My nine year old daughter has quite a collection of stuffed dogs. So many dogs, that for Christmas we bought her a REAL dog bed to put in her room. There are Shepherds, Collies, Poodles, Terriers, Huskies, and Bulldogs…just to name a few. The collection is so big that we’ve lost count. But, there is one…just one…that holds a special place in my daughter’s heart. One little dog so dirty and tattered that it’s almost unrecognizable. Her name is Darling, and I think she was a Beagle in her previous life at the Hallmark store.
Sometime in November, when we were cleaning out toy boxes and organizing rooms to make space for Santa’s bounty, Darling got lost. We looked everywhere for her. Furniture was moved, closets were emptied, and toy boxes were thoroughly searched. I had come to the conclusion that my five year old son had probably thrown Darling into a Goodwill bag, but I didn’t dare tell my daughter that.
Last night, just before I tucked her into bed, we made another attempt to locate Darling. We looked under my daughter’s dresser and behind her desk, and I finally told her that I was afraid we had shipped Darling off to Goodwill. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, “NOOOO!” I told her that I just didn’t know where else that dog could be.
Then I asked her if she had ever looked in my room. She and my son watch TV in there sometimes, and I told her it was possible that her ornery little brother could’ve thrown Darling under my bed. So we looked among the shoe boxes, stored-up summer clothes and dust bunnies, but with no luck. Then I looked behind my bed…and, THERE SHE WAS. Lodged between a windowsill and my headboard, crumpled up and barely visible.
When I said, “I found her!”, my little girl dropped the clothes she had been holding and ran over and grabbed her dog. And the tears which had been welling up, freely flowed down her cheeks. She was blubbering with joy, and I was so happy for her that I started crying. A grown woman, crying about a filthy, stuffed dog with spots of fur that are hardened with what is most likely syrup. I never would’ve thought that I’d be happy to see Darling too.