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The old white dog.

I took the children out this morning

to procure spangly things for birthday invitations.

Town is a twenty minute drive in and so we may have  been gone for a little over an hour.

As we rounded the corner, we noticed a small white dog gingerly walking down our street.

She was matted and skinny and she walked as one who had been on a long journey.

I could tell that nobody had looked after her for a very long time,

She had a look of sheer determination on her face though

and I hoped that she would not try to wander into our path as we passed her.

She did not see us as we slid past her -

just kept on walking.

My big girls sat for as long as they could before they took from the bus and  up to the old dog.

She was not frightened of them, she simply acknowledged their presence and then went to keep on with her journey

but a few steps in she seemed to tire

and so she sat and watched all of us.

I wondered what to do at first

and then I called the vet, who gave us the number for the ranger service.

They asked us to secure the dog,

for they didn’t know how long it would take for them to make their way to our community.

I was worried that the dog might turn because we were strangers and clearly she was not in any fit state

but Maddy came back with towels

and Immy with our red wagon

and Lily with some food and water

and she looked up at them as if to say ‘I’m done’.

They scooped her up and brought her home.

She sat in that wagon, while the girls trundled it down the street so slowly and carefully,

for fear, I think, she might break

and she ate and drank as one who had not for the longest time.

She had just one jaunty tooth left in her mouth but she managed somehow

and for the next hour the girls loved on her and told this poor mangy beast that she was lovely.

Even our other dogs were respectful.


When we first moved we lost a little white dog.

She was frightened of thunder storms and one night

burrowed under the fence and into the darkness.


We searched everywhere and placed signs in the nearby pub.

Then one day someone contacted us and said that they had found her dead on the main road into town.

Hit by a car.

Dave went to retrieve her body and he buried her in the back yard.

I didn’t look.


We were newly rehomed

and I was pregnant.

It was all too much.


When I looked into the face of the old white dog I thought for all the world that she might be ours.

Her face was suddenly familiar

and she seemed to recognise our yard

and us.

She looked to be deaf and partially blind

but she must have been a beauty when she was younger.

Just like our girl

and the kids suddenly said “It couldn’t be her, could it”

and brought out old photos to compare

and goodness, if she didn’t have the same features.

By the time the ranger arrived, I was convinced we had made a mistake all of those years ago and the dog lying before me was ours.

By some miracle she  had found her way home

and even though I knew she was old and sick and would need a lot of care to see her through

I hoped.

I secretly hoped.


The ranger took the scanner and ran it over her body, looking for a chip.

Our girl was chipped

and we all held our breath for what seemed to be the longest time

but there was no beep indicating that she belonged to someone.

There was nothing.

The ranger tried twice more but nothing registered

and so we knew it couldn’t be

and that glimmer of hope died, right there, in our yard

and as if she knew

that poor old girl lay her head on my hand and shut her eyes.


I sent the kids inside then, not sure what would happen next.

I felt my eyes filling up with stupid tears.

The ones that fall when you least want them to.

The ranger said she looked as though she was sick and would not last the seven days

of required holding in the pound.

She said they would clean her up

and feed her

and get her all of the best veterinary care they could

but if there was no hope they would do the humane thing and put her down.

It was the right thing to do,

the only thing

because there might be someone else out there hoping for their girl to return.

It didn’t make me feel any better.


I asked that if she did survive

and nobody came to claim her

that they contact us

so she could live her last days with people who would love her

and respect her for who she is -

the little white dog, who looked as though she had been on the longest of life’s journeys,

who came to us one Friday

at the end of the road.


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21 Responses to “The old white dog.”

  • pixie (213 comments.):

    oh Tiff…………..


  • Jayne (197 comments.):

    You made me cry *sniff*

  • Jackie:


  • Trish (588 comments.):

    Tears for the both the little white dogs (hugs).

  • river (194 comments.):

    You’ve made me cry Tiff, that poor little dog wandering all alone.
    I’m so glad your girls brought her home for some loving.
    I hope she makes it and comes home to you.

  • Chantel:

    In floods of tears. I really hope she pulls through so she can enjoy her last times with the love your family will give her xx

  • Melody:

    Oh, I can barely type through the tears (trying not to let the kids see me cry over a dog story) You have a wonderful way with words, thanks for sharing this. I’ll go back to my sobbing now…

  • Veronica (703 comments.):

    I hope she has a family waiting for her. And if not, I hope they ring you. x

  • Katie:

    That poor old dog. I so pray someone owns her & comes for her. She deserves to be searched for like you did for yours.

    I’m on my way to Haiti in a few weeks, & am finishing up with all my shots. My doctor told me I should get the rabies shot, but it wasn’t essential. “Just don’t go near any animals & you will be fine.” The prophylactic rabies course is 3 shots, one week apart. The shots are $120 each. I wondered whether I should just forego the injections; after all, it’s not like I have that sort of money anyway. But it’s old dogs like this who break my heart to the place where it’s meant to be….& like you, I can’t let them die alone. So $360 later & a WHOPPER of a sore arm, I’m mid-way through my rabies shots. Youch.

    Will def be praying for the old white dog. Beautiful thing.

  • melbo:

    I hope you get her back. But even if you don’t, that moment of kindness would have meant a lot to her.

  • Deb @ Bright & Precious (32 comments.):

    I’m in tears. Tiff, you have a way of telling sad stories in such a dignified way.

  • Mrs Catch (4 comments.):

    Oh, that’s just the most beautiful story. I hope the little white dog makes it. Your family sounds just what she needs

  • Rah (4 comments.):

    That pup was so lucky to find you guys. And you were lucky to find her

  • Liz:

    i hope she comes back to you. what a lucky pup she would be.

    i can’t think of my dog’s days before he came to me–he’s so sweet and to think of him wandering alone through the world is too hard.

  • Miss ash tuesday (89 comments.):

    Oh that was wicked of you. I just had to find a way to not cry at my desk. Dear girl. <3

  • Jeanette (42 comments.):

    Oh my goodness, how sad :(

  • Kathleen (67 comments.):


    My heart was breaking for his little dog, so lost, so sad, so ugly, so hungry. But my heart leap with joy at the response of your girls to this little creature. Such sweetness and compassion is not easily taught to young children these days, but you have instilled this in yours. Please let them know how very proud I am of them. Wish we had many more like them in our world.

    Love Kathleen and the Memphis Mob in Tennessee

  • Maid In Australia (4 comments.):

    Poor little white dogs. Lovely you. And your darling family. I hope this little white dog passes over to the rainbow bridge in the way she deserves!

  • mum:

    Oh, Tiff, I think she WILL make it because the love and care shown her by the kids will give her hope and the will to live a little longer. Then, hopefully, she’ll be yours, to enjoy the wealth of human kindness & love so freely given by the kids to this little lost waif, at the end of her life’s journey. xoxo

  • Achelois (104 comments.):

    I commented and it disappeared. So here I go again. I went to a funeral today and inside me was a mountain of tears. I read this and just fell apart. The world is a better place because you and your family are in it. Your writing is special, you are talented. The little white dog, was meant to find you.

  • Jo:

    Tiff… oh boy. xxx Hugs for you, your family and ‘your’ little white dog and hugs for ‘this’ little white dog too . You were all meant to find each other. I shudder to imagine what may have happened to her without your family.

    You write with such sensitivity that I’m left a blubbering mess. AGAIN …lol xxxxx thank you.

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