I was working in my yard when a van stopped on the road in front of our house. It’s not unusual for cars to stop there and use our driveway to turn around. The house numbering on our street is strange. Not only do addresses switch from east to west in the middle between the two end roads, but the even and odd numbers switch sides of the road. Our address is the best-marked one, and we have a big driveway, so it makes a good turnaround spot.

But this van was different. I only glanced up when they stopped and then went about my work, but then the van sped away quickly when it left. That caused me to look up, and when I did, I saw a dog standing there.

It’s common for people to drop their unwanted pets off in the country for others to deal with them. We have had it happen many times. We have often tried to take care of the animals and worked to find a loving home for them. A few times, we have adopted the animals ourselves, but we couldn’t afford to do that for all of them.

This dog looked like it was mostly an Australian Shepherd. It looked confused and lost, and I wondered what it would do.

It was midmorning when the dog was dropped off, and it just lay down on the edge of the road, seemingly waiting for its owner to return. The dog was on the road far enough that cars had to move over to miss it. Each time one came, it would get up and stare intently at the vehicle as if looking to see if its owner was among those in it. But the sad thing was, I knew the owner had no intention of returning.

As it got to be evening, I thought the dog might be hungry. I thought I would take it some food, but I didn’t get within thirty yards of it before it ran away. Others stopped and also tried to feed it or coax it to their home where they could help it, but it was only looking for those it knew and always ran off.

Someone called an animal shelter, and two of the staff tried to catch the dog, but it ran away and disappeared across the edge of the pasture a couple hundred yards away. But shortly after they left, it was back lying in the same spot, waiting for the people it knew.

My wife posted online about the dog, hoping the owner would know how much they were missed and would feel guilty. Instead, more people came, trying to help, only to have the dog run away. As days went by, I worried about it. I knew it had to be hungry. I also thought about how it responded to everyone. As much as it feared people, I doubted it was treated kindly at home, yet it was still loyal to those it knew and loved.

Eventually, a county animal control officer came and tranquilized the dog. It was taken to a shelter and fed. It started to trust people a little and was eventually put up for adoption. Its story had become widely known because of online posts, and a nice family, with children excited to love it, took it home. But it didn’t stay long, and the family soon posted online that the dog was missing.

Looking out on the road by our property, I saw it was back in its place, waiting for its original owners. I just watched it because I didn’t want to post about it and have half the county back again. I thought I’d try to directly message the family about the dog if it stayed too long. But after an hour or two, the dog disappeared without anyone chasing it away. The family then let everyone know it had returned.

It never ran away from them again. Maybe it wanted to give its previous owner one last chance, but it finally realized that they were never coming back. Perhaps it sensed it had an opportunity to love another family and be loved in return.

And I was happy to know that the dog’s deep loyalty could now be trusted to those who would honor it.