I was going to Arkansas to see my mother. My two daughters, 14 and 17, were with me. I had driven most of the day and was passing the point of exhaustion by the time I began to look for a hotel to crash for the night. I had not anticipated the busy-ness of the season. Every hotel, it seemed, was full. Finally, someone told me that a little country inn a short distance from the freeway had a room. Gratefully, I found the place and had myself and both girls tucked safely between the sheets in short order.
The following morning, I let the girls sleep in while I grabbed my Bible and a cup of steaming hot coffee and headed out the door. I had noticed a wooden swing the night before and hoped that it was unoccupied. It was. I settled into it just as the sun washed over the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Glorious!
That is when I noticed that I was not alone. I looked down, into the huge brown eyes of a stray dog. She was coal black except for the white star on her chest and precisely two inches of white on the tip of her tail. I had noticed her and several other dogs roaming the parking lot when I arrived the night before. I remembered wondering where they had come from and what they were doing out there in the middle of nowhere. I was glad for her company.
Then the other dogs came back and they were hungry. Now, my kids tell people I am making this up, but I swear I am not. My canine friend left my side and returned with a morsel of food—which she shared, in the most lady like manner, with her friends. Then she returned to my side and lay down beside me—it was then that she won my heart. She looked at me as if to say, “Aren’t we having fun?” Her tail wagging, the white tip looking for all the world as if she had dipped it in a bucket of white paint.
I asked about her at the desk and was told that the dog was a stray. She, and the other dogs that had apparently appointed her their leader, were all strays. The pound had been called, repeatedly, but they hadn’t bothered to respond. There was no hurry to pick up stray dogs in an out of the way place.
“Can I have her?” I couldn’t believe I had asked. My husband was going to kill me. Before I left the hotel, I had it all worked out.
The kids and I loaded her into the car, dirt, ticks, and all, and headed for the nearest vet thirty miles away. There she went through the works. She was deticked, defleaed, vaccinated, and bathed. Nevertheless, those stubborn Tennessee ticks refused to die. They got sick and crawled off, into my girl’s lap, one at a time. The vet had given us a bottle of alcohol with the assurance that if we dropped the ticks in the alcohol, they would certainly die. She was right. And I was amazed that my daughters would dare to pick up the icky little critters and dump them in the bottle. They, too, had fallen for the little black mutt with the big brown eyes.
The next thing was to break the news to my husband that I had violated his strict order to never—ever—again pick up a stray animal. What if he stuck to his guns and told me to take the dog to the nearest animal shelter? I couldn’t bear it. The girls and I spent the next couple of hours, between picking ticks off the dog, plotting how to pull this one over on my determined, but tender hearted husband. Finally, I called him.
“Hey, Baby. I sure do miss you.”
“I miss you, too.”
“I can’t wait to see you in a couple of days in Arkansas.”
“Yeah, you too………”
Okay, it’s now or never. I plunged in, “Baby, I..uh…have something to tell you but I promise you that if you don’t want to keep it, we don’t have to. My mother said she would take it…”
“What on earth are you talking about?”
“What kind of dog?”
“Well, I’m not sure exactly. The vet thinks she is a border collie/lab mix …”
“The Vet? Aren’t you in the car—traveling to Arkansas…”
“To see your mother?”
I jumped in to seize the opportunity. “Yeah, honey. And Mother has been wanting a dog.”
“You got it for your mother?”
“Well… if you say we can’t keep her, Mother will take her…”
I managed to get an agreement that Mike would give her two days to win his unwilling heart—and if she did not, we would leave her in Arkansas with her newly adopted mother when we went home. That was certainly a better fate than going to the pound out in the middle of nowhere.
And then I got in that last bit of persuasion that I just knew would win his heart, “Honey, we named her Charlie.”
“She’s a girl and you named her Charlie? Why’d you call her that?”
“We just thought it was a sweet name for a really sweet dog.”
I failed to mention that I had heard Mike speak of a dog he had when he was kid that was named Charlie. Everything counts when you are as determined to win as I was with this one.
That didn’t sound good. But two days later, Charlie’s place in our home and our hearts was secured. I didn’t find out until several months later that my ingenious plan had one caveat.
Mike’s mother had come to visit and I was gleefully telling her how I had gotten my way about keeping Charlie. She looked surprised and then said, “Charlie was the only dog we ever had that Mike hated.”
I guess it was just meant to be.
Tomorrow, I will tell you more about the little mutt with the big heart that will always be a part of our family.