Here’s the rest of what happened… Back at LaQuinta Honey greeted me happily, I took her for a walk, then gave her dinner. And though I knew the keys weren’t in my bag, I compulsively went through it again. In a small side compartment I discovered a single ignition key I didn’t remember having or putting there. Providence!

So I took a taxi to the station and retrieved the car. I’d planned to visit my friend Eleanor the next day at her new assisted living home in Malverne, but feeling tired, drove back to Maryland in the morning. On the way, I called my neighbor Charlotte who had a key to my apartment, and Honey and I came happily home.

I’d reported the lost keys to the Long Island Railroad, and now called The Irish Rep. Yes, they’d found them under my seat, easily identifiable with an attached ceramic cross. They’d put them in the mail. Two weeks later, no keys, I called again and threatened to withdraw my offer of an Irish soda bread on my next visit. They arrived in three days.

The holidays were lovely. The calm before the storm. Christmas morning with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson. The sled, snowsuit, boots, hat and gloves I gave him were perfect gifts this snowy, chilly winter. On January 1st I invited neighbors to toast the New Year, and the next Saturday family and friends came for brunch to celebrate the season.

Honey was quieter than usual that day, staying under the table or in the space between the sofa and patio door. She wouldn’t eat anything, and I couldn’t give her insulin. Later, she retched, spitting up foamy stuff. The vet was closed for the weekend. I prayed Honey would be hungry in the morning.

No improvement. Honey frighteningly lethargic. Early Sunday I took her back to the Animal Emergency Hospital where last April she’d been diagnosed and treated for diabetes. Another week of fluid and insulin drips, then food and injections, and home at last for two good days — then two days of refusing food again.

Dr. Boles, our wonderful new vet, told me Honey would soon be suffering. Before she said anything else, I tearfully told her I knew it was time to say goodbye to my angel. My son and I would come to her office at 4 PM on January 15th. About 2 PM that afternoon, my son called from work to tell me he’d seen something on the Internet that could help. “Try to get some meat drippings into Honey’s mouth,” he said.

At first I protested, said I’d given up hope — but I just happened to be simmering two lean pork chops in a covered pan. Extracted some juice and squirted it through the side of her jaw — she licked her lips and ate a good portion of meat and whole wheat noodles. Gave her insulin. Crisis averted. Appointment cancelled. A few days later Bethany at Bon Bon on Main Street groomed her beautifully — and she emerged with pink ribbons in her hair, her lively self again.

Nothing stays serene for long in our lives. On the early evening of Saturday, January 18th, one of the coldest nights we’d had, I opened my patio door to retrieve a package I’d left outside — and in bounded a big, brown dog I took to be a boxer, while Honey sprinted to another room.

I was more surprised than frightened — the animal was clean and handsome. But I was relieved when he promptly obeyed Sit and Paw like a gentleman, earning treats eaten gently from my hand. Obviously someone’s trained, beloved pet. I knocked on a few neighbors’ doors to ask for advice and help — and soon about a dozen excited people from the building were in the hallway and my apartment.

Then I called the Sheriff’s office and learned they weren’t allowed to get involved unless I’d been harmed! But an officer soon showed up to observe the situation. The dog had no collar, and Donna, whose daughter Dominique minds Honey sometimes, suggested I take him to the animal hospital where they could see if he had an ID chip. One by one, the neighbors left, and the officer offered to help me get the dog into my car, attaching Honey’s pink leash.

The big guy whimpered and cried all the way, breaking my heart a little, but was welcomed by the caring staff, who assured me they’d take good care of him, and if not claimed by Tuesday, would turn him over to the Harford County Humane Society. There was no chip. They said later they’d all fallen in love with him.

Two days later, January 20th, Martin Luther King Day, my neighbor, Joan, told me she’d seen a sign on a nearby lamppost: “Lost Dog: Male, Friendly, 60-70 pounds, Boxer, Pit Bull, Lab Mix.” I called the number, spoke to Bryan, who said he was minding him for a friend whose house had burned, and didn’t know how he’d gotten out.

I asked Bryan to stop by my home after he collected Rocky — I might have named him Champ — so I could take a picture of him with Honey. He never showed up. He didn’t thank me. He didn’t return the pink leash. It takes all kinds.

Joan commented: “Eileen, you should write a book.” I think that’s what I may be doing.

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