We pulled over, got out. We checked the shepherd but he was gone. We picked him up carefully and moved him to a soft place beside a tree, taking a moment with him. The doberman followed. These were the days of pay phones. Neither dog had a tag so we called animal control to come for him and guided her to come with us.
I snuck the doberman into my bedroom. The hours were too small to wake anybody up for discussion, so I made her soft place on the floor and brought her some water and food. As I got into bed, my whispers to lie down did not take effect. She paced then rested her chin on the edge of the mattress. This was a time when dobermans were deemed the breed to be leery of. The lore was they could turn hostile in an instant. But she'd taken a chance on trusting me so an "okay!" and she was up, rolled onto her back and nestled into me. This must have been how they slept every night, she and her mate and their human.
In the morning when we got up, my parents already knew she was there. How long had they known? Was it their habit to make sure I was home alive after I'd stayed out late? It occurred to me I'd never thought about that before. My dad sat in his chair drinking coffee, the doberman sat a few feet in front him ears back, eyes steady, listening as he tried to explain to me, or to the dog, that since we already had three dogs, four would be too many. It looked like the doberman had the situation under control, so I went to the kitchen for coffee. I could feel my parents' discussion though I couldn't actually hear it. It may have been one of those wordless ones.
When I came back into the room my dad said, "If we can't find her person, she'll have a home with us."
He took her to the animal shelter to give her a chance of being found. I called the shelter an hour after they'd left the house. Her human had already come and taken her home. The man at the shelter said the owner was there first thing in the morning saying his doberman and German shepherd had gotten out through an open gate the night before and that he'd looked for them in the night. I hung up the phone comforted that the the dog and the man still had each other. Then I drove back to the intersection to make sure the shepherd was not there.
The sunny shiny morning was slightly too bright as if the rain storm had washed the streets a glaring white. The shepherd was gone; it seemed nothing had happened there at all. But some thirty years later I still see that moment we rounded the corner. I see the posture and expression of the doberman beside her shepherd under the dull streetlight, watching, waiting in love and trust.