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The Brown Chow

My friend Lawan's daughter had a brown chow, who was supposed to stay in the back yard with her other dog, a Lhasa Apso. One day Lawan's daughter came home from the grocery store and said to the brown chow on her front porch, "What are you doing out here? You are supposed to be in the back yard." She opened the back gate and shooed the brown chow into the yard. Then she went inside and sat down on the couch looking out the window. Contentment turned to consternation as she realized that she was looking at not one but two brown chows playing with the smaller dog in the back yard. That had not been her brown chow on the porch.

Coincidentally, about this time Lawan was looking for a dog, and she wanted a brown chow because she liked her daughter's dog. When a poster campaign and newspaper ad failed to produce an owner for the new brown chow, Lawan adopted him. She took him to a groomer, who said, "How do you want him cut?" Lawan didn't know. The groomer said, "How about a lion cut?" Lawan agreed, so the groomer clipped the dog's fur short everywhere except his tawny ruff and the end of his tail. He looked just like a little lion.

Then he ran away. He jumped at the fence repeatedly while Lawan was at work until his 70 pounds brought the whole thing down. When Lawan got home, the old lady next door described the escape, and the dog was nowhere to be seen. Lawan called and called. Then she thought she heard his bark coming from the house directly behind her. Lawan went around the block and asked the man who lived there if he had seen her brown chow. This neighbor was a paunchy, furtive-looking man about 50 years old. He said he hadn't seen her dog.

Lawan went home and from her backyard called her dog, as loud as she could. He answered her. This time, Lawan was a little more direct. "You stole my dog," she told the man when he came to the front door again. He denied it. But after she left, he let her dog out the back door, and by the time Lawan reached her own front door, the brown chow was waiting for her.

"He's so smart," she says. "I told him, 'If you don't think I take care of you, go ahead. Run away. If you think you can do better, fine. But this time, don't come back. Because it hurts me when you run off. It hurts me to love you.'" She says he ran off a way and then stopped. Then he came back and laid his head in her lap. And he never ran off again.

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