My beautiful 12 year old step-daughter, Nico, had a dog named Sadie. As Nico travelled from her Mother’s house to ours, Sadie came with her. Like a shadow, the dog rarely left her side.
On Sunday, July 11th, we went to church like any other Sunday. When we returned home, we immediately noticed that one of our window screens was shredded. When we got inside, we discovered that Sadie was gone. With her Husky blood, the dog had been known to run off sometimes, but she always came back within an hour or so. That evening, as we got ready for bed and she still hadn’t returned, the worry started to set in. We spent the next several days making signs and driving down the country roads near our home calling for her. A couple of days later we started putting ads in the paper and calling the animal shelters that were near us. Nico’s Mom lives an hour and a half away and we worried that she, for some reason, took off for Nico’s other home.
We persued all of the avenues that we could, but after a month had passed, we started to think that she had been taken in by another family or maybe poisoned from an animal that she ate. Sadie was an excellent hunter and could easily take down squirrels and rabbits, so we knew she’d be able to eat. She is smart about roads, so I didn’t think she was hit by a car.
During the months that passed, we had a falling out with Nico’s Mom. The dynamic of co-parenting is a difficult one, especially when the parents have very different ideas about faith, discipline, education and safety. We had no idea that, on September 13th, when Nico walked out the door to go with her Mom, that we wouldn’t see her again for a very long time.
As weeks passed by without seeing Nico, we went through a range of different emotions. I have been in Nico’s life since she was 2, and have been with her through just about every milestone a child passes. From potty training, to losing a first tooth, to learning to ride a bike, I was the one who was by her side and I love her like my own daughter.
As weeks without Nico turned into months without Nico, I never stopped praying for her on a daily basis. I prayed for her to know the truth, to stay safe and to remember the Lord who loves her. I prayed for Sadie, too, along with Nico’s Mom and her Mom’s boyfriend. At least once a week, I would have a dream about finding Sadie. As my emotions tossed me around like a ship in a stormy sea, I had no choice but to rest on the solid foundation of our God. Somehow, God had a plan that I couldn’t see or fathom.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband was able to talk to Nico on his birthday and we got our hopes up that we’d be able to see her. Their first conversation that day went really well, with Nico saying she really wanted to see us that weekend. When my husband later talked to Nico’s Mom to try to arrange plans, everything went down hill. The conversation ended with Nico saying she was fine if she never came here again. Again, we felt like our hopes were completely dashed.
This Monday, it finally came to me that I should probably clean out Nico’s closet and homeschooling drawers. Seventy days had passed since we had seen our girl and I was starting to finally give in to the fact that we might not see her for a very long time. As I sat, drinking coffee and mulling over the sad task of cleaning out Nico’s belongings, an email came to my inbox from a friend with the title “Possibility”. Inside was a link to a Humane Society about 20 minutes from our home. I clicked on the link and saw this.
At first, my heart started pounding and my hopes soared. Then I noticed that this dog didn’t have any pink on her nose. Doubt crept in. Yet, as I brought up the picture alongside the one of Sadie and Nico, I could see that so many other characteristics were right on. I called the shelter to hear that they weren’t open until Wednesday. Two long days away. I bombarded the shelter with messages and sent an email to every email address I could find that was associated with them. Thankfully, by that evening, I received an email from the shelter manager telling me that I could meet them the following morning.
It was hard not to speed as we drove there the next morning. I was just praying that it really was her and I kept getting teary eyed thinking about the possibility that Sadie could be found, four and a half months after she ran away. When we got to the shelter, the manager went back to get the dog. The moment that Sadie had us in her sights, she flipped out. There was jumping and yipping and running….and crying. I crouched down and Sadie circled me and jumped over my lap and licked my face. The manager said to me, “So….I take it this is her?” with a laugh. Praise the Lord!!
As I was signing the release form, the shelter manager told me that Sadie had been picked up about 25 miles from our house on the VERY road she travelled everytime she went from Nico’s Mom’s house to ours. I keep reflecting on it and can see how God’s hand was in this whole situation.
Last night, 72 days since the last time we saw Nico, she came to our home and went running into her Father’s arms in tears. She apologized for the way she had talked to him on his birthday and said again and again how she wants to come to our house again like she used to. Things with her Mom are still a bit awkward, but we have hope that we may be able to work things out and have more time with our girlie. Before they left to go back home with Sadie, we decided to pray. As we stood in a circle and joined hands, my husband asked Nico’s Mom if she wanted to join us. I was so surprised when she said, “Sure.” I held hands with a woman I had been very angry with, and prayed for peace between us. I believe in the power of prayer and have seen so many answered recently.
Lord, thank you for keeping Sadie safe for the four and a half months that she was lost. Thank you for bringing Nico to our home and letting us see her and hug her. I just ask that you can bring peace to the relationship between the people who love Nico and that we would be able to rebuild relationships and help us to move forward. In Jesus’ name. Amen.