My daughter and I slip into the welcome center just minutes before closing time. We’ve driven my son back to school in Mississippi, and this is the final state line to cross on our journey home.

As we race back to the car, I giggle like a child, focused more on getting out of the biting wind than looking like an adult. We drive past the last parking spaces and picnic tables and spot a little brown dog, red collar around his neck, watching us go.

I stop, back up, and pull into the last space as my daughter gets out and goes to help him, but the little guy races away from her and across the lawn. We drive toward the exit and see that his path crossed the truck exit ramp. I pull over and my daughter follows him again, but this time he runs deep into the woods, afraid, though we mean him no harm.

Surely the owners are near. Maybe the dog slipped out when they opened the car door and they don’t realize he’s gone? No cars wait behind us, so I put mine in reverse and drive back to the welcome center.

I tell two DOT employees about the dog, but they direct me to the the lady emerging from the gift shop, keys in hand, locking the doors at the end of the day. Yes, she knows about the dog. She placed blankets outside for him tonight.

Because he’s been there for two days. Two days.

Please visit me today at (in)courage for the rest of the story!

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