I found this dog in my backyard yesterday.

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My backyard is fully fenced. The fence is six feet high–although now that I’ve typed that, I kinda want to go stand next to it and see if it’s higher. Suffice to say that, though, that it’s high enough that I can’t look over it. And this dog–this little sweetheart of a dog–was just placidly wandering around inside. No collar, of course, so no tags.

I did the obvious: took him out and encouraged him to go home. He didn’t.

I wandered my neighborhood, asking every one I saw if they recognized him. I talked to kids and grown-ups, neighbors I know and people I’ve never met. It was sorta nice, actually–people are quite friendly when you’re walking around with a lovable stray.

I took him to the vet to see if he had a microchip. I think he recognized the vet’s office. He was quite cheerful about getting there. And two people at the vet’s felt like they knew him but couldn’t come up with a name. No microchip, unfortunately.

I brought him home and made some signs and in absolutely miserable late afternoon, pre-storm humidity, wandered around putting Found Dog notices up. I got pretty cranky during that part. This is a small, slow dog. He could not possibly have wandered far. Why weren’t his owners out looking for him?

I looked online. Checked with one person whose lost dog was a remote maybe. He wasn’t hers. Posted a message and a picture on a local lost dog site. Called Animal Control and filed a found dog report.

And now I wait. It’s been 24 hours and counting now, and I have to believe that somewhere out there an owner’s heart is breaking because he is the sweetest, nicest friendliest little dog. Wherever he came from, he has been well-loved, because he thinks people are just swell, and strange dogs (I’ve got Gizmo again, so two) are new friends, and that snuggling up and getting his ears rubbed is simply his due. Not to mention that he probably ought to go on a diet, he’s well-fed. Plus, his teeth are fantastic–I bet his owner actually brushes them.

Still, wherever that owner is, she had better get her act together soon, because with every passing hour, the evil temptation to go rip down my signs and head off to the pet store to buy him a new collar and tags with my address on them grows stronger.

If he becomes ours, his name will be Mystery.

(I won’t rip down the signs, of course, but I might take the car and start driving around other neighborhoods looking for signs. I don’t understand how he could have gotten into my backyard, but maybe he managed to wander farther than one would expect.)