The Elegance of Needles in Haystacks

Tom and I have evidently lost some essential piece of common sense; we no longer hear those sniveling little voices that warn of pending doom, which makes it quite a jolt when it shows up – suddenly, as it always does.

We occasionally care for the small dogs for vacationing dog-lovers.  This has been thoroughly amusing and Dink, our dachshund, seems to enjoy the intermittent chaos.  Last Wednesday morning, however, doom arrived in the form of a tiny white Chihuahua with greyhound instincts.

Her name is Mia.  Her pack-mates, a Bichon  and a Maltese, settled in like they’d arrived at a posh resort.  Mia, however, thought the place had “prison” written all over it, so when a gusty breeze swung the garage man-door open, she didn’t waste the opportunity.  Zoom --  and she was gone.

OK – ask – how far can a four-pound dog travel in two minutes?  Answer: a lot farther than we can.  We ran out the back gate, but she was nowhere in sight. Not in the churchyard next door, not across our busy street, not at the neighbors’ house.  We walked in different directions calling her name – uselessly; our voices couldn’t have sounded familiar yet. 

As I rushed through the gate at the back of the church property, I glanced behind me, and there she stood, about fifty yards away in the scrub oaks by our driveway.  I ran off across the field toward her, but in the minute it took me to return, she’d done another vanishing act.  Poof. 

So, there we were, with somebody else’s tiny dog (the needle) lost at the edge of a town ( the haystack).  The owner was on her way to Hawaii, which she wasn’t going to enjoy much.  Sipping Mai Tais on the beach is hard to take pleasure in if you’re picturing your dog being torn asunder by coyotes.

Tom rode his bike all over.  I drove my car.  We both handed out fliers.  We talked to at least a hundred people.  Our neighbors made signs, drove around in their cars. We called Animal Control, the Humane Society, we talked to the police, the mailman. It seemed that all of Central Point was on the lookout for Mia, though I couldn’t see how that would help – she was so skittish, she was going to be hard to get a hold of.

It didn’t help to imagine where she might go – duh – home, but home was thirty miles away and one could get there by road heading either north or south.  And wouldn’t a Chihuahua just head overland? And there be beasties.  

The day wore on and we no longer heard reports of her.  We caught no more glimpses.  She had vaporized.  We went to bed that night knowing only that God knew where she was and the time hadn’t yet arrived to give us that info.  We prayed that she’d be cared for and that we’d find her.  How people lose children and go on living is beyond me; here I was, just sick about a pocket dog that wasn’t even mine.

We left the gate open and her bed on the back porch in case she came back, but Thursday morning dawned and no Mia. I mimicked our neighbor’s idea and made a big sign for the front curb.  Then we went out driving around – the other three dogs on my lap.  We passed out more fliers, accosted folks in the stores and banks and the park.  Nothing, and it was nearly noon.  She’d been out there in the world alone for 24 hours.

We headed home.  We had just pulled into the driveway when a young man riding a motorized skate board (!) zoomed in behind us.   He grinned and said,  “I just wanted to tell you your dog will be home soon.”   He said he’d found her and handed her off to a lady in a truck who would be bringing her home. He said that he had Chihuahuas and couldn’t imagine losing one. He left before we thought to ask his name.

So we waited.  I cleaned up the kitchen, fixed lunch,  took the other dogs out, puttered around.  Almost an hour later the dogs jumped off the couch, running around the room in one of their ballistic barking fits.  Someone knocked on the door.  There stood a lovely blonde woman with Mia cradled in her arms. 

But here’s the rest of the story – She had seen our sign while out running errands.  She said she couldn’t explain why, but she thought she’d go look out on Upton Road, north and east of us about a mile.  She drove to the ball park out there and on the field she spied two young men with a small white dog. She drove in, approached them and asked if the dog was theirs.  They hesitated and she asked if her name was Mia; they had to check her tags to answer that one.  She explained about the sign and her search – you see, she had Chihuahuas too, and couldn’t imagine losing one.  They handed Mia over and one of them set off the give us the good news.

What are the odds that a random woman would see a lost dog sign and know right where in the haystack to look?  What are the odds that the boys who found her, and the woman who brought her home, would know how to handle such an anxious, fearful little dog?

When we asked Mia’s chauffeur if we could offer her a reward, she said, “No.  Just pay it forward.”  So I’m writing this.  You see, the whole escapade was a burning bush moment for me.  I’ve had many of them, but I’m no less astounded.  It’s so easy to slip into that awful it-all-depends-on-me mode and forget that God has everything under control, even when it doesn’t look like it.  He knew where she was,  He got her through the cold dark night and brought her home, and He did that in a way that would let us know He was in it.

Here’s the kicker.  We immediately called Mia’s “mom.”  Her plane had just landed in Hawaii.  She lost no vacation time and is right now sitting on a beach, sipping her Mai Tai without a care in the world.  And Mia has changed her mind about the Chadwell Resort.  She’s asleep on my lap as I write this.