Bessie gathered the eggs and fed the chickens while she waited for Arf’s owner to come and get him. As she walked back to the house, her heart was heavy. As always, Arf was by her side. As always? It had only been a few days since he had shown up at her door, yet it seemed like they had been together forever.
The Johnsons, Arf’s owners, had a daughter in college. Jamie was her name. She was headed home for spring break and would be stopping by to pick up Arf on the way.
“Oh Arf,” Bessie said. “I do hope Brad gets here before that young girl does. I’m not sure I can bear to let you go.
I think I hear his truck coming now.”
I ran to greet Brad and then back to Miss Bessie, back to Brad and back to Miss Bessie. I was really nervous. Wait! I think I hear Jamie’s Jeep. Yes…Jamie is here. I’ll run out to greet her.
Jamie…it was Jamie. She found me.
Brad walked over to Jamie and began to introduce himself. Bessie ran to the kitchen to make coffee. She still looked sad.
“We’ve been expecting you Miss Johnson. I’m Brad Holcomb a friend of Miss Bessie’s. I believe she went inside to make some coffee.”
“Please call me Jamie,” she said as she knelt down to makeover Arf. “I didn’t think we would ever see you again sweet boy. You look great!”
“Let’s go inside.” Brad led the way. ” I know Miss Bessie is anxious to meet you.”
Jamie walked into the kitchen and went straight to Miss Bessie. “I can’t thank you enough for watching over Arf.”
Miss Bessie nodded her head. She didn’t trust herself to say anything. Instead, she brought out a plate of cookies and poured coffee for everyone.
I laid on the floor between the two ladies. My head was spinning. Can a dog’s head spin?
“Do you have any idea how Arf got this far from home?” Brad asked.
“Yes. We finally figured it out. It seems he got caught in a moving van. The movers called the people who were transferring to a town near here and said a dog had gotten out of the van when they arrived. They said he ran off before they could catch him. Since none of us knew each other. It took a while for us to tie it all together.”
“You ran a long way, Arfie,” Jamie said. “I don’t know if we would have found you if Miss Bessie hadn’t called.”
Miss Bessie didn’t say anything right away. I wondered why…
“It was the right thing to do.” Her voice wasn’t much louder than a whisper.
Jamie looked at me. She had a sad look on her face, too. What’s up with all the sadness? I’m the happiest dog ever. I have Jamie and Miss Bessie and Brad. Three humans to throw me frisbees and make over me day and night. I wonder if Brad fishes. I love to go fishing.
“Miss Johnson…Jamie, do you have a place to stay tonight? It’s far too late to get back on the road, today.” Miss Bessie was pouring more coffee. It’s quite a distance between towns around here.”
Jamie looked surprised. “I hadn’t really thought beyond getting here to pick up Arf. I’m not in a real hurry to get to California. My parents are on a two week cruise. Can you give me the name of a hotel nearby? One that allows pets?”
“Nonsense,” Miss Bessie said. “You can stay right here. “I have a little spare bedroom and it will only take an hour or so to clear some things out to make room for you.”
Brad winked at Miss Bessie. He had seen that spare room. So had I.
“I have a better idea,” Brad offered. “I have a horse ranch just a few miles from here. It’s just me, the housekeeper, a cook, and the hired hand rambling around in that big old house. You’re more than welcome to stay as long as you’d like.”
Jamie thought for a minute.
“Well, I guess I’ll take you up on your generous invitation. It seems to be the best solution.”
Jamie looked happy, so I was happy. Brad looked happy, too. But Miss Bessie still looked sort of puzzled.
“May I make another suggestion?” She asked.
Miss Bessie looked at me. I think she was trying to get up the nerve to say something.
“Tomorrow is the big Easter festival in town. I was planning to enter Arf in the doggie Easter Parade. I’ve uh, spent a lot of time making a costume for him to wear. I would be very grateful if you would consider staying over until Monday so that we could all go. Maybe you would let Arf stay with me tonight so I could put the finishing touches on his costume, and get him ready in the morning.”
Brad looked very surprised, but he didn’t say anything. Miss Bessie shot him a look that told him to be quiet.
“That sounds like fun,” Jamie said. “And of course Arf can stay the night with you. We’ll have plenty of time together, later.”
After Jamie and Brad left, Miss Bessie got all kinds of stuff out of her sewing room.
“We’re going to have to work fast Arf,” she said. “Do you have any ideas as to what you would want to dress up like?”