Most of our Sunday had come and gone. It was a leisurely one for a change, the way God intended it, our day of rest. We had attended church that morning, come home and had a simple lunch, and then retreated to different parts of the house to rest. Joshua, our two year old son, and Holly, our three year old daughter, were taking their naps. Hannah and Bradley were watching an old Shirley Temple movie, Heidi, that I had checked out from the library. I took advantage of this calm time and settled in for an afternoon nap, which was rare for me. I knew that I should get some rest, as we were on the verge of having our ninth child, Olivia, at any moment.
A couple of hours passed, and I woke up and strolled down the stairs to make some late afternoon coffee. The kids were still asleep and in TV land, and Katrina had retreated to the hot tub. It had been unseasonably warm all weekend, especially for the second day of March, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I poured myself a cup of coffee and went out on the porch, taking in the view overlooking the valley. I was in my happy place without a care in the world.
A scream of terror penetrated our exterior walls and entered my ear canal as I finished my cup of coffee. I sauntered through the front door to see what the noise was all about, but I was too late, as Katrina had already made the ultimate sacrifice, left her hot tub, and rescued Joshua. He had awakened from his nap and somehow locked himself in his room trying to turn the doorknob. I was thrilled that she was in control of the situation, which gave me the green light to head to the kitchen and pour my usual second cup of coffee.
As the evening rolled on, we cooked hamburgers and hot dogs along with tator tots and fries, and enjoyed our greasy cuisine. It’s hard to beat a good greasy hamburger with melted cheddar dripping off of it. I’m getting fatter just remembering it. After dinner, I went upstairs to the master bedroom, sat down at my desk, and began sifting through some bills and papers that I should have already taken care of earlier in the weekend.
Off in the distance, somewhere else in the house, I could hear Katrina talking on the phone, and the kids screaming and playing. I was engrossed in planning my week, making to-do lists, and reading mail that needed reading. It all came to an abrupt stop when they all entered my utopia.
This was one of those moments that they would put in slow motion on TV. I could see Katrina first, coming through the door to our bedroom, carrying some sort of white fluff under her arm. “What was that?” I wondered to myself. As she and her four little minions came through the door, I could tell they all had something up their sleeves. Then I saw it move! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! It was a dog! This was not just any old dog. I was quickly informed that it was a soft, cuddly, cute dog, and was just the one Katrina and the kids had been wanting, minus the dirty fur. And by the way, we HAD planned on getting a dog this spring, remember? They had backed me into a corner, all five, make that six, of them, counting the dog. I was done for.
I immediately did what any good father would do. I got that “we have to get rid of that thing” look on my face, while scrambling for phone numbers of neighbors who may know where this mutt belonged. After making a phone call to one neighbor, then going door to door to a couple more, we learned that this dog had been lurking all day near our neighbor’s down the street, and that it was her opinion, as well as ours, that this vagrant had probably been dumped off by someone.
The dog appeared to be a Pekingese type of breed, and after quick observation, looked as though she had given birth very recently. There was no sign of any puppies, though. This little white dog could, however, have been mistaken for a small milk cow, as a great deal of engorgement was already underway on her underbelly.
Much to my disgust, Katrina and the kids had already taken the intruder to the laundry room and began rounding up things to give her a proper bath. You would have thought the Super Bowl was going on in our laundry room as the crowd gathered around the utility sink. Bradley climbed up and stood on the washer for a bird’s eye view. What a show!
Katrina scrubbed and scrubbed, and the dog, as predicted by me of course, slung water all over the audience. They didn’t care. Somewhere along the way I had failed as a parent to teach my kids that dog drippings were disgusting. Maybe someday they’ll be enlightened like me. As the bath time drew to a close, I tried my best to stay one step ahead of this indoor car wash. I arrived with an old towel, just in time to head Bradley off at the pass, as he had already made his way to the bathroom to retrieve one of our good towels.
Katrina dried the dog off, and then went off to find the dog brush we had in the garage while the dog wandered around our dining room floor in search of crumbs. While I was grateful for the fact that the dog was cleaning the floor, I couldn’t help but cringe at the idea of having a dog running around in the house. Naturally, I went outside to make arrangements for the dog to sleep outside in the pen we had out back. It was the least I could do.
When I came back in, Bradley sat in one of our dining room chairs holding the dog as Katrina brushed her thoroughly. After I heard the words “Isn’t she pretty” from Katrina for the 50th time, they turned her loose on the floor again to contaminate the house. I just sat there in a daze taking it all in. I could visualize myself lying in bed at night, suddenly waking up coughing as I was being smothered to death by piles of white dog hair covering my face.
While I was observing the dog, Bradley, and I suppose everyone else, was observing me. Bradley said “Why don’t you pet her, Daddy? You’re the only one who hasn’t pet her.” I had no immediate response to this, but soon I bent down to pet the dog, and as she quickly warmed up to me, she decided to roll over and show me her udders. Fighting off the urge to run and get a bucket, I told the kids that maybe we just needed to milk her since she seemed to have such an abundance of it. Bradley seemed to think it would be a good idea to gather some milk for our soon to arrive baby, Olivia, but Katrina didn’t go for that.
Bedtime had arrived for the kids and the dog, and while Katrina got the kids ready for bed, I took the dog and a bowl of water out back, glad to have the excitement subside for awhile. After we got everyone in bed, Katrina and I sat down for a breather and a late night snack as we listened to our new little friend yapping in the backyard. I asked Katrina what we were going to name the dog, and for some reason the name Sophie came to my mind. Being the wise woman she is, she quickly agreed with me, knowing this would be a way to get me on board with this whole adoption process.
The next day brought a slight reprieve from dogsitting, at least for a little while. Katrina had to go to her doctor appointment to see if baby Olivia was ready to see the world yet, but came home disappointed. No changes.
The weatherman had been forecasting a terrible winter storm to arrive later that evening, which was predicted to bring very cold temperatures, snow, and a chance of animals being brought indoors. When I arrived home that day, thankful that Katrina’s sister had donated some dog food to our cause, I was greeted in our dining room by our daughter Hannah, followed by our little white fluffball, complete with a pink bow in her hair. Someone was on a campaign to win me over.
Hannah led the dog around the dining room on her leash as she kept saying “Come on, Soapy. Come on, Soapy”. I gave Katrina the “I know what you’re up to” look, and she just smiled, very pleased with herself that the name Sophie, which I had suggested, took hold so easily when she mentioned it to the kids.
As I surveyed the situation, I said “The dog sure looks clean.” Katrina said, “Yeah, she was soaking wet from being out in the rain and mud all day (where you left her), and besides, it’s supposed to snow tonight. She’ll freeze to death out there.” After more observation, I discovered the nice doggy bed that Katrina had made on the porch for Sophie, complete with a warm blanket. The basket was inside of our giant fold-out play yard, which we had acquired for the kids when they were babies. What I couldn’t understand was why the dog was in the house, since she had such grand accommodations on our front porch, but I guess my logical brain just can’t figure out such things. We settled in for the evening, enjoyed our warm fire, and waited for the blizzard to arrive while Sophie barked at us through the French doors. The loud noise that this dog could produce was amazingly more apparent to us since she was within two feet instead of two-hundred.
One of the blessings of being with Katrina during her late pregnancy is getting to hear the incredible sounds of a sawmill next to me in bed, due to the constricted air flow she has from the baby. The challenge of the past month has been to get to sleep first, because once I’m asleep the noise doesn’t seem to bother me. The blessing of it is knowing that Katrina does not normally do this, which will mean that things will be back to normal soon. On this particular night it was a double challenge for me to beat Katrina to sleep and to shut out the sound of the dog yapping below, but I finally managed it.
Around midnight I must have been having the most peaceful sleep, along with everyone else, inside and outside the house, until something woke me up. I leaped out of the bed like a jackrabbit, and when I did, I somehow fell flat on the floor, which inflicted a terrible carpet burn on my left knee. Since I was now awake, I figured I would go downstairs to see how deep the snow was from the impending blizzard.
I walked downstairs as quietly as possible, walked over to the front windows, looked out, but could not make out any snow. I then walked over to the garage and flipped on the outside garage light in hopes of seeing the snow. It was coming down very hard, and a considerable ground cover of the white stuff was forming as well. I was then reminded of what a stupid mistake I had just made when the yapping machine outside got wound up to a high pitch. I might as well have just walked into the middle of the house and cranked up the leaf blower. I quickly turned off the light and went upstairs and back to bed, dozing off quickly as if nothing had happened.
My alarm went off promptly at 4:30, and I trudged downstairs to begin my day. I got my coffee started, and as I headed across the dining room to go upstairs for my shower I heard the sound of scratching on the garage door. I had no idea how the dog had magically transported itself from the porch to the garage, but I didn’t care yet as I was not fully awake.
After completing my wake-up shower and getting dressed, I came downstairs to the sound of Sophie barking, and barking, and barking. I poured my cup of coffee, set it on the countertop, and then headed out to the garage to show Sophie that my voice had some volume as well. It worked for a moment, but she indicated quickly that another dose of my yelling was needed, for which I was happy to comply. After this dose the barking subsided, and I went back into the house, wondering how she had gotten in the garage. I guess Katrina had gotten up in the night, felt sorry for her because of the cold outside, and took her in the garage.
As I settled into my first cup of coffee and my daily Bible reading, I was pleased with myself that Sophie and I had come to an understanding, so it seemed, that she would be quiet. The house was tranquil for a little while, but as I went about my business completing my morning routine, the thought occurred to me that not only was the dog in the garage, but that my car was too. I would have to somehow manage to get my car out of the garage while keeping the dog in.
I finished gathering my things for work, and in my usual fashion, made two trips to the car. I had this routine to near perfection by now, knowing that I couldn’t juggle my cup of coffee and my other things at the same time without spilling my coffee. I went into the garage and somehow managed to keep Sophie from coming inside, and then opened the garage door. It was snowing pretty hard, and I was glad to see that Sophie wasn’t wanting any part of that. I put my laptop and lunch in the passenger seat and then went back to retrieve my coffee and bagel.
Upon returning to the garage, I managed to step in a nice fresh pile of Sophie poop, just as I looked up to see her in the driver’s seat of my car, as if she had done this lots of times. Once was enough for me, and I quickly removed her from inside the car. After putting my coffee and breakfast in my clean car, freshly soiled by paw prints, Sophie and I went outside to have a chat while I scraped poop off of my shoe. After we got finished with our one-sided conversation in the snow, I got in the car, backed out of the garage, and headed to work. When I saw Sophie staying in the garage as the door went down it gave me flashbacks of our last dog, a beagle named Buddy. When the garage would open, Buddy would bound out the door like a runaway train, happy to be exposed to the freedom. I drowsily drove off to work with the excitement of Sophie in my rear view mirror.
Katrina and the kids got up a little later, and the kids quickly took up with Sophie where they had left off the night before. Katrina had to clean her up a little to let her in the house for a few moments, and then she put the dog back out on the porch for the rest of the morning. Apparently Sophie did not understand this arrangement, because she continued to bark incessantly all morning.
Shortly after lunch a couple of neighbor girls came to the front door, as school was out because of the snow storm, and asked if anyone had seen a little white dog. At last, Sophie’s owners had come to claim her, and rescue us from anymore turmoil. One of the girls quickly identified her dog, whose name was actually Tabby.
Katrina carried her to the girl, removed the hair bow and collar, and proceeded to let the kids tell her goodbye. The kids didn’t seem too interested in bidding her farewell, but were a little more encouraged to know that the girl said they could come over and see Tabby whenever they wanted to.
As things seemed to get back to normal that evening, Katrina and I were both relieved that we would not have to worry about a dog as our new baby arrived. The kids were relieved that the dog had revived their hopes, as they knew we had promised them a dog in the spring. Perhaps there is a Sophie out there for us somewhere. Soon we will see.
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, March 3, 2008