Lost and found

“In the Neighborhood,” a story told by Haddonfield resident Jeanne Sundberg.

The second day of autumn was the perfect day to work in the garden, which I had been doing for several hours. Long overdue for lunch, I headed toward the garage to put my tools away at 1:30 p.m.

That is when I saw the little guy standing in front of the open door to the garage.

I don’t know whether he had been hanging around for a while or had just arrived. He looked at me and headed into the garage as if he were used to doing so.

What a cute little dog he was with a white coat and tan spots and big, intelligent eyes.

He was well mannered, quiet and very clean.

Although there was no collar, I felt certain that he must belong to someone living nearby.

Not feeling very confident about how to handle the situation, I closed the garage door and brought him a pan of water. I tried to recall if I had anything stored in the garage that could harm him. My garage is no place to spend much time.

Before sitting down to have a sandwich, I quickly checked with my next-door neighbor and the neighbor on the other side of him. Neither was aware of any small dog living nearby.

I telephoned the Haddonfield Police and reported that I had this lost dog in safekeeping.

While my mother and I were eating, Mister Softee passed the house and the little white dog came alive. He began yapping and was quite excited. I was now convinced that the dog must be from the area.

But, I was haunted by one thought: If I let him out of the garage, would he simply go home? I didn’t know.

After lunch I walked around the block to Rhoades and started to knock on doors. Everyone I approached seemed concerned. A woman out for a walk with her daughter said that the only white terrier she knew lived a good distance from Maple.

She said that she would keep a lookout for anyone missing a dog.

One young boy who just returned home from playing soccer wanted to see the dog. I told him that the dog was in my garage and that I needed to find his home before it got dark. The boy said that two small white dogs lived down the street several blocks and that he would know if he could see the dog. This soccer player gave me a good lead.

A few doors down a homeowner told me to check the white house with the porch because they have two dogs. The couple living in the house with the porch said that they didn’t have two dogs, they had two children and “they come home.” They pointed to a house behind them on Hawthorne that has a dog.

I continued along the street and noticed a sign on a telephone pole with a picture of a brown lab that was missing.

Beyond the posting, a man was raking leaves and I asked him if he knew of anyone owning a small white dog. He appeared startled and said, “It all makes sense now.” He observed a man driving up and down the street and whistling out of the window only about fifteen minutes before I interrupted his raking. I told him that I lived on Maple and gave him my address.

Keeping my eyes open for a man whistling out the window of a black SUV, I hurried home. While hastening, a scary thought crept into my mind — what happens if I don’t find the owner today?

It was about 3 p.m. and I had promised my mother that we would go to L.L. Bean’s.

With time running short, we got into the car and took a detour to Hawthorne where I spoke with a man meticulously inspecting his lawn. He was able to identify all the dogs across the street and on his side of the block — no small white dogs.

I could squeeze in one more drive along Rhoads where I noticed a blue SUV parked in the driveway next to the cupcake truck. The couple living there were very concerned about this little dog and said that they wanted to help.

They would follow me home, take a picture of the dog, and post it on the Internet to their network of friends.

I was a little uncomfortable about this, but they assured me there would be no personal information given. I agreed and my mother and I headed back home with the cupcake man following closely behind us. If we had no luck finding the owner by the time we returned from Bean’s, I decided that I would buy a collar and a lease and take the dog for a walk, hoping he would lead me to his house.

It would be worth a try.

As I rounded the corner from Wayne onto Maple, to my delight I saw a black SUV in my driveway and a young man attaching a sign to my front door. I honked the horn, waved, and jumped out of the car.

From the garage the little white dog was barking happily at the sound of his master’s voice and practically jumped into the arms of his joyful owner when a door to the garage was opened.

The owner said that one of the people I had spoken with about the lost dog directed him to my home.

He explained that he had given his two dogs a bath in the morning and one of them slipped away without his collar.

My guess is that these are the two white dogs that the young soccer player mentioned.

I want to thank all the people on Maple, Rhoads, and Hawthorne who were concerned about the little white dog and his owner and who all, in their own way, contributed to a very happy outcome for the little white dog, his owner and me. Thank you!