"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand." - Chinese proverb

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Penny was a Golden Retriever.  She belonged to my friend and employer Gregg Fisk and his partner Wendy Manes.  I worked for Gregg in his flower shop/boutique, Chester Herbworks,  in downtown Chester.   Gregg and Wendy brought Penny to work with them most days.  She was a lovely dog and had her "route," strolling up and down Main Street and stopping here and there to visit other shopkeepers and their patrons.  It was the early 1980s, a fun and friendly time in Chester center.
We often worked into the night with custom jobs and closed up when we could.  One night when we went to close, Penny was nowhere to be seen.  It wasn't at all like her.  We started to canvas the streets, figuring she was surely nearby having a long talk with someone -- or maybe she was getting "treats" at one of the restaurants and didn't want to leave.  However, we couldn't find her, though everyone we spoke to had indeed seen her that day.  Now we were very worried and jumped in our cars, driving slowly through nearby neighborhoods, calling her name and asking everyone we saw if they'd keep an eye out for her.  Sadly, no luck.
The next day we made posters and offered a reward, putting my phone number on them because Wendy and Gregg lived in New Britain, at least a half hour away, and as I lived in town it would be easier for me to quickly follow any leads.  We plastered the town with these flyers.  A day went by, then two.  There were a few apparent sightings of Penny, but she was not to be found.  Then I had an idea.

I had just graduated from Middlesex College and had read their brochure about adult summer education.  One of the offerings was "Learning About The Paranormal," which was going to be taught by a man who lived in town.  His name was Roger Pyle.  I had never heard the term "paranormal," and when I looked it up I was intrigued.  I was debating taking the course myself.  I started to wonder, is it possible that Roger would have an idea that would help us?  Could he "read" Penny and give us a lead as to where she might be?

We called Roger, told him the situation and he said by all means, come on over -- and bring something that belongs to Penny.  We drove to his house; Roger and his wife Nancy greeted us.  We all sat down and talked.  Everyone has potential to be psychic, they told us, and everyone had a sixth sense; the trick was learning how to use it.  Roger took Penny's rubber ball and sat quietly.  Nancy draped Penny's blanket over her lap and shut her eyes.  Suddenly she said "I'm getting something."

Penny was in a black pickup truck, she said.  And she was seeing a man with a cowboy hat.  She couldn't tell if Penny was still close by, but she had another vision of Penny lying on a red tiled floor where it was cool.  We had no reason to doubt Nancy, but the information didn't help; I mean, this is a little New England village, there are hundreds of black pickup trucks around...except we didn't know anyone who wore a cowboy hat.  But the visit was not entirely in vain.  We had met two nice people who gave us support and encouragement.

The next morning, another phone call came in -- another possible sighting of Penny by some folks on Goose Hill Road -- not too far from the center of town.  It was a very hot day.  I drove up with my mom to talk to the woman.  It seems she had seen a Golden Retriever a few nights ago and had just seen the poster.  We drove up and down Goose Hill Road, but we knew most everyone on the road and couldn't imagine they'd have found Penny and not called the Dog Warden.  "Let's drive through the center once more, maybe she's back at the store," I said.  I was keeping my eye out for a black pickup truck and there it was.  THERE IT WAS.  A black and silver pickup truck.  With Texas markers.  And there was a Golden Retriever in the back of the truck.
Wordlessly, I pulled up into the adjacent parking space.  I just sat there.  My mother and I looked at each other.  "That looks like..." she said.  "That IS," I answered.  I felt my heart beating faster as I got out of my car.  The dog recognized me and stood up.  "Hey there," I heard a voice with a southern accent behind me.  I turned around to see a man with a cowboy hat crossing the street, a young boy trailing behind him.

It was all so unreal -- and that's an understatement -- that I was at a loss for words, though I was filled with joy to see Penny again.  "Are you the one who's name's on that poster?" Mr. Cowboy Hat asked.  I nodded.  "She followed my kids up the road the other night," he said.  "Up Goose Hill.  We didn't know who she belonged to, we thought she might be a stray so we kept her.  We just saw the poster today."  Turns out the guy was renting a house you couldn't see from the road, down a long winding driveway.  "And what about the reward?" the boy asked.  "You never mind that," his father said.

I ran over to Herbworks and left a note on the door that Penny had been found.  Then I brought her to my mom's, a place she was very familiar with, and we gave her water and a biscuit from the stash my dad kept on hand for the neighbor's dog.  I called Gregg, but there was no answer so I figured they were on their way from New Britain.  We just waited.  We were absolutely flabbergasted.  Flummoxed.  And every other related adjective.  And Penny, after she got her water and treat, just sprawled out on the kitchen floor where it was cool, and there she lay when Gregg and Wendy burst through the door -- on a floor with the design of red tiles.

No comments:

Post a Comment