One morning three days before Christmas, Linda and Buddy brought home a dog Buddy had discovered cowering beneath some shrubs on the property of Linda’s Methodist church, in the Texas portion of Anthony. Not much older than a pup, he appeared to weigh about 20 pounds.
Everything about him suggested his life so far had been a hard one. His fur was dirty and extremely coarse―I’d have sooner caressed the straws of an old wisk broom―a sign of malnutrition. His ears were nocked, likely the result of altercations with stray dogs and cats, perhaps stray humans as well. We determined a red heeler was somewhere beneath the wreckage. He quailed at the approach of a hand. We could only imagine what that meant. Of course, this being the Anthonys, he had no collar.
We looked at the pathetic thing at our feet. Then we looked at each other. I knew Linda didn’t bring him directly home for nothing, or, at this point in our lives together, even for a trip to the shelter in Las Cruces.
“Merry Christmas?” I said.
She beamed and we hugged.
When I gathered up and lifted the wretched fellow, he stiffened in my arms. I took him to the tub in the laundry room, where we bathed him. For a name, in keeping with the season and given the state of his ears, I suggested “Nick,” and Linda approved.
Soon, Nick was gaining a pound a week and his fur was softening.