Two weeks ago, at church, we talked about the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitudes with two fish and two loaves of bread that a young boy had brought with him. I had heard the story before, but the pastor made an interesting observation. Did the boy who had packed a small lunch for himself have any idea what Jesus had in store for him that day? Did he have any idea how Jesus would use his lunch to perform a miracle and feed thousands of people? “This morning,” he continued, “Expect God to do great things in your life. Go ahead, try it.”
“Okay,” I thought, “I will try it. I will expect God to do something great today.” It did not take me long to think of something that I could expect God to do. The afternoon prior, our dog, Cindy Lou, had disappeared from our property. Most of our Valentine’s Day had been spent bombarding the social media with pictures and notices of our little, white Maltipoo. We live on a sports ranch where there is a lot of traffic, and a healthy population of coyotes. I had already given up on any hope of finding her and accepted the fact that she was gone forever. Either a coyote had gotten her, or someone had stolen her while we were out. My focus had changed from trying to find Cindy, to trying to figure out how I would tell the kids, who had spent the weekend at grandma and grandpa’s, that our beloved friend of 7 and half years, was no longer with us.
“Expect God to do something great today,” the preacher repeated.
And I could hear God speaking to me. “I walked on water, Shane. I healed the lame, and made blind men see. I turned water into wine and calmed raging storms. I died and rose again, and you doubt whether or not I can find your dog?”
“Okay,” was all I could muster. “I will expect great things today.”
So the story begins:
My wife, Robyn, got a message on her Facebook post that said that a dog that looked just like Cindy was brought in to All Pets Veterinary Hospital. It was Sunday, and the vet was closed, but we decided to go by there anyway, in case they had a picture of her on their door. Luckily, one of the volunteers happened to be there walking one of the dogs that had undergone surgery the day before.
“Oh, yes, yes…” the volunteer named Peter said with a smile as he looked at the picture of Cindy. My heart rate jumped a little. So far, this was pretty easy. I wasn’t even gonna have to tell my kids that their dog was ever missing. “Yes, this is definitely the dog that was brought in yesterday.”
“Great!” I exclaimed. “Can we get her?”
“Well, I wish you could, but we don’t have Cindy here.”
“Well, then where is she?”
“A lady brought her in yesterday. Said she found her wondering around 48th and Tecumseh Rd.”
“That’s around where we live,” I interjected, reaffirming that it was our dog.
“Well…we did not have any more room to board her. We were completely full, so I asked the lady if she could keep her for one or two nights and bring her back Monday. We would have some kennels open by then, but she said she could not keep her because they had strict ordinances where she lived. ‘Could you find maybe a friend to keep her for a night or two before you take her to the pound?’ I asked her, ‘This is not a common stray, this is a family dog. Someone is gonna be missing this little dog and come looking for her,’ I told her.”
My sudden joy faded quickly at the thought of Cindy being taken to the pound.
“She just said she could not, and left with your dog.” He paused a moment. Robyn and I stood silently, not sure if he had more to add to the story or if that was the end of it. “I did get her to leave her number though.” Both of us sighed, having unknowingly held our breath throughout the silence. “Yeah…I got it just before she walked out the door. Almost forgot. Here you go, she said her name was Paige.”
My wife grabbed the yellow sticky note with Paige’s number and headed to the car, while I thanked Peter for his help. Things were looking bright again.
“Anything?” I asked climbing into the car.
“No, just a voicemail.”
“Did you leave a message?”
“Of course, I did.” I could sense frustration in her tone. “I texted her, too. And no reply yet.”
“She is probably still in church. I am sure she will call first chance she gets.” My wife just grunted.
An hour later, Paige’s first text came in apologizing for not getting back sooner, but she was in church. And then came the rest of her text explaining that she had picked up Cindy wondering on 48th and Tecumseh (which is not quite a mile south from our house). She could not keep Cindy overnight, because of where she lived. So she returned to the area where she found her, and began looking for anyone wondering around searching for a lost dog. At this point, a random lady in a black SUV stopped and told her that she knew the owner of the dog and would return the dog to its owner. She took your dog. “I am so sorry,” she texted, “I did not know that the lady was being dishonest. She headed south on 48th Ave (in the opposite direction of our house).
“Did you get a name, a telephone number, a license plate or anything?”
“No. I just did not think to ask.”
“Was the dog wearing a white collar with orange trim?”
“Was the lady in the black SUV hispanic?” (Robyn and the kids had seen a hispanic woman at the sports complex with two maltipoo’s of her own, and our daughter had actually seen Cindy jump into her black SUV on one occasion several week’s earlier. So it was a fair question).
“Can you describe the SUV?”
“Can you describe the lady?”
“Do you have any other information that might help us find our dog?”
The rest of the day was spent pinning up posters of Cindy Lou all over the sports complex and at the local gas stations and markets, telling people that Cindy was last seen being picked up by a lady in a black SUV. I contacted every coach that uses the facility and told them to tell their teams about Cindy and the black SUV. All of the coaches gladly agreed to help. Everyone that comes to the sports complex knows and loves Cindy, and all the kids love her, so I was hoping they would help spread the word and keep their eyes open. Robyn continued to try and contact Paige, but to no avail. Her phone suddenly went to voicemail and all of our text messages went unanswered. I have to admit, that at this point, I began to doubt again. In my simple mind, I could not figure out how we would ever see our little dog again, and I wondered how scared she must be, knowing that someone had suddenly ripped her away from her family and turned her world upside down.
Our children did not take the news of their missing dog very well. We did our best to reassure them that Cindy had not been eaten by a coyote. She was alive and we still had a good chance of finding her. I am not sure how convincing I was. I had already started to give up hope again. To help get our minds off of it, we decided to go rent a movie. It was already getting dark when we sat in the Hastings parking lot and Robyn decided to give Paige one last call, only to receive her voicemail again. “What kind of person stops responding to us, when they are the last one to have actually had hands on our dog?” I wondered.
“Can you please, please call me back. I need to get some more information about the lady in the black SUV. We think we know who has Cindy, and we think we can get her back, but we need to get a little more information from you. Can you please, please call me?” My wife could not hide the desperation in her plea.
Upon returning home, someone on Facebook suggested we try Find My Fido.com on Facebook. So she tried it. As she scrolled down, a picture caught my daughter’s eye.
“Stop, Mom! Scroll back up! That’s a picture of Cindy!”
It was hard to tell since the picture was taken so close to the dog’s face. But it did resemble Cindy with her long messy hair.
“I think it’s her,” I agreed, grabbing any hope that I could cling to. The poor dog looked sad and confused behind the bars of the kennel.
The caption read:
This Maltese mix is a female. Estimated at 2yrs. old. She was turned in to the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter about an hour ago. For any information, please contact the OKC Animal Shelter.
Robyn called the shelter, but they were closed. The OKC Police dispatcher took her call and said that people claiming dogs have to come in at Noon the following day, no sooner. After a torturous night of sleep and a slow moving Monday morning, we made the drive to the Oklahoma City Shelter, despite the fact that we live in Norman, and have to drive through the City of Moore, in order to get to the OKC Shelter which is about 20 miles north of us, and the only shelter with an after hours night drop.
When the animal shelter says that you can claim a dog at 12 noon, they mean exactly 12 noon and not a minute earlier. Only one member of the family can go inside where the lost dogs are located, and they must be escorted by a security guard. Robyn volunteered to be that one person. Moments later, the kids and I rejoiced when we heard her scream echoing down the hall, “Cindy! It’s you! We found you, Cindy!” Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks as she carried Cindy toward us, and the kids jumped up and down, running to greet our little Cindy Lou.
“Can I get the name of the person that turned in Cindy. If it is who I think it is, I would like to file a police report.”
“I cannot give that information out.”
“How about if I give you a name, and if it matches the one in your records? Cn you file a police report?”
“Let me pull up the report,” he said and began typing. “Your dog was brought in after hours at the night drop. Says she was found on 48th Ave. Says the man that brought her in walked out the door before the volunteer could ask him any more questions.”
I may never find out the whole story behind Cindy Lou’s little adventure or how close she really was to being gone forever, but I know that, now, Cindy Lou is a safe at home with her family that loves her dearly. She paws at my legs every time I walk in the door, and rolls on her back for me to scratch her belly when I bend down to pet her. She chases me all day long on the tractor when it is warm enough to work outside, and she sits on my lap when I take my breaks.
“Thank you, Jesus,” I say as I watch her chasing my children. “I can’t believe…”
“I walked on water, Shane.”