This is the final installment in a series about "the barber's dog." Click here to read parts one, two, three, and four.
For nearly 15 months, the barber's dog and I spent my lunch hour together. He would flirt from behind a chain link fence, and I would toss treats and reach in through the openings to pet him. Then, ColoRADogs swooped in for the rescue, delivering him from a cement lot in Oakland to his new life in Boulder, CO.
On May 16, I boarded a plane bound for Denver and went to visit my old friend. I think he remembered me? To be honest, it wasn't one of those dog-goes-nuts-when-soldier-comes-home-from-war videos that go viral and end up on the homepage of CNN. It was more of a gradual recognition: Oh, hey. It's ... you.
Fergus took my unbridled affection like a champ. He even offered a wiggle and snort or two of his own, just to prove he was in the spirit of things. But out of the corner of my eye I watched him watch Jessica, his foster mom, as she toured me around the house. She pointed out his favorite spots, and he tracked her every move. I got to see his beds and the drawer where his bully sticks are kept and the area in backyard where he first fell in love with his leggy foster sister, Panda. I saw that he was both adored and adoring.
Not consciously, but at some level, I began letting go of the idea - the guilt, really - that I should have found a way to keep this dog. Fergus so completely belonged here. I noticed the physical changes too. New fur filled in the once-patchy spots on his back and there was no sign of his former limp. He seemed so ... revitalized.
I suppose I was healing too.