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SOMEWHERE OUT there, my Sheba is guiding them. Keeping them safe. The one in charge. The queen of the pack.

Sheba was always the dominant “alpha” dog in our household. If Sammy, our high-strung cocker spaniel, or Daphne, the excitable standard poodle got overly rambunctious, our Collie-Doberman mix would step in and settle them. She’s a natural leader.

Collie-Dobermans are medium-sized dogs, known for their loyalty and strong sense of adventure. They’re also smart as whips. Heck, if I were to fall down a well, I wouldn’t want the Lassie on television to come to my rescue. I’d want Sheba.

Our town adjoins a large metropolitan city of a million inhabitants. Within its borders are a large, 170-acre landscaped cemetery along with dozens of acres of undeveloped wooded lands that abuts our property. We have all manner of wild critters in the area, including: skunks, rabbits, possums, foxes, raccoons — and coyotes. Normally, we never see coyotes. But every time a fire truck or ambulance speeds down a main road, their sirens set off the coyotes’ howling. It’s as they’re calling out to their kin, Come play with us! Come join in our hunt!

Last month, Sammy and Daphne heard an animal outside. Probably it was a possum or raccoon. In a flash, the two slipped through the back gate because Delores didn’t fasten it properly. Before I could even yell, Sheba tore out after them. In less than five minutes, she had herded them safely back inside the fence — none the worse for wear. I was greatly relieved but I could tell the experience changed Sheba somehow. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it.

A week later, I was outside in the backyard with Sheba when a fire truck came racing down the road in response to a call, bringing forth a cacophony of howls. Sheba looked at me. Then she looked in the direction of the coyote calls. Then she looked back. Our eyes locked. Suddenly, I knew what she was thinking.

“Don’t do it. Don’t go there, Sheba. Please.”

Sheba looked conflicted. I knew part of her heart was telling her to remain with her beloved human-canine family in the safe confines of our cape house. The other part was aching to be united with her wild brethren.

“I love you!” I cried.

Sheba cocked her head then she whined as if to apologize. In an instant she made a running leap up onto the picnic table and hopped over the fence.

I’ve gone out numerous times looking for her since but I’m sure that she doesn’t want to be found. I reckon she’s made new friends and a new home with her pack. Perhaps she has imparted her wisdom about my kind to the wild ones. No doubt they’ve taught her that food doesn’t come in cans and bags but instead it has to be tracked, chased, caught and killed.

Nowadays, when a siren goes off and the pack starts to call out, one of the voices I hear is clearly distinguishable from the rest. It’s deeper and more full-throated. It connotes an air of authority and leadership.

I pray that Sheba will return to us someday — if only long enough to introduce us to her new family.


Image of Phllip Temple

Phillip Temples is a product of the American Midwest but has lived in the greater Boston area for the past 40 years. He’s published several mystery-thriller novels, a novella, and two story anthologies in addition to over 180 short stories. Phil likes to dabble in mobile photography. Phil is a member of GrubStreet and the Bagel Bards. You can learn more about him by visiting his website at

1 comment
  1. Fascinating story and a pleasure to read. We tend to forget that dogs are wild animals until they attack someone they are not meant to, sometimes with horrific results, especially for young children. In that sense, I’m not sure Sheba visiting with her new friends would be guaranteed to be a pleasant experience. 😉

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