Coan River waterfrontTed and I were out in our Virginia backyard on the eve of a holiday weekend in early summer 1999. We moseyed down toward the river that flowed just beyond the house.

Secreted among the estival marsh grasses, trees, and other vegetation that grows at the river's edge lived birds from every avian tourist group on the eastern flyway. From the wetlands, we heard bird noises that sounded like kittens mewing.

Then three kittens came bouncing from the weeds, making noises like birds.

The public landing next door to us was a popular destination for evil people who come into possession of pets, but don't really want them. Its isolated location made an ideal pet dumpsite. It must have been that way for many years. Just after we bought the property in 1978, we loaded up Ted's Volkswagen with camping equipment and the dog and drove down to spend a weekend. The dog had never been there before.

The dog had no reason to believe he would ever be abandoned. He was Ted's cherished companion; Ted would have abandoned me before he would have abandoned that dog. He was a wonderful dog, by the way. I cherished him too.

When we parked the car on the property, the dog got out of the car, sniffed around for a minute, then climbed right back in and refused to come out. Not characteristic behavior for him at all. He was comfortable in the out-of-doors and loved to explore when we took him camping. Ted had to drag him out of the car. Then the dog was out, but was obviously ill-at-ease. He neither relaxed nor let us out of his sight the entire weekend.