A few weeks after the Greyhound picnic, Mom and Dad pack some bags and my crate into the car and then early in the morning, we all get in the car and go to… “Grandma and Grandpa’s.”
They unload the car, put their bags into a different car and bring my crate inside the house. Mom’s mother greets me as she usually does – loudly. I let her hug me and give me a kiss loud enough to burst an eardrum.
“You’ll be careful, right? You’ll hold her leash tightly?”
“Yes, honey, yes. Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of her.”
“OK. Here’s her schedule. Her toys and food are in the bag. You’re going to put her bed in your bedroom, right?”
“Yes. Don’t worry. Don’t get her upset.”
Mom comes to me, crouches down, strokes my head and sighs.
“You be a good girl, OK? We’ll be back in less than a week. I love you.”
She kisses the top of my head and walks out the door with Dad, who just pats my head and says, calmly and briefly, “Bye, Gracie. Be a good girl!”
They get into “Grandpa’s” car with him and leave. I go the window and whimper.
Hey, come back!
“It’s OK, Gracie-Grace, they’ll be back.”
When? Where did they go???
I go to the window throughout the day to check for them. Mom has left me here before and come back for me in a few hours. She’ll be here by bedtime, I know it. I settle down for a nap.
* * * * *
Bedtime comes and goes – for a few days! Still, Mom and Dad don’t come for me. “Grandma” enjoys my company, and I try not to be too depressed. I spend a lot of time in my crate – by choice, I’m never told to go in there. But it smells like home, so I feel comforted there.
I hear “Grandma” talking about me on the phone. She tells me she’s talking to “Mommy.” I know that’s Mom.
Please ask her when they’re coming back!
“Don’t worry, Gracie-Grace. They’re coming back.”
But she doesn’t answer, because she doesn’t understand.
I stop counting the days. One day I’m out in the front yard with “Grandma” and “Grandpa’s” car pulls in. Someone steps out of the car very quickly. I freeze in place. Is it…?
I burst into a happy dance, bounding up to them, twirling and jumping for joy.
“Hi, baby girl! I missed you soooo much.”
Mom crouches down and hugs me while Dad strokes my head and neck. I’m ecstatic.
I knew you’d come back for me! I knew! Can we go home now?
“Come on, baby girl, let’s go home.”
They move their bags to our car and collapse my crate and put it in the car. When they lead me to the car, they don’t need to coax me in – I jump right in. I want to go home with my family!
We arrive home and Mom and I take our walk. Then it’s back inside to unpack. Before we know it, it’s bedtime. Mom spends the next day with me. It’s good to be home.
* * * * *
About six weeks after my stay with Mom’s parents, on a very hot day, Mom gets her sister to help her load my crate in the car and tells me to get in the car as well.
Uh-oh. Are you leaving me again?
“It’s OK, Gracie-girl. You’re going to your other grandparents’ house this time.”
But you’re leaving me??
We take the drive to Dad’s parents’ house. Dad isn’t with us; he left as usual this morning. I’m a little worried.
When we arrive, Mom clips on my leash, lets me out of the car and tells me to “Go pee-pee.” I comply. Then she leads me up to the house, where my other “Grandma” is waiting for me. She greets me happily, but not nearly as excitedly as Mom’s mother does. They bring me inside, then go to the car to unload my crate. They bring the crate into the large room in the back of the house and set it up. Mom gets me some water and then talks to “Grandma” about my food and potty schedule.
“Thank you so much. And please call us if you have any questions.”
“Don’t worry, Sweetheart. We’ll take good care of her.”
Mom kisses me, tells me to be good, and leaves.
But she’s gone. I go to the window and whimper a bit. Then I settle down and sigh. I guess I’ll take a nap. I wonder how long Mom and Dad will be away.
A few hours later, “Grandpa” arrives. He takes me out for a jog. That night, he sleeps in the large room with me. I’m glad for that. I haven’t ever slept in a room alone.
The next day, “Grandpa” takes me for a jog again. I spend most of the day under the ceiling fan, relaxing. I still go to the window periodically to check for Mom and Dad. In the evening, “Grandpa” goes out, and “Grandma” watches TV with me in the large room. She sits on the couch, I lie on the floor. It’s raining outside. It begins to thunder. I’ve dealt with thunder at home with Mom and Dad. No problem. But now, in a place that’s not home, without my family, I’m a bit scared. A sudden, exceptionally loud thunderclap startles me, and before I know what I’ve done, I find myself on the couch next to “Grandma.” She laughs and pets me gently.
“Oh, it’s OK, Sweetheart.”
Whoa. That was scary. Sorry.
The rest of the evening passes and “Grandpa” returns, takes me outside, and sleeps in the large room with me again.
Two more days pass. Then, in the evening, Mom and Dad come in! I’m lying on my bed under the ceiling fan. I roll over joyously.
HI HI HI HI!!!! I’m SOOO happy to see you! Rub my belly!
They laugh and pet me. Mom hugs me. They load up the car with my things and we go home.
* * * * *
About a month later, there is excitement in the air. A storm is brewing. I can feel it. Mom and Dad keep talking about evacuation.
“We are on a hill, but we’re less than a mile from the ocean. We should go.”
“Well they said we can stay the weekend, but they don’t want Gracie there.”
“I know, but I’m not leaving Gracie with anyone else in this kind of situation. My parents are in a mandatory evacuation zone, so it makes no sense to leave Gracie with them. If there’s a disaster, our family stays together. That includes Gracie. If they won’t let us bring her, then we’ll have to evacuate elsewhere. I’m not leaving her.”
“OK, baby. I’ll see if I can convince them.”
The next morning, Mom and Dad pack a suitcase for themselves and a bag for me. They load up the car, tell me to get in, and drive for an hour. When we stop, we are at a large house on a large property. We go to the back door.
“Hey. Come on in.”
“Thank you so much for letting us bring Gracie.”
“No problem. She just has to stay down here – she can’t go upstairs.”
“That’s perfectly fine. She’ll be OK down here.”
“OK, well, we’ll let you guys get settled. We’ll be upstairs.”
I sniff around. It’s a cozy apartment in the lower level of the large house. I can smell faint traces of Dad’s scent. He’s been here before. These people are his friends. Mom brings my bed into the bedroom and pats it.
“Come here, baby girl. You have to stay here. We won’t be far – we’ll be just upstairs. I’ll come check on you. And we will sleep down here with you, baby girl. OK?”
OK. As long as you don’t forget me…
Mom and Dad go upstairs and I’m alone. After an hour or so, I start to whine – loudly.
Helloooo! I’m lonely!
Mom comes downstairs a few minutes later.
“Shhh, baby. I know you’re lonely.”
She stays with me for awhile, then returns upstairs. She checks on me at regular intervals. She feeds me at dinner time. Late in the evening, she comes down to stay. She gets into pajamas, starts a movie, and crawls into bed. About an hour later, Dad comes down. He gets into bed and we all sleep.
* * * * *
We all wake with a start.
“There goes the power. The storm is here.”
“What time is it?”
We go back to sleep. When we wake in the morning, it is raining and the fierce winds I heard overnight have calmed a bit. Mom takes me outside to relieve myself.
There are branches down everywhere. The creek in the backyard is now a river. The ground is carpeted with wet leaves. I relieve myself and we return inside.
The day passes much like the one before. When Mom and Dad are downstairs, I hear them talking about how we will get home and the conditions there.
“The Township’s website tells us which roads are impassible. And so far, any of the roads we must use to get home are either flooded or are closed because of downed power lines. And there’s no power at home or within a couple of miles of home.”
“Then I guess we’ll be staying another night here.”
* * * * *
The next morning, Mom and Dad pack up the car and we set off for home. There are countless detours and delays, turning the one hour drive into a much longer journey. Finally, the car stops.
Hey, this isn’t home…
“OK, we’ll get her set up quickly and I’ll get you home so you can get your work clothes and go to work, although I still think it’s ridiculous that you have to go.”
“I think it’s ridiculous too, but I don’t have a choice.”
We walk up to a house that smells familiar. It’s my Grandparents’ house – Dad’s parents.
“Hi Sweethearts. You can set up Gracie’s things in the family room.”
They set up my crate and bed in the large room where I stayed when Mom and Dad left me here the last time. Then they begin to leave.
Are you leaving me again?
“I’ll be back in a couple of hours, Mom. Just going to go home and get some clothes and stuff.”
Oh, good. You’re coming back.
Dad comes back in a few hours. Mom comes back an hour or two after that. They feed me and eat their own dinner with Dad’s mother.
“Your Dad won’t be home until late tonight – after the storm there’s a lot of cleanup work they have to do at the plant.”
We spend a quiet evening and Mom and Dad set up a makeshift bed on the oversized couch and ottoman. Dad gets up early like he does at home and leaves. Mom gets up about an hour later and has breakfast with Grandma. Then Grandma leaves and Mom and I take a long walk.
When we return, Mom gets changed and leaves me with Dad’s brother. He stays away from me – he doesn’t like animals. So I nap in the family room until someone who likes my company gets home.
The evening passes like the last. They talk about going home the next day.
“The power should be back tomorrow.”
“Good. I can bring some of the stuff home in the morning because it’s my day off.”
In the morning, Mom loads up her car and leaves. In a couple of hours she’s back and stays with me for the rest of the afternoon. After dinner, they load up Dad’s car, put me in Mom’s car, and we go home.
Mom sighs after unpacking everything.
“It’s good to be home. But you know, I didn’t mind living with your parents for awhile. And Gracie was so good.”
I was? Thanks, I try.
The hurricane brought with it the end of summer. Autumn is on the way. I’ve been with my new family for almost a year now. And I wouldn’t change a thing.