Two years later Rufus died and Phil got a puppy of his own who I swore possessed the spirit of Rufus. The dog seemed to recognize me from a former life, and the three of us bonded over Milk-Bones. I made sure to always have some treats in my pocket for Biscuit--that's the dog. Approaching their house on my daily walk, I would often see Phil run up the front steps and let Biscuit out to greet me. We'd chat about this and that for about ten minutes and I would continue on. Sometimes I'd leave dog treats in the mailbox when I passed by and the house was dark. It was all quite Mayberry-ish.
Then a few months ago--abruptly--things changed. Coming around the corner these days, I can see Phil scurry away whenever he sees me approaching. He'll grab the dog and go inside, or duck into the garage, or the two of them will run up into the woods behind the house, obviously avoiding me. I have no idea why and would never dare ask--that's just not done around here. And while it doesn't really matter, still it's sad, because I bet that dog misses me.