It was late November, and we still hadn’t seen a flake of snow. The kids were getting anxious to go outside, build snowmen, and have snowball fights. I tried my best to get them outdoors, despite the crisp air, but to no avail. The only family member who seemed to enjoy her romps in the dead, crunchy leaves was our eight-month-old Maltese puppy, Lady.
At last, we awoke one morning to find fluffy white flakes falling from the sky. My two kids immediately wanted to put their snow suits on and play in the snow. “Why don’t you wait until this afternoon, when there should be more snow on the ground?” I said.
They sulked, but didn’t argue. The snow fell heavily and, by the afternoon, several inches of the white stuff blanketed the ground. “Mommy, can we please go play outside now?” four-year-old Katy begged.
“Alright,” I relented. “Just make sure you wear a hat and gloves.”
Katy and her five-year-old brother, Johnny, happily bundled up in their winter gear. They waddled outside with Lady trailing behind. It was Lady’s first snow, and she seemed taken aback at the sight of the cold, white blanket on the ground. She tentatively placed one foot in front of another, slowly venturing into the snow.
It was about half her height, so with another few inches, Lady would have been buried by the snow. But she quickly got used to the coldness and, before long, she was rolling around like it was nothing new. “After Lady goes potty, send her back inside,” I told the kids. I didn’t want the small, six-pound pup to catch a chill.
I went back inside and curled up in the window seat to read a book. Every minute or so, I glanced up to make sure the kids were still in the yard. I quickly forgot about my command to send Lady back inside as I got into the story.
The kids played outside for a couple hours before they came back in, wet and red-nosed. “Mom, I’m cold,” Johnny told me.
“Come on, let’s get these wet suits off you kids,” I said. I helped them change into warm, dry clothes and we all sat down to have cups of hot chocolate. Suddenly my stomach sank.
“Where’s Lady?” I asked the kids.
“She wanted to stay outside,” Katy replied.
“Honey, Lady can’t stay outside by herself,” I told her. I was beginning to panic, but tried to hide it from the kids. Lady was probably half-frozen by now.
I ran to the door and called her name, but Lady didn’t come. Now I was really freaking out. When I told the kids to stay inside, Katy started to cry. “Mommy, I’m sorry. Please find Lady, please.”
“I’ll find her, Katy,” I said. I threw a jacket and some boots on, then ran out the door. I searched the yard, calling Lady’s name over and over. She didn’t come running. I had the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I had a feeling I wouldn’t find her alive.
I searched the neighborhood, but Lady was nowhere to be found, so I returned home, defeated. How would I tell the kids their dog was lost? My only hope was to call the local shelters and wait to hear if she had been found.
Johnny and Katy seemed depressed when they went to bed that night. “I’m sorry, guys. I’m sure Lady will find her way home,” I said without conviction. I gave them both hugs and kisses and turned off the light.
I went downstairs to clean up before bed. It was a silent night–there wasn’t a sound to be heard. It would have been peaceful, if only I wasn’t so worried about our little puppy.
Then I stopped in my tracks. No–it couldn’t be. Could it? I could have worn I heard a pitiful crying at the front door. I doubtfully made my way to the entryway and cracked the door open. I heard it again. It was a low crying, almost as if someone had left a baby on my doorstep.
I pulled the door open to find a small, white mop huddled at the door. “Lady!” I cried. I scooped her up into my arms and held her, sobbing. Lady buried her face under my arm, shivering uncontrollable. “Come on, sweetie, let’s find you a warm blanket and something to eat.”