When she woke up that summer morning, Emma had planned to spend the day at the pool, but that all changed while she was sitting at her kitchen table eating breakfast. She glanced out the door to the patio and noticed a sad looking beagle puppy sitting on her deck.
“Mom!” She called, “There’s a puppy outside!”
Her mom came out of her home office and looked out the sliding door. “Poor thing doesn’t have a collar. She might be a stray.”
“Can we take care of her? Keep her?” Emma watched the tangle of white, black, and brown fur and her heart filled with longing.
“Oh, Emma, I don’t know,” her mother said. “First of all, she might not be a stray, she might have just snuck out of the house before getting dressed today. And besides, our house isn’t puppy-proofed and for all I know she might have fleas. She is cute, but I don’t think it is a good idea.”
“Oh hunny, I don’t think so, but I’ll tell you what. We’ll try to help. Why don’t we start by giving her a bowl of water?” Emma’s mom grabbed a bowl from their cabinets and handed it to her to fill with water. “Let me go outside first. I need to make sure the puppy is friendly.”
Emma watched her mother take the water bowl outside and the scared puppy cringing away from her, but her mother continued to speak soothingly and backed away from the bowl, and eventually the puppy came forward and lapped tentatively at the water.
“What can I do?” Emma asked?
“Get a piece of bread and put peanut butter on it,” her mom said, “then we can tear it into pieces and let her eat it.”
Emma did and soon she was watching a much happier puppy gamboling around their deck. When she asked again if they could keep her, her mother said they needed to see if she belonged to one of their neighbors and had simply gotten out of the house. Her mother found a piece of rope in the garage and turned it into an improvised collar and lease.
“I’m going to go inside and create lost dog posters with her picture and our number on it in case she does have a home.” Her mother snapped a picture of the puppy and proceeded inside.
“Do you have a home?” Emma asked the puppy. On one hand she wanted her to be happy and have a home, but on the other, she wanted them to have the same home, wanted to play ball with her and take her for walks. It was lonesome being an only child and Emma had always wanted a puppy.She secretly hoped this was her dream coming true.
Wanting to play with her, Emma went into the garage and found a tennis ball. She rolled it to her and the first few times, the puppy watched it warily. But eventually she pounced on the ball and Emma giggled delightedly.
“I think I am going to call you Sadie,’ Emma said decidedly. “That is, unless you have another name. Do you?”
It was then that her mother reemerged with a pile of papers. “Let’s take her for a walk around the neighborhood and put up posters to see if she is lost - try to get her back to her home if she is.”
They walked around the neighborhood, waving hello and stopping to talk to the neighbors they knew, but no one knew Sadie. They searched until storm clouds had gathered on the horizon and they had to head for home.
They reached their garage as the first rumble of thunder shook the sky. “Mom, we have to take her in. We can’t leave her out on the deck in a thunderstorm.”
Her mom looked undecided. “The house isn’t safe. We have things all over that she could hurt and that could hurt her.”
“Please, mom? I’ll make it safe!”
Her mom looked unconvinced, but the next rumble of thunder decided her. “Okay, she can go in the laundry room for the night. We can get the baby gate out of the basement to block her in.”
Her mom went down to the basement to find the gate and Emma pet Sadie, introducing her to her new home and folding a spare towel to be a bed for her on the floor.
“You know you don’t get to keep her unless we cannot find her owners,” her mother warned, setting the gate in place.
“Okay, you puppy-proof the downstairs and I will run to the store and buy a few things we will need to take care of her in the interim.
Emma tried to pick up everything the puppy might try to chew on. She had never liked cleaning, and kept getting drawn by the sad puppy whimpering in the laundry room. She kept going over and talking to her, trying to calm her down and make her feel safe and loved. The thunderstorm raged overhead, the rain hitting the windows while Emma pet her newfound friend and tried to make her feel safe and welcome. But Emma also did her best to make the house safe for Sadie and when her mom came home, she was impressed.
“Emma, you did a very good job,” her mom admitted. “And while I was out, I got a call from Maggie saying that she thinks the puppy is a stray and that she has seen her wandering around the neighborhood for a week or so.”
“So can we keep Sadie?”
“Is that what we are going to call her?” mom asked. “We shall see. I set up an appointment at a vet for tomorrow. We will make sure she doesn’t have a chip in her and if she really is a stray, we will get her the care she deserves.”
“And she’ll stay?!”
“If she needs a home, she has found it,” her mom said, petting Sadie.
“Oh, thank you mom!”