Presently, an older man dressed in jeans and a faded print work shirt emerged. He introduced himself as the veterinarian. “Looks like you’ve found a very special dog there, Officer. I hate to tell you this, but he doesn’t belong to just one person. He belongs to the U.S. Government.”
Michael glanced up to see her puzzled expression. “I-I don’t understand,” Sonia stuttered. Her face was pale, and he wondered what she might be thinking.
“Here.” The vet held out a sheet of paper. “I printed out a copy of the scan. You can see for yourself. It says right there, ‘Michael Masson, Special Ops, United States Marines,’ and there’s two sets of numbers. This isn’t an ordinary dog, Officer. This dog is, or was, a part of a special ops unit in the Marines. An ordinary microchip would just contain one registry number, and we’d have to call into the registry databank to obtain contact information.”
“But Slash has a name encoded, and two numbers,” she noted. “Is Michael Masson his name? Or the name of the owner?”
Dr. Beckel shook his head. “I have no idea.”
“What do those numbers mean?”
The vet shrugged. “Again, I have no idea. You’re going to have to report this dog to the government and see what they have to say.” The man leaned over and scratched Michael behind the ears. “Bet you’re a well-trained fella, too, aren’t you?”
Sonia managed a weak laugh. “That’s an understatement if I ever heard one.”
“Well, good news is that you now have an idea of where to search for his owner. Better news is this big boy is probably current with his shots, although I can’t guarantee that. So that’s one less thing to worry about.”
“Rabies. It totally slipped my mind.”
The vet appeared concerned. “Has he bitten anyone?”
“Yes. He took down a dangerous suspect the other day. It just never occurred to me he might have rabies.”
Dr. Beckel took Michael’s head between his hands and examined his eyes and teeth. The man was gentle and knew what he was doing. Neither was he afraid of Michael retaliating. When the man was done there, he checked Michael’s coat and nails. “This dog’s paws show evidence of being on the street for some time. You might want to treat him for fleas, even though I don’t see any. But, for the most part, he appears healthy.”
“Any idea how old he might be?” Sonia inquired.
“Mmm, this is purely a guess on my part, but judging from his teeth I’d say he’s three, maybe four years old.”
Right on, Doc. I’m twenty-eight.
“He’s a beautiful animal,” the man praised.
“I guess I need to report him to the government, then,” Sonia commented in a voice filled with sadness.
“I would if I were you. If he’s as well-trained as you say he is, he could also be someone’s service dog. You never know.”
This possibility appeared to dampen her spirits even more. To the point where the vet noticed. “I take it you’ve taken a shine to the animal, huh?”
She managed a weak grin. “Yeah. He’s grown on me. He’s saved my life twice, and I was kind of hoping I could adopt him.”