As if he had every right to be there, the old hound dog rushed into our backyard and sniffed at everything he found. When he saw how empty Red Dog's food dish was he frowned at us in a way that said we should have had food waiting for him.
Red Dog and I could not believe that any dog could be so rude!
His ears and jowls hang so loosely that every step he took his face shook and made sloppy sounds. He stank and drooled. His huge feet were caked with mud from wandering all night in the fields.
And in his eyes there was the look of being lost.
I was so used to Red Dog's good manners, dignified appearance and self confidence that as I watched the old hound I felt queazy. Even Red Dog seemed half afraid and half ashamed. Quivering, he sneaked around to stand behind me.
"Red Dog," I said, "he's run away from that 'coon hunter we heard last night in Bryant's Woods. I'll see if the owner's name is on his collar... "
Holding out my hand, I walked toward the old hound.
On legs that could not carry him fast enough, the sad-looking dog shot into the cornfield, his eyes ablaze with fear, his pitiful howls sounding as if they came from something dying. Only when he was deep inside the cornfield did he quieten down.
"I'm glad that this happened, Red Dog," I said. "Every day we should remember that the lives you and I share are very special, and that at any moment things could change. Today we must live every second as if tomorrow our own lives will become like the life of that poor old hound.