The puppy’s name was Vigor. Bob’s neighbor pronounced it Vie-gor which sounded more like a superhero than a puppy, but in fact, Bob decided later, his neighbor was right.
It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously. Bob had meant to prune that oak out front but the wind got to it first. A huge branch broke, falling across the electrical cable to the house. The cable pulled free, snapping and spitting , writhing in the driveway out in front of the house.
Vigor was inside, running from window to window, upstairs and down, whining and barking, growing more frantic in the darkened house. Bob and his wife, enjoying a date night, were blissfully unaware of it all as they were transported by Moonlight, the movie they’d chosen to see after a quick dinner downtown.
Little did they know that at about the same time as the protagonist of the film is transformed by heartbreaking events, the live electrical cable outside their house had found purchase in a box of kindling they kept on their porch, next to the firewood. Sparks smoldered and brightened, died down and picked up again as if deciding whether to go forward with the plan. Suddenly a splinter of kindling caught fire and a flame wavered boldly in the wind.
Vigor was riveted. If Bob and his wife had been there, they would have been impressed with his focus and attentiveness. Perhaps. At any rate, they most assuredly would have been impressed by the northwest corner of their house which was lit up with orange white light, shadows dancing, kindling crackling with fire.
The neighbor, the one who called the puppy Vie-gor, saw the situation and called 911. From his porch, he could hear sirens in the distance, devising a plan for what he might do if the fire jumped to his house in a gust of wind. The chance of this small blaze blossoming into a multi-house consuming inferno was not high, but still, the neighbor liked to be prepared.
And here’s where Vigor proves himself. The puppy ran to his doggie bed and grabbed his much beloved velveteen rabbit doll, floppy eared, loose limbed, low on stuffing but all the more charming for it. That rabbit was his friend. That rabbit was his family. Vigor did not begin or end a day without that rabbit at his side.
Vigor grabbed his friend and ran upstairs, jumping out the only window in the house that was open, landing on the peak of the pitched roof over the front door, slipping down the shingles to the gutter and catching himself, his friend safely in tow, floppy ear in mouth. He teetered on the gutter, his little puppy nails clattering at the aluminum, finally losing his balance and falling, a jumble of legs and ears landing on the hedge of periwinkle below. The sirens were closer now and the neighbor, who had seen Vigor’s heroic escape, ran to the house.
He called for the dog but there was nothing but the sound of the fire engines and the crackling fire. He called again and then heard a rustle of leaves. Tumbling out of the hedge came Vigor and his rabbit. The neighbor scooped them up and carried them to safety.
Then he called Bob and his wife to let them know what had happened and that Vie-gor was a hero.