Her name is Sugar, and she is 1 part of a trio of dogs that I know. The other 2 are Mac and Bell. There’s nothing special about them; in fact, when I met their owner, she said they were just rescued Glennville mutts. They’re somewhat large dogs.

Let me give you some background to better understand this story:

I met them for the first time back in March. Upon being greeted by the owner at the front door, 2 of the dogs (Mac and Bell) were somewhat excited to meet this new person who had come to their house. As I entered the front door, I quickly closed it behind me, not wanting them to get out. The other dog, I was told by the owner via our emails, was very timid. This dog, Sugar, was on a leash inside the home so she wouldn’t slip out of the door upon my arrival. When I meet dogs for the first time, I bring them a treat, like a Milkbone dog biscuit. Having been told that Sugar was very timid, I thought it was a good way to begin to “break the ice” with her. Mac and Bell happily took their biscuit, and proceeded to eat it immediately. But, Sugar was cowering behind her owner still tethered to the leash. As I reached out to her with biscuit in hand, she pulled even further behind her owner. The owner tried to “pull” her to me, and I could see how afraid of me she was, so I said just leave her be, it’s ok, don’t worry. I gave the biscuit to the owner to give to Sugar later after I left.

We all gathered in the living room, where the owner and I got a chance to get acquianted, and I got to visit with her dogs. All the time I was there, Sugar stayed behind a chair in the far corner, peering at me with her big brown eyes. I talked to Bell and Mac a little, but Sugar stayed put. I made it my mission to become Sugar’s friend, no matter how long it took.

My first official day to visit had finally arrived that next weekend. Off I went armed with large Milkbone dog biscuits and my folding chair. I was going to sit on the big porch for two reasons: First, I LOVE porches, and second, because the owner said the dogs had gotten out before. Mac was the one who climbed the 4-foot fence, and he would usually just go around the house and finally wind up lounging on the front porch. In fact, they had all gotten out before, I was told, and sometimes it would be a few days until they returned. She said the last time Sugar had gotten out, she came home 10 days later! One time Bell was missing for 2 weeks!! Well, besides fires, my biggest fear is my own dogs getting out and never finding them again. So, knowing this, I was prepared to keep them in sight the whole time they were out in their fenced-in yard.

Well, the big porch where I sit and keep an eye on them, has two doors. One opens to the kitchen on one end of the porch, and the other one opens to the hall where we usually go in and out. The first weekend, I had to keep BOTH doors open in order for Sugar to be able to go in and out. There was no way she was getting anywhere near me. In fact, if there had been 10 acres, Sugar would have been on the other side of it. Mac and Bell would go in and out of the door with me; not Sugar. She would go in at the other door. There was no way she was taking any chances getting anywhere near me. And, the biscuits? lol She could have cared less about the biscuits. Her job was to keep both of those big brown eyes on me at all times. I’m thinking, ok this may take longer than I had originally thought. Mac came right to me, and he was all about the biscuits. Bell came and would get her biscuit, then go over to another spot to eat it. Sugar? Well, it took her 3 days and 7, or 8, visits by me to even think about taking a biscuit from my outstretched hand.

Finally, she got to where she would walk quickly past me on the porch to get to the yard. Before this, she would always take the other set of steps by the other door and the far end of the porch. I was making progress at the pace of a sloth, but it was progress nonetheless.

And then, it happened! I was sitting near one set of steps holding 3 large, yummy, Milkbone biscuits; one for each of them. She was watching those biscuits, and me. I stayed real still having already given the other 2 dogs their biscuits. I was still holding Sugar’s biscuit in my outstretched hand. She kept coming until she was close enough to smell it. I was holding my breath, not moving a muscle, but inside I was insanely happy! At first, she just put her front teeth on it; just a little bit, then let go. I stayed steady willing her to take it. The next time she put her mouth on it, I felt her tug, just a tiny bit. When that happened, we both let go at the same moment, the biscuit clattered to the floor, and Sugar skittered across the porch. But, after that day, and ever since, we have gotten closer and closer, and now Sugar and I are solid friends! I can rub her all over, even her legs and her tummy. She comes to me and wants me to scratch her back, or she wants to stick her nose to my clothes and smell the different smells on me: My own dogs, my food smells, my house smells, whatever.

This past July (2011), I won’t ever forget it, I got an email from the owner early that morning saying her dogs got out, and if I go that way, would I please look for them and let them back in the house. (The owner had to get to work some 30 miles away).  I have to say I felt my heart drop to my stomach. My first thought was Sugar!! OMG, knowing how scared she is of Everything, and here she is out of the safety of her yard!?! Panic!! I got in my car immediately and went to their house. Bell was lounging in the front yard under a shade tree, and Mac came from around the house when I called for him. I took them in the house, and went back out to look for Sugar, feeling a rock in my stomach and tears in my eyes. I was in panic mode. There were movers at the house across the street. I asked them if they saw her, they had not. I called her, going all around the big old house, telling her that I had a biscuit for her. I called and called for her, feeling worse and worse inside. I slowly drove the nearby streets with my car windows down, looking and hoping I would see her. Nothing. I even got some DQ lunch and sat in my folding chair near an opening under their house, hoping she would be hiding there and come out when she smelled the food. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t stop the tears. I felt positively and totally helpless. No one to help me. I felt my heart breaking.

Day after day, I went over there, or drove around looking for Sugar. At night I would cry myself to sleep. I prayed for her safety and her return. Knowing how scared she was of everything, I just knew she would get hit by a car and lie somewhere hurting. They live one block away from a 4-lane highway in our small town. Every street, every house, I willed her to appear so I could take her home. I had even put a dog leash in my car, just in case I found her somewhere (she wears a collar, no tags).  I posted on Facebook and asked others to pass it on in the hopes someone, somewhere would see her and call me. Her owner and I agreed to leave the front gate open while the other dogs were inside, in case she came home she could get in the yard. There was also their food and water on the porch. Her owner was distraught as well, saying she had dreams about Sugar when she was even able to sleep. That first Saturday after Sugar went missing was very sad. Bell and Mac even looked sad and lost. Mac came out of the house and he would cry and whine. Their tails didn’t wag. It’s like our spirits had been crushed. Days went by, and no sign of Sugar. I knew I had to take the next step and put up missing dog signs through town and in the local newspaper. Somehow, I dreaded doing this the most. I felt it meant that we would never see her again; that this was the last straw. But, I still had a glimmer of hope for her.

Luckily, I love to take pictures of dogs. I like to email them to their owners, and keep them in my own collection. I had a good picture of Sugar. Since I know the owner of the local newspaper in the next town, I asked him would he please print out 10 large posters with her picture on them. He did, at no charge to me. (Thank you, Russ). I wrote the necessary information, put colorful duct tape borders around the poster, bought a heavy duty stapler and staples, (which I had the owner help me load since I knew nothing about that kind of stapler), and went through town searching for places I knew would get the most views. I also put her in the Lost pet section of the local newspaper. Since we hadn’t seen any sign of her, I did my very best to remain hopeful that she was somewhere safe. I also kept sending prayers up for her safety and her return. Out of the 10 posters I put up around town, 3 of them had been taken down after one week. It had been 27 days since Sugar had gone missing. I didn’t cry so much anymore, but the ache was always there, especially when I visited them.

On that particular weekend, I was visiting them again. Bell, Mac and me. We were a sad bunch, but somehow getting through the days without Sugar. That Saturday was no different, with the exception of one thing. One person called me about a missing dog that afternoon. She was the only call I got the whole time Sugar was missing. (Apparently, Sugar was staying hid during the hot summer days). But, this woman called saying she was looking at a dog walking down the highway where her and her girls where. She didn’t know if it was THE dog, but thought she’d call just in case I wanted to drive out and see for myself. So, I got in my car and drove about 15 miles out in the country to see this dog. I wasn’t going to pass on ANY lead I got! Of course, it wasn’t Sugar. It was a male dog and he was eating something the woman said he had pulled out of a ditch. Poor thing. Obviously, he was hungry. His ribs were showing. Since I couldn’t take him home with me, (I didn’t need another dog), I remembered that I had a brand new bag of cat food in the back seat of my car. So, before I left, I figured at least I could give him some food for the night. I poured out a big pile of cat food which he was happily eating when I left. I went home for the final time that night wondering where Sugar was, and if we’d ever see her again. I guess I believe in karma, what goes around, comes around; one good turn deserves another, especially after what happened the next day.

The next day was Sunday. I went at my usual time to let Mac and Bell out, give them fresh water, food, and their morning biscuit. They ran right past me AND the biscuits, straight to the front gate and were busily smelling it. I thought maybe a cat had walked that way (they have a thing for cats)! But, today it was different somehow, they wouldn’t even leave the gate to get their biscuit when I called them (usually, they’re standing at the door when I come out with their treats). After I called them about 3 times, Bell finally turned from the gate to get hers, and Mac soon followed. While I happened to be inside the house getting the water bowl filled, something was happening outside. When I came out of the house with their water, it was strangely quiet, no dogs to be seen….at first. I thought OMG, not again!! I just knew that Mac had climbed over the fence again, and I immediately went into panic mode! I start yelling, “MAC! MAC!!  Get back here!!” There is a place on their fence line that is slightly bent, and that’s where Mac likes to escape when he can. (He tried it the very first time I was there by myself.) So, I knew where to go. Bell was still in the yard, but was over at the place where Mac had gone. I knew where I had to go. So, I go flying through the big old house, through the kitchen, opening one of the 2 doors, and through the screen door I saw her!!  Sugar had come home!!  And, Mac was with her! It’s a small fenced place with a small storage building. I was so shocked to see her standing there looking up at me. I thought, ok this is my one chance, don’t blow it, be calm. I didn’t want to scare her in my excitement. Well, I didn’t have to worry about that because when I propped open the door and walked slowly down the steps saying her name over and over, she ran right up the steps, and right in the door with Mac following right behind her! With tears in my eyes again, and this time for pure happiness, I went to the front and let Bell inside. Here we were again, all 3 doggies and me. I immediately left a voice mail on the owner’s cell and called a close neighbor to let her know that Sugar was back. Sugar really didn’t look too bad, a little thinner, and still a little shook up, a few ticks and some small sores, but here she was standing right in front of me! What a happy day!! She didn’t want me to touch her, and wouldn’t let me get close to her, but that was ok with me. She was home, and our friendship would continue once she settled down again. I was content to just sit there and look at the 3 of them, together again.

I thanked God for keeping Sugar safe and showing her the way back home. Our prayers had been answered! The first thing I did after I finally left them, was to go around town and take down the remaining 7 posters. I was smiling all the way home. This was truly the BEST day! I really felt that by helping out that dog from the day before, that Sugar came back to us. What goes around, comes around!