It’s a rainy, messy wintry day. I have the flu…and pneumonia! In case you were wondering…it stinks! Anyway, I decided that my mind needed a little break from reading other people’s stories, so I decided to write one of my own. Sometimes the only way to tell it is to just get on with the tellin’…so without further ado…I give you Charlotte’s story:
On January 11, 2015 I received a phone call from my mother in law. She asked me if “the girls” were home and I told her we would be soon. She said she was almost to my house and would be there waiting for us when we arrived. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the driveway and the girls jumped out of the truck to go see what Momo was up to. When the van door opened, I heard squeals of delight coming from Maggie and Linnie. Greg and I approached the door to see what the squealing was about and to our GREAT surprise we saw a tiny, white, puppy.
Yes. A puppy. No warning. No clue. No…hey do you want another puppy? Just, a puppy.
I guess I should tell you that this new puppy was number four for the girls. Momo was being sweet and thought that number four would be helpful. She was correct.
In August 2011 Greg and I went to the World’s Longest Yard sale. We had a great time and ended up coming home with a cute little Bassett Hound puppy we found along the way. He nor I had ever been “animal” people, but that puppy was so cute! Greg said it had to come home with us to live with the girls. We promptly named him Rosco and he became an instant member of our family.
It wasn’t long before we decided that Rosco needed another dog with him. We didn’t realize that Bassets were social dogs and they do not do well alone. Greg was adamant that we only have another Bassett.
So, after asking around we found one in Millport. We went to pick up this one on the way home from the farm one day. Bosco, formally known as Rosco, was a full-grown male who could be surly and mean if he felt so inclined. Thankfully, he was never mean to the girls.
At the time we lived in the trailer on top of the hill. We didn’t have a fence and the dogs pretty much just roamed wherever they wanted to go. We could always count on them being in the yard when we got home though.
One day on his way home, Greg saw a bloody heap lying in the road. He stopped and sure enough it was Bosco. Rosco was right beside him, but only Bosco had been hit. Greg ended his misery; came in the house got an old towel to wrap his mangled body in; and then lead our sad little party down to a spot under a tree beside the pond. That’s where we buried him.
Losing Bosco was also the girls’ first experience with death.
Greg and I decided that we needed to find another Bassett for Rosco. So, we called Momo and had her look for one. (She is the animal person in the family!) It wasn’t long before she called and said that some she knew was gonna have puppies. After they were born and ready to go, loaded the girls up into the minivan and set off for Hamilton with Momo in tow. We met the lady at Bevill State and put our claim on the runt of the litter. Her name was Rosie and she was adorable.
Rosco and Rosie were two happy peas in a pod for a couple of years. They played well together and seemed to love each other until the day we came home, and Rosie was alone. We looked and looked for Rosco, but he never appeared. The girls were so sad. It didn’t make sense why Rosie was home, but not Rosco.
I was on the way to the farm the day I found him. He was sitting on the side of the road just outside of Belk and I noticed him immediately. I pulled the car over and jumped out. When I called his name, Rosco ran over and jumped up on my leg. I think he was glad to see me! So, I loaded him up and took him home.
Rosco was home for about four months. Then, he disappeared again. He still hasn’t come home. Rosie was alone, and she did not do well alone! That dog was the most pitiful thing you have ever seen! She would whine and cry and crawl around begging you to pet her. She hated not having her partner to play with and would just sit and watch the girls play in the yard instead of joining them like she had always done. That’s when Momo decided that the girls (Rosie included!) needed another dog.
The day Charlotte came to live with us I declared for all the world to understand that IF anything were to happen to either one of those dogs we would NOT be getting another one. I was over the love ‘em and lose ‘em part of being a pet owner. Especially when I knew that there was an illegal dog ring being run in our area. Several people I knew had full-blooded dogs that had gone “missing” in recent months and the word on the street was that they were being taken to Mississippi and resold in an underground pet shop. (Insert my intense anger here.)
Anyway, now that Charlotte had joined our family we enjoyed playing with her and Rosie every day. They were nearly identical to one another (even though they came from completely different lines) and it was funny to watch them run around together. As much as they looked alike, they acted totally different. I have laughed many times over how human their attitudes were. Rosie was a pleaser and all she wanted was to be praised. Charlotte is a bit high and mighty. She would always spit out her medicines or eat the ham and leave the Heartgurard laying on the ground. She would literally gag if you tried to force her to eat anything. Greg and I laughed many times because Rosie was just like Maggie and Charlotte was just like Linnie.
It was the end of May or the first of June (I can’t really remember exactly) of 2015 when both Charlotte and Rosie went missing. We came home one afternoon, and they were gone. They didn’t come home that night or any of the next nights either. At the time, my grandmother was very sick. My great-aunt had moved in with her and she was also not doing well. It was the end of the school year and my whole family was doing what we could to try to help with Me-Maw and Aunt Martha. During that time Greg also started having more problems with his heart. With so much going on, the loss of our dogs was kind of put on the bottom of the list. I didn’t have time to focus on where they might be, and I was more than a little pissed to even have to be thinking about it to begin with, ya’ know?
About two weeks after the dogs “went missing” we lost Aunt Martha. Three weeks later we lost Me-Maw. Two months later we lost Greg.
A week after Greg died, I gave his turkeys and chickens away. There are really no words adequate enough to describe the level of grief we all reached. I guess I should admit that I was a little bit relieved to not have to take care of any animals; I did good to keep both of my children alive.
One day I was reading in my bible and I came across Jeremiah 33:10-12. It said:
“This is what the Lord says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without people or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying,
“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
for the Lord is good;
his love endures forever.”
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.
12 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.”
That’s when I claimed those verses as my own. I decided that one day, God would restore my land. He would bring a man and animals back into my life. And, I believed it with my whole heart.
Fast forward to November 6, 2017.
Amazingly, I am now re-married…living in the house that Greg and I built…and I have two step-children. It was our weekend to have “the kids” and three of the four were not feeling well. On Monday morning, I had to take Abigail to school while the other three stayed home.
We were driving up the county road we live on headed towards school that morning when I saw her lying on the side of the road. I looked at her and thought, “Nah, there’s no way”. As I got closer I looked over at Abigail and said, “Abi, that’s our dog!”.
If you know Abi, you already know she is not real perceptive. Like, most things just go right over her head. So, she was really, really confused by me saying that was our dog considering the fact that she didn’t even know we had a dog!
I pulled the car over to the side of the road and jumped out. I immediately recognized Charlotte. It is weird to me how I knew her as soon as I saw her. Dogs must be like kids. When you get them as a puppy, you don’t forget who they are! I leaned down and called Charlotte’s name and she perked her head up, sat up, then ran to me and jumped up on my leg! I rubbed her head and talked to her all the while in complete shock! This dog had been gone for two years and four months!! Honestly, it was like seeing a ghost!
It didn’t take me long to get her loaded up in my car. Abi was still in total disbelief and she asked again, “Whose dog is this? She STINKS!”
I laughed and said it was Maggie and Linnie’s dog…and now it was her dog too! Abi is kinda like me…she’s not really an animal person, but she put on a good front. Except for the stinking part. It was drizzling rain, but we rode the rest of the way to school (and back home) with the windows down! Of course, Charlotte throwing up on the ride home had a little something to do with the windows being down, but whatever. LOL
When I got home, I couldn’t wait to show the girls. I knew they would be just as shocked as I was…and I was correct! They were so excited, and Sam didn’t quite know what to think. I did manage to remember to call Heath and tell him that “our dog was home” to which he replied, “We don’t have a dog”. I assured him, that yes…yes sir we sure did have a dog and she was home!
After I posted the video of the kids seeing Charlotte on Facebook it wasn’t long before my inbox starting dinging. A friend of mine named Emily (coincidence?) saw the video and said that Charlotte looked just like her dog “Maggie” (um, do you see where this is going?!).
After several minutes of texting back and forth and comparing pictures it became clear that Charlotte was Maggie…and Maggie was Charlotte. And both Emily’s were stunned!
In the meantime, another friend was texting me from the animal shelter. Apparently, Charlotte had been at the shelter off and on a couple of times. She had even been adopted by another family before my friend, Emily realized that she was at the shelter. When I asked where she had originally gotten “Maggie” she told me she had gotten her from someone in Berry the day of Johnny Nichols’ funeral.
Why is that significant? Well, Johnny Nichols is the man who bought the store from us when we sold it. He was the fire chief at Lawrence Mill Fire Department and was one of Greg’s best friends. He had died suddenly from a heart attack (just like Greg) two days prior. The fact that Emily found this dog on the day of his funeral is just plain out weird.
It is also weird that Emily lived close to the store the whole time that we had owned it. (Like, when we got all four of our dogs!) Emily and her little family lived less than a mile from the store. Emily’s family had only recently moved to the county road where we now live on the opposite end! She had known Greg and Johnny most…if not all her life! She had also known the girls their whole life! We literally passed her old home place every time we went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights! So, I knew that she didn’t have “Maggie” while she lived at that other house. Considering we passed that house a lot over the course of two years it stands to reason that we would have seen “Maggie” at least once if she had been there. Knowing that Emily didn’t take our dog was a no-brainer.
It just seemed really weird that some of the pieces that fell together…fell together! Charlotte has had quite the journey!
From what I have been able to piece together she and Rosie were kidnapped on the same day. I don’t know who took them or where the next stop was for them, and I still do not know what happened to our sweet little Rosie. Emily found “Maggie” in Berry. We have no idea where she had been or who she had been with before that (the story that Emily got didn’t add up when we figured out that Maggie was Charlotte).
I do know that Charlotte spent a good deal of time in and out of the pound. She was picked up numerous times by my friend, Phil before she was adopted by a family who paid to have her “fixed”. When I was questioned about having her fixed before she went missing, I couldn’t remember. Then, I remembered that we had planned to have her “fixed” but she was not old enough to do so before she was taken. Thankfully, the animal shelter requires that animals be “fixed” before they are adopted. I asked Phil if I needed to pay for the vet bill, especially since someone else had already paid for it and they didn’t have “their” dog anymore. Phil assured me that everyone had been reimbursed and that I didn’t owe anyone anything. He was really glad that now Charlotte was HOME.
That night I just had to laugh at how amazingly CRAZY this whole story was! I don’t know how, why, or if there is even a reason that so many of the details are so intertwined. What I do know is that Charlotte is without a doubt, home. I am a huge skeptic about a lot of things…but when you see an animal recognize its home after not being there in two years and four months…you don’t easily let it pass from your memory!
Heath’s first text after seeing Charlotte’s homecoming video on Facebook was: “Out of the House”. That night he and the kids built a dog house for her out of the molding I had torn down in our kitchen. The molding Greg had put up in that same kitchen eleven years before when I was pregnant with Maggie. I sit here today (in my chair!) and just laugh. I mean really, does this blow anyone else’s mind as much as it does mine?
Oh, one more thing. Charlotte spent two months moping around because she is a Basset Hound…and Basset Hounds are social animals who hate being alone right? Right. So, now we have Gypsy who is not a Basset Hound and who…as far as I am concerned…is the caboose for this crazy train!
Now you know the whole story or at least as much as I can remember in my current dazed and confused condition!