“Come on, Shep. Let’s take a walk.”
The dog followed Michael through the yard and across a farmer’s field that lay fallow that year. They tramped over straw and clumps of uneven soil. Michael sat down in the middle of the field. Shep waited sniffing the ground around them. Michael wanted to keep Shep. He’d have to wait and see what happened, but he wouldn’t give up until there was no hope.
Shep followed Michael across the field and up the road as far as Michael was allowed to go by himself. The Broadmers had rules for Michael to follow. Ordinarily, avoiding discipline was the deterrent to rule breaking, but on this day, not invoking within his parents the idea that Shep might be a bad influence on him was paramount. Intelligent young man that Michael was, he knew the issues. Michael hurried home not wanting his mother to imagine that he’d violated the borders of his approved territory because he was distracted by his beloved Shep.
That night Michael’s father allowed Shep to sleep on the porch. He wanted the dog to have an opportunity to go back home, wherever that might be, so he didn’t bring Shep inside. This decision pleased Mrs. Broadmer, although she kept it to herself. In the morning Shep was still there.
This pattern went on for another week, at the end of which time Michael’s parents agreed to let him keep Shep. Mr. and Mrs. Broadmer together gave Shep a bath outside in a large metal tub purchased for this singular purpose. Shep reluctantly endured this intrusion into his private life. Michael prepared a special place for Shep to sleep in his room, but Shep slept in Michael’s bed instead. Michael was a grateful and happy young man.