Anyway, I was just off the pier, and he was sniffing at some foliage at the rear of the B & B directly across from the pier, and when I turned around, he was one. I thought, well, he can't go far in ten seconds. I looked right and left, checked the beach, walked around the B & B and looked down the sidewalk of the main drag, called out his name, but there was no sign of him. His hearing is not good. I scoped the beach, ventured to both parking lots on either side of the pier. No Wilbur. I walked both sides of the main drag as it started to rain. Almost all doors of businesses were closed because of the rain and cold. I asked a local named Patrick if he'd seen Wilbur. He lit up a cigarette and said he'd just stepped out of Skipper's Diner and had not.
I was getting nervous. I was starting to panic. I went to my car and drove the four blocks to my apartment to see if he'd headed there, realizing he is not the brightest dog, though he is sly, and sneaky. I called my female companion, Miranda, and told her about how it had been almost half an hour and there was no sign of Wilbur. Would somebody adopt him? And fall for his “poor lost needy me” act? He knows how to seduce, but he is almost 13 years old. Who would want him with his white eyebrows and snout? Well, he has a way of making people feel sorry for him. He's an expert at this, the best I've seen among dogs, who are experts at charming humans. Maybe somebody looked at him and felt he was abandoned and decided to adopt him.
Cayucos is basically dog-town, and full of compassionate dog lovers. Almost all of it\our motels take dogs because dogs are permitted on our beaches to run free.
I drove slowly up and down the streets on my grid. No sign of Wilbur. I returned to the area where he disappeared and parked. I asked a few people if they'd seen a brown Lab. Nope. I slipped into the hallway that leads from the road along the seawall to the main drag, below the Schooner's Wharf restaurant/bar and spotted Wilbur following Patrick on the sidewalk. I yelled his name. Both stopped. Patrick said Wilbur was walking up and down the street looking for me. The dog came right over and he was dry while I was soaked. He was not as relived to see me as I was him, In fact, he was skulking.
“You asshole,” I muttered. “You deserted me. I've been worried sick.”
He was also hanging his head, appearing guilty, like he did when I caught him savaging my trash can for food or trying to climb onto my sofa. Back home, at dinner time, he didn't nudge me or pace around in anticipation of his evening meal. He was on his pallet, and he was moping. He wouldn't look at me. I started my own dinner, which always arouses him to pad into the kitchen, tail wagging, standing by his bowl, the time I feed him. He didn't come. I called his name. He ambled in, still not looking at me, head down, body slumped.
“You managed to push your way into the Cayucos Coffe house, didn't you. You charmed the coffee drinkers and somebody fed you, didn't they, you scavenger.”
He wouldn't look up. I poured out his kibble. He did me a favor and ate it. When I ate, instead of hanging around to beg scraps, as usual, he went to his pallet and continued his moping.
This morning I took him back downtown and let him roam the beach. He took a dump and the another and then another, huge dumps. He never takes more than one in the morning.
“You were in that coffee house eating God knows what,” I told him. “You probably went around the counter and back to where they cook and they might have made you some eggs and ham. You were the main attraction, getting all that attention, getting petted and fed, everybody in there fawning over you and you were having a big time while I ran around in the rain in a fucking panic fretting over your ungrateful ass.”
He was no longer moping, back to his old self, nudging up to humans along the seawall and shoving his snoot against their pockets in hope of discovering biscuits.
“He's so cute,” one woman said. “Just adorable. What's his name?”
She burst out laughing. “Perfect,” she said.