From his alarmed tone, I thought he'd just seen an accident happen in from of the store. I ran out after him to see what was going on and got outside just in time to see Polly dart into traffic to scoop up a tiny, bewildered, white puppy.
It had fur like a dandelion gone to seed and black, buggy eyes that stared beseechingly at us for help. We immediately took it in, gave it water, and tried to calm it down a little. It clung to Polly and shook.
Polly told me that he'd watched a car almost hit the puppy and swerve at the last second, which was why he bolted. The puppy was clean and immaculately groomed -- clearly a loved, indoor dog. There was no sign of an owner anywhere.
After a little while, I called the number on his tag -- his name was Puffball -- and left a message on the answering machine with our address and number. I offered to take him home if no one came to claim him by 7pm, and top keep trying to contact the owner. Once puffball was feeling better, we asked the very nice girls at the tanning salon to watch him for a little while, since puppies and cheese don't mix.
About an hour later, Just as Polly was getting ready to leave, a man walked into the store. He had at least a foot and a hundred pounds on me, and was wearing the steel-toed boots and orange vest of a construction worker. He was livid; his eyes were a little red, as though he'd been crying or was furious, or both.
He strode up to the counter, took a deep breath, and said in a quavering voice: "I think you have my dog?"
I assured him we did, that Puffball was fine, and took him next door to be reunited.
As soon as we walked in the tanning salon and Puffball caught sight of his daddy, the puppy freaked out. The big guy dropped onto both knees. His voice broke as he yelled "Puffy!" and the little dog dove at him. They kissed each other for several minutes.
Finally, the man stood up, cradling the puppy in one hand. He thanked us repeatedly, his voice hoarse.
I suddenly noticed that his knuckles were bleeding. I asked him if he needed a bandage.
He seemed confused, then followed my line of sight. His face hardened a little.
"Nah, it's fine. I just had a little conversation with my roommate about what to do when Puffy barks and I'm not home in the future." He kissed the puppy again. "Puffy is NOT an outdoor dog."
And he was gone.
Do not mess with Puffball's daddy.