“Dog Lost in the Rain,” Ensign, Jan. 1976, 53–54
I was enjoying the beauties of a storm brewing on a scenic autumn afternoon when Steve, my 14-year-old son, came running in, exclaiming that he almost got soaked coming from the school bus. In the same breath he asked, “Are the puppies here yet?”
Our two small dachshunds, Ché and Chispa, are an important part of our family. Chispa (Spanish for “little spark”) was expecting her new puppies any moment. She was unusually large for her small frame and short legs in this pregnancy, and we hoped the puppies would come without serious difficulty.
Time passed quickly as I worked in my kitchen, preparing the evening meal. Steve came in with an expression of concern and dismay on his face. “Chispa is gone!” His words tumbled out. “I’ve called and searched … she never leaves … she’s too heavy to go far … maybe the puppies are on the way … I can’t find her!”
The storm was on us now, and the rain obscured the afternoon light. Chispa had to be found and brought in from the wet or she would chill. We hurried out into the rain, forgetting our coats.
Calling and clapping our hands, we searched the yard. Steve got on his bicycle and rode to all neighboring areas, and I scanned the hillside and the steep ravines, knowing that Chispa could not possibly have descended in her heavy condition. Still, no responding bark from this small dog.
We got the father dog, Ché, to search the area. He sniffed diligently and always came prancing and wagging his tail to the same spot—the edge of the steep hillside in our yard. We could not see her; she would bark if she were there, and besides, she just didn’t go down the hill anymore; she was too big—almost dragging.
The rain was pelting us as we stood there, realizing the dog was gone. Perhaps she had run away to die; perhaps she had been hit by a car, or maybe the puppies had come too soon for her to return home. They would all die in the cold and rain. Even with the best care, in past litters, some had not survived. I saw the misery on Steve’s face with the rain dripping down his pale cheeks. “What shall we do?” he shouted through the wind and soaking rain.
“I think we had better ask for help,” I replied.
We went into the house together and knelt in prayer. In simple, urgent words we explained our need to be guided to find Chispa and save the new, delicate puppies soon to be born. Then we arose and went outside again.
It abruptly occurred to me that we had forgotten about the newspapers for Steve’s route, and they were unprotected in the rain. I grabbed my raincoat and ran through the water puddled in the driveway to drag the heavy bundle into the garage. In those few moments I was soaked through my coat. Picking up Steve’s rain jacket, I quickly ran into the backyard. He was nowhere to be seen. There was no answer to my calling and shouting.
Suddenly, in the dim light, I could see a yellow shirt coming up the steep hillside. There was the bedraggled boy. Wet, grimy, and smeared with mud, he was gently carrying a very dirty mother dog in his arms. He called to me now, puffing as he approached the top of the hill. His wide grin assured me she was all right. Chispa looked at me with deep, brown eyes, too weak to respond further.
Earlier, Steve had searched along the trees and the ditch with the heavy oak brush, but had not heard or seen her. This time, when he went back to look again, he heard the slight rustle of the dog tags on her collar and found her lying exhausted in the leaves. She had dug a small depression in the earth and covered herself with dirt and leaves, apparently to keep warm while she waited for the puppies to arrive. Yet even with her best natural instinct it would have been difficult for such tiny new pups to survive.
“I know Heavenly Father is my friend and I can call on him and he answers,” Steve said gratefully. “I couldn’t see her before … but this time I went right to the spot and there she was!”
As we watched the miracle of birth within the hour, and saw five sleek and shining healthy puppies squirm around their mother, Chispa looked up with grateful eyes and seemed to thank us as she licked the tiny puppies.
The wonder of new life and the gratitude for the perfect harmony of God’s beautiful creations strengthened my awareness of his love for us as I thought of the scriptures, “and not one sparrow shall fall to the ground … nor a hair from the head shall go unnoticed by me.” (See Matt. 10:29–31.)