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When Poochy Went Missing

At 11 years old, I learned that with a little hope and faith, God’s love will show up just when you need it.

Hope and faith and God's love when dog goes missing

Two miles separated my house from Carver’s General Store, but I didn’t mind the trip when Poochy was with me.

I pedaled my J.C. Higgins bike down Graham Road. Poochy always ran right alongside me, round velvety ears flapping, pink tongue hanging out. Poochy was my best friend that summer in the 1940s. My only friend. I was 11.

Dad lived in a mental hospital 50 miles away. Mom worked long hours and didn’t make enough for someone to babysit me. I was on my own. Mom always said God was with me, but I sure couldn’t feel it. My nighttime prayers seemed to go nowhere.

I figured God had more important things to do than listen to me. Not like Poochy, who never left my side.

Poochy slept at the foot of my bed. We roamed the woods behind our house together. He stood lookout while I raided my neighbor’s cherry tree, and lay beside me as I read mysteries under the old apple tree.

I pedaled up to Carver’s and leaned my bike against the side. “You wait here, Poochy, while I get us some ice cream.”

Poochy wagged his feathery tail. I always shared my vanilla cup with him.

In the store Mr. Carver was slicing meat for a customer. I’d have to wait. I glanced out the window for a sight of Poochy’s black-and-tan head and remembered the spring morning two years before when I’d first found him in Mom’s flower garden. Just a scruffy Cocker-Spaniel-sized dog with big brown eyes and floppy ears lying in the purple tulips. “You look hungry,” I’d said.

Poochy had thumped his tail and looked up at me sadly. I climbed into the flowers and sat beside him. His hair was matted and his paws were sore. He looked just as lonely as I was.

When Mom got home from work I begged her to let me keep him. “You know I don’t have time to take care of a dog, Judy,” Mom said.

“I’ll take care of him all by myself. I promise!” I told her.

Mom looked doubtfully at the mutt at my side. Poochy offered her his paw. Mom didn’t stand a chance. She dropped to her knees and shook the paw. “I guess you’re old enough to take care of a dog,” she said. “But he’s going to need a collar.” Mom drove me to Woolworth on Front Street and let me pick out a bright red collar from the sale rack.

“You’re really mine now, Poochy,” I said as I fastened the collar on him. “That’s what I’m going to call you.”

Poochy thumped his tail happily.

I could just imagine him thumping his tail right now as he waited for his ice cream. I quickly paid for my cup and hurried out to the front steps.
But Poochy wasn’t there.

“Poochy?” I called. “Poochy! Here, boy! Where’d you go?”

There was no answer. He probably just wandered away, I thought, but fear squeezed my heart. I dropped my ice cream. “Poochy!” I ran to the middle of Graham Road and looked both ways. I checked the wooded area and creek around back of the store. No Poochy.

He went home, I thought. He must have gone home.

I jumped on my bike and pedaled as fast as I could, searching for Poochy through tear-blurred eyes. But Poochy wasn’t waiting when I got home. I called his name over and over, but no happy bark called back in response.

I dialed Mom at work. “He might have run off after a squirrel,” she said when I managed to choke out the story. “If he’s not home tonight we’ll make up a notice. Why don’t you ride back to the store and see if Mr. Carver’s seen him?”

I sped back to the store and burst through the front door. “Have you seen my dog?” I blurted out to Mr. Carver.

“No, Judy, I haven’t,” he said.

I stumbled outside and collapsed on the front steps crying.

“What’s wrong?” A woman in a blue dress smiled kindly down at me.

“I lost my dog.”

“Have you looked hard for him?”

“I looked everywhere!” I cried. “He’s brown and black and has a red collar. I don’t know what to do.”

“Have you asked God to help you find him?” the woman in blue asked.

I wiped the tears off my cheeks with the back of my hand. “God’s too busy to look for my dog.”

“God cares about all his creatures,” the lady said. “He cares about you and your dog. His love has no limit. Why don’t you talk to him?”

The lady went down the steps to her car and drove away. I wasn’t sure I should believe her about God’s love, but I had no one else to turn to.
I bowed my head like Mom taught me. “God, please bring Poochy back to me. I miss him so much.”

Once I started talking to God, I couldn’t stop. I told him how lonely I was. Somehow it seemed like my prayers were going straight to God’s ear, like he was really listening, as if he were sitting right there with me on the steps of Carver’s General Store.

I pedaled home and sat in the swing under the apple tree, waiting for Mom. I heard a car in the driveway and ran around to the front.

It wasn’t Mom. It was a car I’d never seen before. A man got out, walked around to the passenger side and opened the door. Something furry jumped out and hurtled toward me.

“Poochy!” I threw my arms around him. Poochy thumped his tail. “Hey, Mister, where did you find my dog?”

The stranger hung his head sheepishly. “I took him from outside Carver’s store. Had him tied to a tree in my yard when some lady came to my door. She gave me a hard time. Said he belonged to a little girl. She made me feel bad so I drove back to Carver’s store. He told me where you lived.”

“The lady who talked to you,” I said. “Was she wearing a blue dress?”

“Yeah,” the man answered. “You know that lady?”

I shook my head.

The man ducked back into his car. “Sorry about your dog,” he muttered.

I watched the man drive away, hugging Poochy in my arms. I had my friend with me again. I also had God, right there beside me. Thanks to an angel in blue who told me exactly how to find them both.

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