"Hello, Marianne? This is Gary Riddle from the ward. Listen, I know your daughter Rachel has been over to visit our new puppies a few times lately. I asked her if your family was interested in getting one and she said she didn't think you could afford one. The mother, Snowball has had a few liters and bless her heart, they have been big ones. At between $300 and $400 a puppy she has paid for a good portion of our daughter's mission. This last liter was 8 pups with 7 surviving. We feel so blessed, we want to share those blessings. My wife and I would like to offer your family a puppy as a gift, if you would like. Rachel is fond of one little male in particular. He has pretty markings a with a big black spot on his back. Why don't you talk it over with Dee and let me know what you'd like to do. The puppies will be ready to leave their mother right at Christmas time."
I was really touched by such generosity. the Riddles were offering us an expensive little dog for free. They had received so many blessings and they wanted to "pay it forward". I had wanted to give the kids a dog for years but so many things got in the way. We had never lived in a home with a fence for one thing, and now that big obstacle was gone. Dee and I talked it over and decided the time was right. A few days later we visited the Riddle's home and met our Samwise for the first time.
Amy Riddle had spread a brown blanket on the family room floor. There were 7 tiny, mostly white Jack Russell Terriers wriggling around, sniffing, grunting, and most with their eyes closed. There in the middle of them was one up on his feet taking wobbly steps. His nose was in the air sniffling and reaching, looking for his mother, I am sure. "That's him," Amy said, pointing to the one on his feet. "That's the one Rachel likes." I scooped him up in my hands. He was so tiny that he fit in one hand snugly. He looked at me with his big browns eyes and sniffed in my scent. Then he grunted and let out a little puppy yip. I fell in love at once!
"I am so excited to have this little dog in our lives!" Dee told me a few days before Christmas. We had sneaked out to buy a little kennel and some other dog supplies, toys and food. We had called the Riddles and asked if we could pick the dog up on Christmas morning. Brother Riddle wouldn't hear of it. He wanted to bring our puppy to us with his children. He wanted them to feel part of the joy of giving. So it was arranged, by 9:00 a.m. Christmas morning our lives would never be the same.
I was so anxious as Dee and I cooked breakfast for the kids while they we're all occupied with various gifts that had been opened earlier. It felt like 9:00 would never come. I finally spied them, Gary, Josh, Ryan, and Amy walking up the street. Amy was carrying a Santa hat in her arms which was lumpy and wiggling. Cute! Our little puppy was arriving all wrapped up in red fur, safe and warm! within moments a knock was heard at our door and I sent Diana to answer it. As the door was opened the Riddles all shouted" Merry Christmas!" and Amy held the Santa hat out to Diana. The other kids had gathered to see who was at the door while it slowly dawned on Diana what she was holding. The general reaction was one of disbelief. A few phrases such as "are you kidding?" and "I knew something was up!" were uttered. Rachel was stunned. Her friend Amy had told her, and truthfully so, that all of the other puppies had been claimed and the one she liked was being held for a family on Christmas day. Rachel had been so disappointed! But now, as Diana shared the chubby, grunting pup around, Rachel's smile was huge! Dee and I were so happy to have been able to give our children this moment. Little did we know how much joy and laughter that little dog would bring to our home!
I cannot go into the details of how we lost him this last week. It is entirely too painful. Just when I think I have cried my last tear, a flood of new ones will begin when I least expect it. I could not possibly tell you of the pain and loneliness we all are feeling. There is quite simply a huge hole in my heart. The quiet in the house is unbearable. I find myself talking to our Samwise like I always have when I was home alone with him, only he is not there. I miss his begging brown eyes staring up at me when I am cooking. I reach to pet him where he would usually lay on the sofa next to me. I catch myself saying, "I'll be back!" when I am leaving the house. He is so much a part of our family and always will be.
Our hearts are broken.
Goodbye Sweet Boy!
'til we meet again!