All of the Furry Residents of Shakes Manor were happy to see me after I returned from my four-day absence, which was nice. It is nice to be welcomed home! (That's exactly the sort of insightful observation for which you read Shakesville, right? RIGHT!) But no one was happier to see me than Zelly.
I want to note that Zelly was not miserable without me. She was her usual happy self. And that's what I want. I don't want my pets to be so attached to me that they are unhappy without me.
But Zelly, who is unique among our pets in having had a previous owner (except Dudley, whose life on the track was not a home environment like ours), understands the feeling of losing a person. We don't how she came to be a stray, but she is so loyal I cannot image that she would leave of her own volition unless she was being hurt, and probably not even then. She was probably dumped. She probably knows what it's like to not have someone come back for her.
When I came home, I poked my head around the doorway and said, "Where's the good girl?" Her face lit up; it always lights up, but this was special. She ran in joyful circles and leaped at me breathlessly and licked my face. She didn't even run to get a toy, the way she usually does when I'm gone for only a few hours. She just looked at me with a huge grin, like she almost couldn't believe I was there again.
Dogs, we're told, aren't supposed to remember. And I'm sure they don't remember in the same way we do. But they carry their experiences with them. She's learned that giving me a high-five will get her a treat or a snuggle. Just as assuredly, she learned that sometimes people disappear.
And now she's learned that sometimes they come back.