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Paw Prints On Our Hearts

Story ID:4970
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
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It was a Saturday morning in late February. Ginny and I stood on our patio. The
warmth of the morning sun gave us hope of spring. “What a beautiful morning,” she

We were new to Boise, Idaho and not familiar with the climate. “Do you think
winter’s over?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I’m new here too. It ...” She was interrupted when a brown-and-
white, English Springer Spaniel ran around the corner of the house and stopped to stare
at us. “Look!”

I turned. ”Well! Hello, Fella.”

“Isn’t that the dog from down the street?”

“You mean the one I saw a few months ago? I saw him running down the street.
He wouldn’t come when I called to him.”

“That’s the one. I remember the guy a few doors down. He stopped and asked if
we’d seen his dog.”

I looked at the dog. “He said his dog got loose.”

“I think he said his name was Jasper.”

I knelt. “Here; Jasper! Here, Fella!” Jasper ran to us, turned in circles, brushed
against our legs, wiggled his stubby tail, and enjoyed our pets.

“Come on, Jasper.” Ginny said and reached for the patio door.

“You’re not going to let him in the house are you?” I asked.

“We can’t let him run loose. What if he gets hit by a car?”

“What about the cat? He’ll attack her.”

“I doubt it, and Kitten can just get over it. We’re not letting this dog run loose.”

I followed them into the house. Jasper ran into the kitchen, turned, and stared at
us with his tongue hanging out. “Jasper, come!” He ran to me, sat at my feet, and enjoyed
more petting. “Did you get loose again?” He stared at me with his big brown eyes and
said nothing.

“Where’s the cat?” I asked Ginny.

“Last I saw, she was on the sofa.”

I walked into the den. Jasper followed. Kitten jumped up from her nap, saw the
dog, raised the fur on her back, and hissed. Jasper looked at her, turned to me and seemed
to ask, “What’s her problem?” and went back into the kitchen.

Gin, are you OK with these two? I’ll walk down the street and let them know their
dog got loose.”

“I’m fine!”

“OK! I’ll be right back.”

The owners weren’t home. I left a note with our address on their door. “Jasper is
at our house. Come get him when you get home.”

When Jasper wasn’t looking, Kitten ran upstairs. Ginny and I sat on the sofa.
Jasper stretched out across my feet. We watched television, as I read email. I was typing
a reply, but was interrupted by a paw that landed rudely on my thigh. Jasper stared at me.
“What do you want?” I asked.

Jasper looked up and placed his head next to the paw on my leg. I gave him a pet.
When he thought I wouldn’t notice, he lifted a hind leg onto the sofa. A minute later, he
slid all forty of his pounds onto my lap and tried to curl up. He realized my lap wasn’t
big enough and settled for the middle of the sofa between us, where he could enjoy pets
from both directions.

Throughout the morning, Jasper followed us around the house, stopping
occasionally to eat our cat’s food and drink her water. At noon, I left to go to my writing
group. “Gin, are you sure you’ll be OK with him?”

“Like I said before, I’ll be fine. Jasper won’t be a problem.”

Three hours later, I returned. Ginny was curled in one corner of the sofa reading a
book. Jasper curled comfortably in the other. He lifted his head, stared at me, and
yawned. “Are you comfortable, Jasper?” He yawned again, settled his chin on his paws,
and closed his eyes.

Ginny laughed. “There’s your answer.”

Jasper stayed with us the rest of the afternoon. It was early evening before his
owner arrived to take him home. Apparently, Jasper dug a hole under the fence in their
backyard to make his escape. His owner thanked us for taking care of Jasper and called
for him to follow him home. Jasper hesitated and then did as he was told, but not before
pausing a moment to look back at us.

“Thanks for visiting, Jasper.” I said. “It’s time for you to go home.”

I watched them turn the corner and disappear from view. Ginny and I went inside.
The house seemed empty. We’d both owned dogs in our pasts. Jasper reminded us of the
unconditional love and trust they can give. He was with us for only eight hours, but we
missed him. He’d come into our lives and left his mark – paw prints on our hearts.

Michael T. Smith