Toaster nearly became toast. The small black dog, described by owner Joan McBride as a "black Lab with 3-inch legs," wandered away from...

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Toaster nearly became toast. The small black dog, described by owner Joan McBride as a “black Lab with 3-inch legs,” wandered away from his Houghton-neighborhood home last week. McBride was certain no one would rescue the 11-year-old family pet whose tag was engraved with an old telephone number.

“Toaster won’t make the cover of any dog-lover magazine. He is pigeon-toed, has the tail of a pig and the personality of a crotchety old man, but my family loves him,” said McBride, a member of the Kirkland City Council. The dog’s name comes from its resemblance to burnt toast, she said.

McBride drove around looking for him and then began making posters. Her son telephoned area veterinarians. Meanwhile, Toaster trotted about two miles to downtown Kirkland.

Deborah Taylor of Auburn coaxed the dog out of traffic on Lake Street. With the help of a store owner, she fashioned a temporary leash out of wire. Taylor took Toaster to Dooley’s Dog House, a nearby pet-supply store. The clerk there agreed to keep the dog but had no crate for the exhausted Toaster. Taylor walked to a dog-grooming salon, where the clerk was able to loan her a crate.

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By then, Taylor was more than an hour late for an appointment but still took time to heft the large crate — the only one available — back to Dooley’s. She gave the clerk her business card and said she would take the dog if he wasn’t claimed.

During the rescue operation, Sheila Cloney, a special-events coordinator for the city of Kirkland, stopped by Dooley’s. When Cloney returned to City Hall, she mentioned the little black runaway to Karen VanderHoek, another city employee. Just moments before, VanderHoek had talked to McBride, who was lamenting the loss of the family pet. The connection was made, and McBride dashed downtown to retrieve Toaster.

“We’re never letting that dog out of our sight again,” McBride said in her thank-yous to everyone involved in the rescue.

Backstage notes

Each time the imaginary Wells Fargo wagon brought band instruments, I was relieved.

If you recall, about 10 days ago I wrote about landing a teensy part in the Kirkland Performance Center’s (KPC) production of “The Music Man.” The musical had a four-performance run Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was my personal stage debut and great, great fun.

Chalk the idea up to Lani Brockman, founding director of Kirkland’s Studio East theatrical training center and production company. Brockman, a board member at KPC, stood up at a meeting last year and suggested they produce a show to showcase KPC.

It worked. All four shows sold out.

“It was great to sell out all four shows, a tribute to the community spirit generated by this project,” said Steve Lerian, KPC executive director. “We have sold out shows before, but this was one of the most successful projects at the box office that we have ever had.”

And a darned good show it was, too, thanks to the pros in our midst, including choreographer Joan Newlin, musical director Leigh Olson, producer Stephanie Hippen, costume designer Gregory Magyar and the terrific leads: actors Jon Lutyens of Seattle and Jenny Dreessen of Lynnwood.

The supporting actors were wonderful, the teen dancers incredible. The best part was how everyone volunteered the time and talent for this show. The budget, all of $1,000, went to rent the band uniforms.

But until you’ve been backstage during a big production, you have no idea of the organized mayhem and what it takes to get all 57 cast members on stage at the appropriate moments. Things were so crowded that dressing rooms were co-ed. (I may not remember all my roommates’ names, but I’ll never forget their skivvies.)

It will be weeks before the songs quit dancing through my brain. Particularly that Wells Fargo wagon number. Because that’s where my line was. When the ensemble sang about things the freight company delivered and things they wished for, my big line was “or dishes!”

I’m glad it was band instruments. I don’t have room in my cupboards for more dishes. But I do have lots of room in my heart for the wonderful memory of “The Music Man.”

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or