Hooray! He's staying!
Yes, our little foundling is now a permanent member of our family. One week ago, it became official although I was quite nervous at the time.
Long-story-short…six days after I found the little guy and had done my due diligence, the owners called. ACK! When I asked the father of the two boys why it took him nearly a week to call, he nonchalantly said "oh, he runs away all the time." Apparently, the man has two young boys and they are currently living with his mother; they got the dog from a friend of a friend a while back but the boys couldn't remember to shut doors and gates. Plus, the dog is not neutered which most people know contributes to the strong desire to roam. The man said he had told the boys how dangerous it was for the dog to get out, but they're kids and couldn't remember to keep the dog safe inside. I mentioned again how I'd been caring for the little guy for the week, and agreed with how dangerous running loose in the streets was. The man said, "You got attached, didn't you?" I agreed, my throat tight. Anyway, he said, "let me talk with the boys." Fifteen minutes later, while I was in tears at the thought of having to return this adorable dog that had already stolen my heart, the owner called back and said that the boys wanted the dog safe, so they agreed that I could keep him! All the boys wanted was to be able to meet me and say goodbye to the dog. We met at a local park where I reassured the boys that I would have the dog neutered and keep the little guy safe. The boys--about 9 and 10, I'd guess--were very calm, really. I was surprised, but my impression was that while they "owned" the dog, they weren't that attached to him.
So…YAY! Not only do I get to keep Widget (his proper full name is Widget The Magic Bean) as a wonderful companion, but I also don't have to worry about mysterious owners someday showing up and trying to take him away.
He has settled into our home beautifully, and has very few habits that need to be reformed. One habit is that he's not very well house-trained so if I can't watch him like a hawk, we're using the "umbilical" method (i.e. his leash is attached to my waist, which is a training technique I learned a couple puppies ago) or he's in the ex-pen with some chew-toys. He and Phoenix play extremely well together, while Pooka (the old guy at 14) pretty much just ignores Widget. Which is a huge relief because I didn't want for Pooka to be stressed out by a new addition. Widget and I visited the vet last Friday for an exam, and he is scheduled to be neutered during Spring Break.
Happiness all around! Woohoo!