A Happy Holiday Bummer

By Deidra Rooski • May 9, 2012

A Happy Holiday Bummer

On the afternoon of November 11th Veterans Day a cocker spaniel came running happily up to me as I stepped out of my car. I noticed this dog was different, he only had three legs. I checked his collar and found that he had three tags. One tag read Bummer E. and was followed by a phone number. I tried that number but it was according to an automated voice “disconnected or unavailable at this time”. The second tag was a tag for a microchip company. I called the one –eight hundred number and reported that I had found Bummer. The lady on the line said that she would contact his owners; I told her that I had already tried the number on his other tag with no luck. The last tag was a registration tag from Honolulu Hawaii; this poor dog was far from the big island these days. Bummer the three- legged dog was in Plum Grove Texas and obviously lost.

Bummer tried to make the best of life here on the “Hill” (as we call it). Bummer stayed out in my father’s automotive shop for a few hours. He looked puzzled as my father accidently called him Boomer. He didn’t seem to know what to make of the strange smell of grease and oil or what to think about the loud noises from certain tools. Morgan our little shop dog tried to play with Bummer but had no luck. Bummer seemed pretty depressed. He perked up when a Snap-On tool truck pulled up to take care of some business with my father. He kept trying to board the truck but it was too high.

Inside my mother, brother and I tried to make sense of Bummer being here. Someone said maybe he got away from his owners while visiting the cemetery down the road, and they just hadn’t noticed yet. We thought possibly belonged to a military or retired military family as it was Veteran’s Day and he wore that Honolulu tag. We saw how desperate he seemed trying to get on board the tool truck and thought that his people must have been traveling. We decided that the next day I would check with our neighbors who sometimes had company that traveled in R.V. campers or small motor homes.

It was already dark and it was getting colder. I was worried about Bummer staying outside, there were other loose dogs around that could really hurt him if they got into it. I asked my mother if I could keep him inside for a night. I thought he could stay in the restroom in case he had an accident. She reluctantly said yes. Mom hasn’t ever been too fond of having dogs in the house.

Bummer hobbled up the five foot of steps that led up to our door. He came in and made a bee-line to the spot just behind dad’s recliner. He laid down and watched us carefully. We tried to comfort him by giving him a towel to lay on and petting him a little. Bummer was sound asleep before long. I didn’t have the heart to move him to the restroom. I slept on the couch hoping that I would hear him if he got up and needed out. The next morning I awoke to find Bummer waiting patiently by the door. I let him out as I checked the house and found no accidents or chewed up furniture. We were thankful our overnight guest was house-broken.

I headed off to my morning class, where I kept thinking about getting home to Bummer. I returned home and decided to give Bummer some dry dog-food with turkey broth poured over top as a treat. It didn’t take him long to have that bowl licked clean. I decided now was as good of time as any to check with the neighbors about Bummer. I walked over with Bummer happily following along. I knocked on the door and visited with the Mrs., she said that wasn’t her dog. She hadn’t seen him before yesterday afternoon. She said she tried the number on his tag but found it to be out of service. I walked back home with Bummer.

I decided that Bummer had to have a bath if he was going be a house guest. He didn’t seem very excited to hear about that. While I filled the tub with warm water I gathered up a few towels and some dog shampoo. I called for Bummer when his bath was ready he reluctantly came to me. I picked him up and set him into the tub. He seemed nervous about his balance until I coaxed him into sitting down. He sat patiently as I poured water over him. I got the shampoo squirted on to his fluffy coat and began to massage it in when I felt a sharp little prick. I looked carefully and found a cocklebur nestled in his golden coat. I carefully pulled it off of him and put it in trash. I worked my way down his back and towards his legs gently pulling out any more cockleburs I found. I was done with his body and began to carefully wash the top of his head and under his chin. I was almost done all I lacked was his ears. I started to carefully wash the outside of his ears when I came upon yet another cocklebur. I began to cautiously remove it when I realized that he had quite a few more of these cockleburs on his ears.

Bummer was getting impatient and I didn’t blame him. I called for my mother’s help. She helped me to remove the cockleburs carefully before poor Bummers patience ran too thin. We counted over a dozen cockleburs that had been attached to his ears alone. I let the water out of the tub and rinsed Bummer off. I laid towels on the bathroom floor and wrapped another around him as I lifted him up out of the tub. He let me dry him decently before he did the doggie shake. I opened the bathroom door and he excitedly ran down the hall. He raced over to his towel behind dads chair to try to rejuvenate his dog smell. Thankfully his attempts were futile.

While Bummer was busy napping after his bath, I decided to start looking for his owners myself. I logged on to facebook to solicit ideas from my friends. I posted all the information I had and hoped for some good news. Within a few hours I had a handful of comments and some basic information. The phone number that was “disconnected or unavailable” had a San Diego area code. One friend shared our thoughts that he belonged to a military family. Another friend had traced the number to a David E. who lived in near San Diego California. I had a few more clues than I did before.

Bummer was still depressed but wasn’t sulking as much as he had the night before. He was enjoying all the attention we gave him. My mom decided that since Bummer had been so well behaved he would be allowed to stay inside with us till his people came. We were certain they would be coming for him quickly. He was obviously loved. Someone had paid for him to be neutered, registered, groomed (awhile back) and even for a microchip to be implanted.

I went to take my shower and found that while I was bathing Bummer had been waiting nervously at the bathroom door. I bet he was thinking “poor girl you had to get a bath too”. He seemed very relieved when I came out and petted him a little.

I decided to call it a night and went to my room. Bummer followed close behind me. I lay in bed reading for an hour or so until I marked my place and reached for my lamp. I noticed that Bummer had been watching me patiently; his expression seemed to beg for attention. I got out of bed and petted him for awhile. I couldn’t seem to go back to bed; this dog had my heart wrapped around his paw. I grabbed my pillows and a blanket off of the bed and made a pallet on the floor next to Bummer. I petted him till I fell asleep.

The next morning I let Bummer out the next morning and checked the answering machine. No one had called for him. I called the microchip company back. I asked if they had any luck contacting his people. Miss Jennifer was exceptionally helpful when I expressed my concerns about Bummers handicap. She provided me with the name and number of his veterinarian out in California. I thanked her for her help and asked if she would note in Bummers account that he would remain in my care until his owners were located.

I called the Rancho San Carlos Veterinary Clinic out in California. They were very concerned about Bummer being lost. A vet tech told me that Bummer is a senior citizen dog! I was surprised to hear that because he seemed so youthful. They didn’t hesitate to offer fax his records over and gave me the names Dawn and Jason “E” and offered to try the contact information that they had. I thanked them for their help and took my new information to the internet.

I hoped that my Facebook friends would be able to help a little more. I posted my latest update about Bummer and proceeded to use the find friends feature to search for any David, Dawn and Jason E. I messaged all the Dawns and all but the last Jason before I received a warning from Facebook telling me that I was sending too many messages to quickly and if I continued to do so my account could be deleted. I posted the progress of my search and the warning I received so that my friends would hopefully complete my search for me.

I decided to give the search for the moment and went to go check the mail. Bummer tagged along. He made it there without any problem but he was winded by the time we made it back I helped him up the last few steps. There was no way he walked very far. The rocky driveway wasn’t kind to his paws and I didn’t think he would have walked along a road very far. Going through the woods seemed almost out of the question because of his balance. “How did Bummer get here?” seemed to be the question on everyone’s mind.

I picked the cockleburs out of his hair as he rested. We had do something about his hair every time he went outside he collected cockleburs. I called the Pink

Poodle Groomers in Cleveland and made an appointment for Tuesday to get him trimmed up and bathed. My finances were tight but I could accommodate a basic package at the groomers and the supplies I would need to care for Bummer till his people came.

I decided to read my book for awhile. I stretched out on my bed with my book in hand. I read for awhile before I noticed Bummer laying in the floor looking at me. I decided to put my pillows on the floor and read next to him until I fell asleep. My Mom came home from work and decided to wake me up after awhile. She opened my door and called my name, Bummer barked at her. She thought it was cute him “defending” me. I never heard her call my name or him bark, I was sleeping pretty deeply. I got up a bit later and my Mom told me about what Bummer had done.

I decided to make up a few fliers that advertised a found dog. I put one up at the church down the street thinking someone had visited the graveyard there on Veterans Day. I put a few more up at the local gas stations. Surely I’d hear from someone over the weekend.

I had to work over the weekend and I worried about how Bummer was going to handle that since I’d been at home the majority of the days since he had been with us. I slept on the floor with Bummer again on Friday night.

Saturday morning I made sure that Bummer had fresh food and water and petted him quite a bit before I got dressed for work. I had heard on the radio a few mornings ago that dogs comprehend about as much as a two year old child. By now I knew that Bummer was a pretty smart dog so I told him that I was going to work that I’d be back later. He seemed to understand. I told my brother to make sure if anyone called claiming Bummer that they could tell us about things I hadn’t mentioned in the fliers, I didn’t want Bummer to leave but I wasn’t letting him go to anyone other than his rightful owners.

I arrived at work to find out that I wasn’t scheduled. So I offered to pick up lunch for my co-workers before I left. They sent me to a restaurant to pick up their order. On the drive over I kept thinking that I really wanted to go home to play with Bummer but I knew that I would probably be offered a few hours of work that I should take. I made it back and worked a partial shift.

Once I clocked out I headed straight for the local Wal-Mart and headed straight to the pet department. I searched through bags of food for a senior formula that I thought was good enough for Bummer. I also bought a box of soft food carefully making sure that it was poultry only. (A grandmother of mine had a dog with allergies and she avoided red meat and pork in his foods.) I found a brush and some combs to help with managing his coat. I thought my mother had been complaining about Bummers smell so I found some pet perfume spray. (She told me later he only smelt like a dog after going outside but that smell passed quickly.) I looked for a pet bed and found them to be a little more than I was willing to pay. I found that regular pillows were on sale for five dollars for two. I decided to get two and replace a couple of my mother’s older pillows.

I came home and brought in all of Bummers goodies. He seemed more interested in me than his new things. He whined and wagged his tail excitedly as I tried to catch up on a day’s worth of petting. I took the older pillows off of the bed and put one behind my dad’s recliner and laid Bummers towel on it. I put the other pillow in my bedroom floor so he could have a place there too. I tried to brush him a bit and tried out his puppy perfume but he wasn’t too pleased with all that, at least he forgave me quickly.

I was tired and ready to lay down I needed to sleep on my bed tonight. Bummer followed me to my room he liked to stay close. I got into my pajamas and was about to switch off the light, when Bummer gave me that look. I decided that sleeping in the floor with the dog was about the same as sleeping in bed with a dog. I picked Bummer up and put him in bed. I switched off the light and went to bed I had to push him over to his side that turkey had gotten right in the middle. As I laid down I thought about the children’s story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and chuckled as I thought of my sister saying “the mouse winds up owning your house!”.

That Sunday I was off slept in, Bummer didn’t mind he was snoozing pretty well himself. Once I finally got up I got Bummers breakfast together and logged on the facebook. A few of the Dawns had replied saying that they weren’t Bummer’s owners and wishing me well on my search. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t heard from them yet. Some of my friends had taken the search for Bummers people to MySpace; I hoped they had better luck there.

My Mom said one of girl friends from church said there was a sale on pet beds at a local store. I went to the store to see if about an actual pet bed but I found that the sale had passed. I browsed the store anyways and found a red squeaky bone; I thought Bummer would enjoy playing with. That was the only purchase I made. I felt a little silly at the register.

When I came home Bummer enthusiastically greeted me. I petted him a little and then I squeaked his new squeaky toy and handed it to him. He took it straight to his “room” behind dad’s recliner he licked it tenderly. He never licked any of us; we began to think that he’d been trained not to. Bummer was becoming closer to all of us. We were starting to call him Bum-Bum or simply Bum.

The search for Bummers people wasn’t yielding any results. On Monday I called Rancho San Carlos to get Bummers records we needed them to get Bummer groomed. They were sympathetic to Bummers situation. They attempted to fax the records to our home phone line. We called them back and asked them to fax the records to the funeral home in Cleveland Texas where my grandma worked.

I talked to my grandpa about Bummer. I said “I can’t understand why his people haven’t come”. My Grandpa said young-un they don’t want that dog anymore. I argued that pointing out the sheer expense of his obvious upkeep. He told me in his younger days he sometimes invested a lot into an animal only to get upset and give it away. I told him that I knew someone had to love Bummer.

I hoped that Bummer was going to behave at the Pink Poodle. They charged more for rowdy dogs. I also worried that his owners would hate his new haircut or be upset that I took him in the first place.

Tuesday morning I hurried home from my psychology class to get bummer ready for his big day. I gave him a hearty breakfast and fresh water, while I looked for a leash. I was very anxious I hoped that Bummer wasn’t going to freak out on me. I had no luck with finding a leash around here. I decided to borrow on from my grandpa he wouldn’t mind. Bummer followed me outside and was happy that I opened my car door and helped him into the passenger seat. By the time I got to the driver’s side Bummer was sitting in my seat. I told him that he wasn’t allowed to drive and he got back to his seat. I fastened his seatbelt and headed over to grandpa’s house. Grandpa asked what I needed it for. I told grandpa that I was going to take that dog I found to the beauty shop. Grandpa laughed and said “you’re going to take a three-legged dog to the beauty shop if that don’t beat all”.

Once I got back into the car I clipped the leash onto Bummers collar and we headed into town. I kept the windows up on the way to town because it was too cold to keep them down. I lowered them about halfway in town. Bummer sat up in his seat and looked around I was thankful he never tried to stick his head out the window. We made it to the Pink Poodle a little early.

Bummer was well behaved on the leash once we went inside. We waited at the counter while people admired his manners and sympathized over his leg. They couldn’t believe that a three-legged dog had made it so far from the west coast. A lady joked and said this dog travelled more than she did! The owner of the Pink Poodle was very nice in explaining all of my options we decided a short hair cut would be ideal especially with the cocklebur problem. She let me smell the male and female dog shampoo. I had no clue gender based dog shampoo existed! I chose the female scent because the male scent smelled like pine-sol. I asked them to call as soon as they were done with Bum-Bum.

I felt pretty lonely once I got home and he wasn’t there to greet me. The day passed slowly. No messages on the machine. Another Dawn on facebook let me know that Bummer wasn’t hers. I was itching to get Bummer back home. Finally the call came. I was out the door and after him in an instant.

I arrived at the Pink Poodle” and Bummer knew I was there he started barking like hear I am I am ready to go home NOW” and they brought Bummer up to the counter as they saw me walking in. Bummer was so naked compared to before, but he looked good. They left a little fluff on top of his head and had trimmed his ears neatly. Bummer was very excited to see me and more excited to leave. I opened my passenger door and helped him in. I laughed when I realized they had sprayed glitter on him at least the orange bandana wasn’t too girly. Bum was happy to get home. He got all the attention he could stand and decided to take a nap.

When he went outside now he wasn’t picking up many cockleburs and the ones he did came off easily. He seemed to like that. I was glad that the short hair cut was doing its job. That night Bummer was easy to sleep with. He smelled great and his hair was so smooth it didn’t tickle when he came close.

Wednesday was a week that we had been taking care of Bummer it seemed like so much longer. Maybe I’d wind up keeping him. I decided that I had to keep up the search till the New Year before I gave up. It was hard keep searching when my family started getting attached.

Bummer was playing with his bone for a good while squeaking it and then growling at it. I thought it was cute watching him play. I played around on the internet awhile. I asked my Facebook friends if there had been any leads. Most of them hadn’t had any luck. One friend said he was finding a few possible people on MySpace. I asked him to continue his efforts. I wanted Bummer to be home for the holidays.

Bummers vet records hadn’t made it in yet. I hoped I’d get them soon maybe I could find some clues. Mom’s church friend prayed that Bummers people would come soon if they were coming at all. I thought that was a good thing to pray for. Thursday and Friday were just average. I went to school came home played with Bummer. Found no news on the internet. We all started talking about Bummers people more in an effort to not get so attached.

It was the weekend again before I knew it. Bummer was handling my absences a little better. I was had to work all weekend. I was hoping that if someone called about Bummer that I’d get a chance to say bye. Once at work time flew by quickly. I was offered a double shift for Sunday and accepted. I knew it’d be tough on Bummer missing me but I knew my family would be there with him to keep him entertained.

I was happy to see my brother’s friend Alec was playing with Bum-Bum and his bone when I came home. He was staying till Sunday evening I was relived Alec is really a nice boy and was keeping Bummer entertained. I asked the boys to feed him and take good care of him for me, while I worked a double on Sunday. They assured me it was no problem. I headed for bed and Bummer came right behind me. It was nice to know even though he enjoyed the boys he liked to sleep with me.

Sunday wasn’t so bad until around four o’clock. Something hit me hard and fast. My sinuses were draining very quickly and I felt slow and clumsy. One of my co-workers had been ill and I think that I caught her germs. I felt awful. I came in from work pretty unbalanced. It was all I could do to pet Bum-Bum. I had soup for dinner. My brother was concerned at how bad I felt. I took a hot shower and felt a little better. My sister called and asked me to run a very important errand for her on Monday I agreed because she was five hours away and the errand was of the upmost importance. I laid down with Bummer thankful for his warmth and company while I felt so bad.

Monday morning I skipped class. My brother woke me up he had missed the school bus. I was too weak to set Bummer on the floor from the high bed. I had my brother help Bummer down. I reheated the remainder of my soup for breakfast and chased it with thera-flu. I drove my brother to school and took care of my sisters errand and went back home. I decided that while I felt okay I’d better check on any messages or updates about Bummer. There was nothing new.

I got a call from my grandmother Bummers vet records were in her possession and I could get them at her house that evening. I was hopeful for new clues but thankful Bum-Bum was with me at the moment.

I picked up Bummers records and some more soup while I was out that afternoon. I read each page carefully scanning for clues. Bummer was very well taken care of as he had several pages of records. I found an address In Newport Rhode Island. This dog has to belong to a military family, I thought as I scanned the pages for any other clues. I found that Bummer’s people were in fact military a moment later. I had two new clues but maybe that was all I needed.

I got back on facebook and updated my friends with my latest clues. My friend that was searching MySpace said he found a person that matched all three places! I was excited. He messaged them but we didn’t hear back quickly.

I told my Mom that his owners are military, and we discussed the possible scenarios of Bummer winding up here in Plum Grove far away from a military base. We decided that it was possible that Bummer was left with friends or family while his owners were overseas. We wondered if the friends were careless or the family was older and unable to keep up with a dog. Perhaps Bummer was left a person who lived alone and had a medical emergency. Mom said let’s look in the phonebook if Bummer was left with the husbands people there’s hope. If he was left with the wife’s family we don’t her maiden name hopefully the dog wasn’t left with friends that’ll be almost impossible to find.

I pulled out the Trinity Valley phonebook and looked up the E.’s the owner’s last name wasn’t in this book. I tried the New Caney, Porter, Splendora phonebook there was one listing that matched the name we were looking for.

I saw that name and the address and I knew that it was over. We had found Bummer’s people. I tried the number and heard their modem screeching at me. I tried once more it was the same. I decided to try back in the morning Bummer and I headed to bed.

The next morning I was up early to take my grandma to visit one of her friends. I got Bum’s breakfast ready for him and I had a glass of tea. I was debating on calling that morning. I knew that everyone had gotten attached and wanted to say goodbye to Bummer. As I scrambled eggs for my own breakfast I decided to call that morning. I thought surely his owners can wait a few more hours till say goodbye.

I dialed the number and waited for a connection, I heard a man’s voice mixed with the screeching of a modem. As he silenced the screeching on the phone line Bummer watched me intently. In a moment it was clear and we restarted our conversation.

“Hello?” I breathed deeply before replying “hello, is this the E’s residence?” The man told me that it was. I slowly asked him if they had been missing a dog named Bummer. He said yes I’m missing a dog. I said “I have Bummer he’s been here just shy of two weeks”. He couldn’t seem to believe it. I asked if I could bring Bummer home after my mom got off work. He said he didn’t have any problem with that. After I hung up I told Bummer that I had found his people.

I had to get grandma off to her friend’s house but I kept thinking about Bummer on the drive over. My Grandma couldn’t believe that I had found his owners after so long. I came straight home from my errand with Grandma. I knew my time with Bummer was limited.

I came in and started getting things together for Bummers homecoming. I wrote a letter to his owners describing his time with my family and put it with his vet records. I started drawing a bath for him. I wanted him to go home nice and clean.

Bummer seemed to understand that he was leaving us. He behaved himself during his bath. It was so much easier now that he had a short hair cut. I dried him off and combed his ears so that they were nice and silky. I carefully replaced his collar and perfumed his bandana before replacing it. He looked just as nice as when he came back from the groomer minus the glitter.

Mom came in and we all spent a little time petting bummer. I gathered up his dog food and treats. I was getting anxious goodbyes are never easy. I went out to my dad’s shop and asked if he wanted to say goodbye to Bum. He came in and washed up. He petted Bummer for awhile explaining that he wasn’t the one who had made the call to send him home. He jokingly blamed me for “calling him in”.

I asked my mom and brother to come with me to return Bummer. They agreed to tag along. My Brother loaded the dog food into my trunk. I had my mom drive. I rode shotgun with Bummer in my lap. We drove up to their home and realized we had forgotten Bummers vet records and the letter I wrote so we doubled back for them. I didn’t think I could bear a second visit. We got the vet records and the letters and doubled back.

As we pulled in to the drive we noticed that the gate was wide open and that the fence had wide spaces in it. We pulled up to the first house and were greeted by an elderly man who was grinning ear to ear. We explained that we had Bummer and were here to return him. He said that was great but Bummer lived at the second house. He invited us to leave our car parked there while we walked to the house in the back.

We made our way across the yard to Bummers house. My mom knocked on the door. We heard little dogs barking and a man asking us to hang on just moment. He was moving a few things out of the way explaining that this door was seldom used. He invited us to come in and have a seat while he informed his wife of our presence.

We took Bummer in with us and settled in their living room. My mom and brother sat down on a large couch and I claimed an upright chair nearby. Mr. E and his wife came in and sat down to talk to us about Bummers adventure.

As we talked we discovered that Bummer was at our house within a couple of hours of being missing. We were amazed as we began to realize that we had posted found fliers at businesses adjacent from the businesses that they had posted the lost fliers. Mr. E had spoken to an uncle of ours the same day Bummer came to our house. Our uncle simply wasn’t aware of Bummer being with us. Mrs. E had stopped at the church just down the street before I’d gotten the fliers posted. Mr. E said that he had debated on coming up to our house but chose not to because of the crowd of vehicles that were outside my dad’s shop. He said he just had a gut feeling but he had ignored it.

We decided that Bummer had to have hitched a ride on an open door delivery truck that had visited them the afternoon Bummer vanished. The same truck must have visited one of our neighbors next that’s where Bummer decided to get off. This explains his excitement to see the Snap-On truck Bummer must have thought it was a ride back home.

Bummers owners were a military family his “dad” Jason E. was an officer on a navy ship. Bummers “mom” Dawn E. had been worried sick about him sending up to six e-mails a day to her in-laws’ asking about Bummers whereabouts.

Mr. E said “I don’t think it would have been such a big deal if I had gotten lost”. He also explained about Bummers missing limb. The story goes that Bummer was one of six puppies born in his mother’s first litter. Bummers mother began to chew the umbilical cords from the puppies and got carried away on Bummer chewing his leg as well. Bummer lost most of his siblings one way or another very quickly. Mr. E’s children decided that Bummer wasn’t going to be lost so according to Mr. E one vet trip and three hundred dollars later Bummer was saved.

As we stood to leave Bummer came to my mom, brother and I and “said” good bye. We unloaded Bummers “stuff” and handed it to Mr. E as we got back into the car. I handed Bummer his squeaky toy. He ran off in to the yard and set it down. He seemed to smile as he looked back our way. Mr. E sat Bummers treats on the ground and the other dogs gathered to check out all of his treats.

We backed out slowly as we waved goodbye. Bummer nudged his way into our hearts in the short time he was with us. But the most important thing is that Bummer made it home just in time for thanksgiving.


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