The glimpse of an animal darting about in the far reaches of my garage set my senses on alert. Living near the edge of timber and prairie has a way of keeping one on his toes when it comes to sharing living space with wildlife.

As I cautiously approached the huddled black ball of fur I tried to prepare myself for the confrontation that would soon take place. Will it run or turn and charge? No way to know. It was all but trapped in the corner so its options were limited.

The creature slowly turned to face me. A shaggy black dog peered back at me through shinny dark eyes. Its tail began to wag and an unmistakably friendly personality quickly emerged. My uneasiness disappeared as I reached out and petted her.

I called to my wife, Sharon, to come see our visitor. The two of them quickly bonded. We had a guest … at least for that evening.

We soon decided the dog was too friendly and well groomed to be a stray. A red collar substantiated that theory. Problem was, it contained no form of identification.

Figuring the dog wondered onto our property from nearby, we called neighbors and posted "found" signs about town the next day. We also contacted Story County Animal Shelter in hopes of finding the dog’s family. All to no avail.

Just days away from a planned three week trip, we decided to deliver our new friend to the shelter in hopes that someone would claim her or she would be adopted.

Soon after our arrival back home we called the shelter. No, no one had claimed her and no one had expressed an interest in adoption. Not the news we wanted to hear.

The staff at the shelter proved to be very helpful. They had detected the dog suffered trauma sometime in her life. A veterinarian was still treating her for problems caused by that trauma. It was going to make necessary an extended treatment timetable.

After a week or so of soul searching we agreed it was time for us to take on a new dependent. Not exactly what we had planned to do, but no way were we going to turn our backs on such a loving creature.

Well, Minnie (her new name) became part of the family. In fact, she ruled the roost. A new daily schedule was incorporated at the Rood residence.

As the days past we noticed Minnie was having increasing trouble with her bodily functions. One recent day her problems became so severe we took her to a veterinarian.

She kept Minnie overnight. The next day we received the terrible news that Minnie had advanced cancer and should be put down.

Minnie was with us about a month. She had brought joy and happiness into our home and proved to be a wonderful guest. We miss her dearly.

(Ed Rood is former publisher of the Tri-County Times and an avid writer and photographer. He lives in rural Cambridge with his wife Sharon.)