of himself as his own dog. And, in a way, he was.
There were no leash laws in those days, and the few dogs in the neighborhood came and went as they pleased (except for Susie, the pampered Chihuahua four doors down). Wiggles showed up at our house most days, but it wasn't uncommon for him to go missing for a day or two. In fact, he made such a habit of wandering that we weren't the only people who thought we owned him.
One day, after Wiggles had been gone for a couple of days, I saw him sitting on the sidewalk halfway down the block. I called him by name, then realized there was a man at the end of the block who was also calling him--by a different name. Wiggles just sat there, his head swiveling slowly back and forth between me and the man, then lay down and rested his head on his paws right where he was.
Where he was was right in front of the Wheelises' house. The Wheelises lived three doors down from us, and Jimmy Wheelis was good friends with my uncle Joe.
Joe and Wiggles
Fittingly, Jimmy's dog, Trievy (pronounced TREE-vee, probably short for retriever, though I don't think he was one) was Wiggles' best friend. Nine times out of ten, where Wiggles was, Trievy was, too.
Trievy and Judy
Trievy was also black and white, but he was at least four times as big as Wiggles. Trievy had long, fluffy hair, while Wiggles' hair was short and flat, and Trievy's ears were big and floppy, while Wiggles' ears turned down only at the tips.
They were quite a sight, those two in their matching colors, parading purposefully down the sidewalks or through the alley, always trotting along, side by side, as if they had an appointment and didn't want to be late. If Wiggles decided to lie on our front porch and soak up the afternoon sun, Trievy lay right there with him, and my sister and I contentedly scratched both bellies. We loved Trievy as much as we loved Wiggles.
One afternoon late, a neighbor came to our house carrying Wiggles in his arms. The neighbor had seen Wiggles and Trievy playing tug-of-war with an old rag earlier in the day. Later, the neighbor had noticed that Wiggles appeared to be injured and had gone outside to see what was wrong with him.
The rag that the dogs had played with had been full of fishhooks, and a number of those hooks were now imbedded in Wiggles' lips and on the inside of his mouth. Trievy stood at the neighbor's side as he handed Wiggles to my grandfather, and Trievy watched as both grandparents put Wiggles in the car and drove him away to the vet.
It was dusk when they came home. Wiggles had never been allowed in the house, but that evening Mammaw and Packy carried him inside, still unconscious from the anesthesia, and laid him on a folded blanket in a cardboard box next to the warm floor register in the living room.
By breakfast time the next morning, we were happy to see that Wiggles was up and around and still in the house (though that wouldn't last for long). As we ate our cereal and toast, my grandmother told us we'd had a visitor in the middle of the night. Well after midnight, she said, she'd heard a scratching noise at the front door. When she'd gotten out of bed to check on it, she'd discovered Trievy standing there. Now, if Wiggles had never been allowed in the house before, Trievy certainly hadn't been either, but that night Mammaw let him in. He walked straight to the box where Wiggles lay, still out cold, stood there a moment sniffing Wiggles from nose to tail, then turned around and waited at the door to be let outside.
Why am I telling this story now? Because that's the kind of faithful friend I want for Levi. And I think I know where that friend might be.
I'll keep you posted.