Murdo Girl…Teamwork

Katie had two days to recover followed by two days of tests. She was a real trouper. She never complained from the moment she woke up from her surgery.

Arf did his job well. He alternately comforted her and made her laugh with his antics. He also had passed the test and got to sleep in Katie’s room at night. The only time he left her was when Sam took him for short walks outside. Arf couldn’t wait until he and Katie could start training together. He was really excited about helping her learn to walk.

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Steve was more than a little nervous as he made his way to Dr. Philip’s office. Both doctors would be there. He hoped he could remember all of his questions.

“Hello Steve, thank you for coming. Please have a seat ,” Dr Philip’s said. “We won’t wait for Dr. Jones to arrive. I know how anxious you must be to learn the results of Katie’s tests.”

“Please go on.” Steve hoped he was prepared for whatever he was about to hear.

“I will start by saying that Katie’s condition is a puzzle to us. I know she was just an infant when she was thought to have polio. Am I right to assume that the diagnosis has never been questioned by any other physicians?”

“Katie had the same pediatrician for years. He was the one who made the diagnosis, and no, we…I should say I, didn’t question it. That doctor recently retired and when I took Katie to the new doctor for her yearly exam, he suggested I bring her here.”

“I see.” Doctor Philips was reviewing one of Katie’s tests. “The first thing we did was check Katie’s spine and there appeared to be very little nerve damage. Also, her legs, although she most definitely cannot walk, seem to have gained some muscle strength over the years. Does she engage in some sort of physical activity that would involve her legs? Swimming for instance.”

“I have never seen Katie move her legs,” Steve answered. “We tried braces when she became old enough, but we gave up after it became apparent she wouldn’t be helped by them.”

“She seems like an otherwise determined young lady. Although I’m sure she suffered from a virus that damaged her spine to some degree, there is no physical reason that with a lot of hard work, Katie can’t learn to walk.”

Steve didn’t know how to feel about what he had just learned. Had his little girl lived in a wheelchair all of these years when she was capable of walking? He could feel the tears sting his eyes. He should have known. Afterall, he was her father.

Doctor Philips could read the expression on Jack’s face.

“Don’t blame yourself. You’re a wonderful father, Steve. It was a reasonable conclusion for a doctor to reach back then. Dr. Jones and I were convinced it was another polio like virus that caused her paralysis. The important thing now is to establish where we go from here? I would like to keep Katie and her therapy dog here for one more week.” Doctor Philips went on. “They seem to be a great team and I want Sam to have a few days to work with both of them before Katie goes home. In addition, we will see her for one week out of each month.”

The next morning, Sam and a nurse went to Katie’s room. They decided that some fun along with their training was in order.

“Come on Arf. Are you ready to rock and roll?

***I remembered the command and balanced on my back legs in front of Katie.

“Come on, Katie. Arf is asking you to dance. Take his paws and he’ll show you how it’s done. Nurse Smith, do we have some rock and roll music?”

***When the music started, Katie reached out for my paws and I danced… first pushing her arms back and forth and then carefully picking up one of her feet at a time. Lifting and lowering them five times each.

“Arf could use your help, Katie. His tongue is hanging out. We’ll have to work to even this out,” Sam said.

Katie was laughing and Arf was loving the entertainment he was helping to provide for her. He had practiced with Sam and he knew he must let Katie try to push. “Just prompt her to try,” Sam had said. And then he said the magic words. “Katie needs you.”

Murdo Girl…The wait

Steve felt like his heart was breaking. Katie’s surgery was much more involved than the doctors had anticipated. They told him, in not so many words, that he shouldn’t get his hopes up. It would be a few days before they would be able to tell if the surgery had been successful. Katie’s body needed time to heal. After talking with the doctors, and everyone in the waiting room, Steve went to Katie’s room and waited for them to bring her from recovery.

“Hi Sam, I had forgotten you and Arf would be here waiting for Katie. Listen, I need to tell you that the surgery didn’t go as planned. Everything is really up in the air right now. Please don’t discuss any of this with Katie just yet.”

***I can understand a lot of what humans say, but sometimes it’s too confusing to me. Steve and Sam seemed sad and Katie wasn’t here yet. She should be here so I can help her.

“Here they are,” Steve said as they wheeled Katie’s bed into the room. She was barely awake.

“She will be pretty groggy for a while,” the nurse said. “This might be a good time for you to grab a bite to eat.

I doubt she’ll have a need for her therapy dog, today.”

*** That lady didn’t know what she was talking about. I went over and put my paw on Katie’s hand. Her eyes were closed, but she smiled. Steve told the nurse that Katie would feel better, faster knowing I was there and Sam said I could handle this and he would be back in a couple of hours to take me outside.

Since Katie wouldn’t be allowed visitors for a while, everyone from the ranch decided to head home. I was a little worried they might take me, but guess what? I’m still here.

“There’s my girl,” Steve said as Katie woke up enough to recognize her surroundings. He was grateful for Arf. He would distract Katie from asking questions he wasn’t prepared to answer.

“Daddy, you’re here…and Arf, too! Does Arf get to sleep in my room, now, Daddy?”

“I don’t know, honey. We’ll have to see what your doctors say.” Steve could see his daughter was drifting off again.

“Daddy, I had a dream, and Mommy was in it. I don’t remember her, but I know it was Mommy. She said she loves us.”

Katie was back in dreamland before Steve had to respond.

*** I stayed with Katie most of the next few days. Sam told me I was “on duty” and I know what that means. Steve was there most of the time, too. On the fourth day, they took Katie away for a while and Sam took me for a longer excersize time.

“Maybe you’ll be able to start training with Katie next week,” Sam said. “She won’t be ready for her two weeks at home until the two of you can work together.”

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“Do you think it would be appropriate for us to talk with Miss Bessie today about selling the ranch to me?” Jamie and Brad were on an early morning horseback ride.

“Have you thought about who will do the chores? My hired man, Mark, has been going over each day, but I really need him here.”

“Mark can teach me how to do the chores, it can’t be that hard,” was Jamie’s answer.

Brad had to stifle a grin. We’ll see about that, he thought.

“Okay,” we’ll talk with Miss Bessie this afternoon.”

“Thanks, Brad…I sure hope she’ll sell it to me. If anyone can convince her, it’s you.”

Murdo Girl…Things are changing

Sam, the young man who would be working with Katie and Arf, came to get Arf the next morning for his 2nd day of training. Katie is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, and if all goes well, she and Arf will begin working together the day after her surgery. The research hospital’s doctors said Katie and Arf had a lot of work ahead of them.

“Okay Arf, today you are going to learn what your responsibilities will be when you are with Katie during the night.”

***Sam took me to Katie’s room. I knew it was her’s because it smelled like cherry blossoms. Katie always smells like cherry blossoms. I looked in the bed and Katie wasn’t there. Did she go home? Did she leave me here to fend for myself? Why would she do that? I would never be friends with anyone else or those other dogs…Never! Uh oh, Sam is talking to me.

“Are you listening to me, Arf? You must pay attention. You have a lot to learn. Let’s try the drills you learned yesterday. I want to see if you recall the signs and signals that will apply here in Katie’s room.”

Sam walked around the room and identified where everything was and then went to lie down on the bed.

“Katie is going to be in quite a bit of pain at first, but it’s important she work through it and she’s going to need your help. Okay, are you ready?”

Arf put his paw on Sam’s arm.

“That’s right. You must offer reassurance. The touch of your paw will distract her from the pain. It’s your job to comfort her and also let her know she can do it.”

“There are a lot of things you can help Katie with both here and the two weeks she spends at home. That is, if the surgery is successful. Now, let’s get back to work so we’re ready to help Katie when they bring her back to her room, tomorrow.”

***I worked harder than I ever have and I tried to remember everything. I was going to help Katie learn to walk.

**************************”

“Hello Jamie, it’s good to see you. Everyone around here has missed you,” Brad said as he watched Jamie walk up to the porch. “I’ll get your bags from the car.”

“Thanks, Brad, but don’t get them just yet. I’m not sure I’ll be staying here. Do you have a minute to talk?”

Brad did his best to hide his disappointment.

“Sure, would you like me to ask Alice to bring some coffee out?”

“No thank you, Brad. I want to run something by you before any of the others know I’m here.”

“I’m listening.” Brad was more than a little curious.

“Do you happen to know if Miss Bessie plans to move back to her farm?”

Brad was surprised at Jamie’s question, but it was a subject he had given a lot of thought to.

“Miss Bessie and Katie’s Grandma Helen have become good friends. I would like nothing better than to convince them to make their stay at the ranch permanent. As to your question, I just don’t think Miss Bessie should go back to the farm. It’s a lot for her to take care of.”

“In that case, I need your help.” Jamie had a determined look on her face. “I want you to help me convince her to sell it to me. I applied to do my internship at the veterinary clinic close to town. I just found out I’ve been accepted. I start next week.”

That was the last thing Brad expected to hear.

“We’ll approach Miss Bessie after Katie’s surgery, tomorrow,” Brad said. “We’re all going to Jamestown to be there for her. Would you like to come, too?”

“Of course.”

Jamie began to get excited about the prospect of owning her own little farm, but more than that, she wanted to be among those who would be there to support Katie.

“In that case, you’ll stay here until everything is settled. I’ll get your bags.”

Murdo Girl…Getting started

It was a long drive to Jamestown but Arf and Katie didn’t care. Katie could get through anything if she had her best friend by her side. Steve told his daughter he would spend the night at a local hotel and head back to the ranch the next day. He had work to do. He would be back in two weeks to pick them up.

“Good luck princess,” Steve said. “They will be giving you tests the first week. We’ll all be praying that everything goes well. I love you.”

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Katie stayed in a small room that looked like a dormitory. Inside there was a narrow hospital bed and a small chest for her clothes. Katie was grateful there was a handicap bathroom that included a shower.

“I thought my dog, Arf, was going to sleep in my room with me,”Katie said. “Where is he going to sleep?”

“Arf has to go through a little training before he can sleep in here with you. Don’t worry, he’ll be taken care of and it will only be for a couple of days.”

“But what if he gets scared and runs away? I don’t know what I would do without Arf.”

“He won’t run away…I promise,” said the attendant. “He’ll be away from you for a couple of days while you have some tests run and then you’ll have him back again.”

The next two days were really busy. The research team at the hospital ran more tests than Katie could count. She was almost too busy to miss Arf…Almost.

***I hated being away from Katie, but I figured out they must need me for something or I would still be back at the ranch. No…I would just bide my time. I could see some other dogs were there, too and my digs were pretty nice .

I hope I’m smart enough. Do you think I’m smart enough? I’ll try to understand. I will, I will.

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“Hi honey, wakey, wakey…It’s Daddy. The doctors asked me to come so they could review your tests with me. I have a meeting with them in just a few minutes. When it’s over, I’ll come back and say goodbye.”

“Hello Mr. Martin,” Doctor Jones said. “Please come in an have a seat. I’m going to ask Doctor Philips to join us.”

“The first thing I must tell you is that Katie did not have polio. She had acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) a very rare but serious illness that can cause sudden polio-like symptoms such as weak muscles and paralysis.

There is no specific treatment for AFM. However, some children with AFM have benefited from physical and occupational therapy.

Here at the research hospital, we have developed a unique exercise and stretching formula that we’re hoping can help children like Katie gain the use of their legs. However, something else must be accomplished before we begin treatment.” Dr. Philips paused before going on.

“Katie hasn’t been able to use her legs for almost eight years. There is a significant amount of muscle atrophy and nerve damage. We will have to perform a surgery involving tissue transplants before we’ll know for sure if we can help her. After looking at the tests we ran and examining her, I believe she is a viable candidate…and Steve, at worst, she will suffer a huge disappointment. All surgeries involve risk, but Katie is a strong little girl and I understand she and her dog make a good team.

“When will she have the surgery?” Steve asked.

“In two days,” was the answer. “I’m sorry for such short notice.”

***The first night was bad. It reminded me of the nights I had to sleep in the moving van, only I knew that Katie was close by. The food was pretty good, although it could have used a little more gravy. I saw a river a little ways off and wondered if it had any fish in it.

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On the second morning, a young man came and got me. He put me on a leash. Can you believe that? Oh well, they’ll get to know me and that won’t be an issue.

The young man didn’t take me to Katie. He took me to a big field that had all kinds of stuff in it. It looked like fun. I saw frisbees, balls, ropes, and plastic people dishes. He said the same words to me over and over. I learned really fast that he liked to blow whistles. I hate whistles so I did everything he said so he wouldn’t blow it. I had to wonder what this all had to do with me helping Katie.

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Back at the ranch, Brad was sitting alone on the front porch when Jamie drove up. She and Miss Bessie had agreed that Katie needed Arf more than they did and Arf needed to help Katie.

They were all becoming a family that wanted the best for one another.

The month was over. Jamie had the summer off. Brad couldn’t wait to find out what her plans were.

Murdo Girl…The church on the hill

I want to tell my story. The parts I still remember.

Many things have happened from my January through December.

Some hardy pioneers came to homestead out this way.

They built a little town when they decided they would stay.

First came a general store and a place to shoe their horse.

They quickly built a jailhouse… after the saloon, of course.

They homesteaded for years before taking ownership,

And discovered what they needed most, was a special place to worship.

I wasn’t built on Main Street or close to town at all.

I was built upon a hill as was the protocal.

There was wedding after wedding here. I can’t count that high.

Looking forward to their future, a strong knot they hoped to tie.

Some unions were quite joyous, some were crazy from the start.

But who am I to judge what is in the human heart.

I watched young folks raise their kids. (Those who brought them here to church.)

Some found what they were looking for…and the find was worth the search.

Some denied the truth and struck out on their own.

But most were true believers no matter what church they called home.

All of them are gone now, but the music didn’t stop.

Now they’re with their Savior in the mansion over the hilltop

Photographs by

Dianna Kenobbie Diehm

Murdo Girl…Another adventure

Katie’s father, Steve, had been working behind the scenes doing everything he could to get Katie into a research program that was offered by a hospital in the adjacent state. Katie’s pediatrician had recommended it. He helped Steve complete all of the paperwork and he gave Katie the required tests. Something about Katie’s condition just didn’t fit the profile of a victim of polio.

Steve was coming to the ranch on Saturday to pick his daughter up for her first two weeks at the research center, and he had a big surprise for her.

***I know I’m just a dog, but I can tell when something is up. Everyone is bustling around and I hear them saying Katie’s name all of the time. Miss Bessie and Miss Helen bought her some pretty new dresses and new shoes. Why would she need new stuff just to play on the ranch? We spend our days having picnics under the tree or I push Katie around on the porch in her chair with wheels on it..

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I made sure I stayed close to my new friend. I knew she needed me.

“Oh, Katie, you look so beautiful. I can’t wait until your daddy sees you in your new dress.” Grandma Helen gleefully clapped her hands. “You don’t look very happy. What’s wrong, honey?’

“I want to try to get better,” Katie said. “But I don’t want to leave Arf. He needs me.”

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“You’re only going to be gone for two weeks at a time, honey. Then you will be home and you can play with Arf all day long. That is, until school starts. Your daddy has worked hard to make this happen. You must be grateful.”

“Sometimes I dream that I can walk,” Grandma Helen.

***Steve got there just in time for a quick lunch before heading back to Jamestown where the research hospital is. I stayed at Katie’s feet the whole time. I knew that she was going to leave. People I love usually do.

Steve got into the truck and Brad lifted Katie up and strapped her in beside him.

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I stood there with my tail between my legs.

All of a sudden, I heard Steve yell, “Arf! Arf! come on Arf! You get the seat by the window!”

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***I couldn’t believe it. I was going where Katie was going. We were going to be together wherever we were going. I love you, Steve!

“Now, how are you going to take care of a dog at the research hospital? They’ll tell you to turn that truck around and go back home,” Miss Bessie said.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” Steve was grinning from ear to ear. “Arf got accepted into the program, too. They’ll be training together. It’s what you call, Animal Assisted Therapy, or AAT. Patients work more diligently and try harder when they work with a dog. Katie will need to work hard and the doctors and I believe Arf will be a great partner for her.”

“Isn’t that wonderful?” Miss Bessie said, and then added. “My…Steve is handsome. This is the first time I’ve seen him without his hardhat on.”

“And he’s such a good father,” Grandma Helen said. “He asked me not to say anything while they were still here, but there is a good chance our little Katie will need to have some extensive surgery.”

Murdo Girl…Steve explains

In the next few days, Brad couldn’t get his mind off of poor little Katie. She was such a happy little girl and so sweet. If only she could walk. He really wanted to know if she could be helped and he was determined to find out. He told Helen the next time Steve called, he wanted to talk to him.

The opportunity arose the very next evening.

“Brad, Steve is on the phone. I told him you wanted to talk to him.” Helen handed Brad the telephone and then sat down nearby in order to hear what she could of the conversation.

“Hi Steve.” Brad wasn’t as careful with his words as he should have been. “I hope you’ve been able to successfully deal with whatever has taken you away from your daughter.”

“I know how this must look Brad, but I’m here because of Katie. I didn’t want to say anything to Helen or Katie until I knew for sure Katie would be accepted by the hospital doing research on her condition. When I got the call, it was necessary to get here as soon as possible. I’m coming to get Katie this weekend. She will be here for two weeks and then come home for two weeks. This schedule could go on for quite some time.”

Brad felt terrible that he had doubted Steve’s dedication to his daughter. Don’t worry about a thing, Steve. I’m sure it took a lot of work on your part to get Katie accepted. I have to say that I really admire you for persevering. I insist that Helen continue to stay here at the ranch and that you and Katie come here for the two weeks she gets to be home.

“That’s very generous of you, Brad. That will take a load off my mind. Is Miss Bessie there? I need to talk to her about finishing up the barn.”

“Don’t worry about it. There will be time for that later.” Brad felt he had to bring up something else.

“There is one problem you’ll have to deal with, Steve. You’re going to have a heck of a time separating Katie and Arf. They make each other happy and they’re pretty much attached at the hip.”

“I thought as much. I might have a solution to that problem.”

Murdo Girl…Arf..I can help

Miss Bessie and Arf took a trip to town to try to cheer themselves up. They were concerned because Steve and his daughter, Katie, had not shown up at the farm the day before, as promised. A lady at the park knew where Katie’s grandmother lived so Miss Bessie and Arf went there hoping to learn what had happened. To their surprise, Katie, in her wheelchair, opened the door. Her Grandma Helen was there as well and invited them in.“I still can’t believe I misplaced your phone number,” Katie’s grandma said.”I understand,” Miss Bessie assured her. “I lose phone numbers all the time, but please tell me…is Steve alright?””As far as I know, he’s fine. All I can tell you is he got a phone call the night before last that seemed to upset him. He asked if I felt well enough to watch over Katie for a few days while he took care of something out of town. Then he asked me to call you and tell you he would be in touch in a few days.””Is it like him to be this secretive?” Miss B asked.”Not at all. We both went through a lot when my daughter left and we are very protective of each other. We have to be for Katie’s sake.””How are you feeling, Helen? If you need a few more day’s rest, Katie can come to the farm. She would enjoy being with Arf and as you can see, he’s enthralled with your granddaughter. I’m sure Steve wouldn’t mind.”

Arf and Miss Bessie
“I’m very tempted to take you up on your offer to help,” Helen responded. “My blood pressure has been giving me fits and poor Katie has been confined to the house.””Well then that settles it! If I may borrow your phone, I’ll give our friend Brad Humbolt a call. He can help us with Katie’s wheel chair. He has a truck. I’m afraid my little car wouldn’t suffice.”No one had to ask Katie if she approved of the plan. She and Arf were both obviously looking forward to spending time with each other.***I couldn’t believe that Katie was going to be staying with us, and as it turned out, when Brad got to Miss Helen’s, he insisted that all of us go stay at his ranch where everyone would be more comfortable and have the help of his cook and housekeeper. The only problem was getting in touch with Steve. Miss Helen decided to stay at her house until he called, and if it was still going to be a while before he returned, Brad would come back and get her. It wasn’t long before all of us were settled in at the ranch. Brad’s hired hand, Mark and I went to Miss B’s to do her chores each morning and I spent the rest of the day watching over Katie.On the second day, Miss Helen heard from Steve. He said it was going to be necessary for him to be gone for at least another week. He didn’t offer any other information, but said not to worry about him. He was relieved that Katie and Miss Helen would be with Miss B and Brad. And of course, me, Arf…Brad’s house has a big porch that goes all the way around the house and I pushed Katie all the way around it. Miss Alice, the cook, brought us picnic lunches and Katie could usually sneak a cookie to me. She called me “cookie dog.” I love Katie and I love to hear her laugh. Every day, she seems happier which makes me happy, too.One day, I heard Brad ask Miss Helen why Katie couldn’t walk.“It’s very rare for infants to contract polio,” Helen said. “But that is what happened to Katie. She was only four months old. The age most children get their first vaccination. In Katie’s case, her legs became paralyzed.””She seems to be a real trooper,” Brad observed as he watched Katie throwing the frisbee to Arf. “I would never want to offend you or Steve, but I have to ask the question. Has she been examined by the best doctors available?””I can’t speak for Steve, but believe me, I’m not offended. Katie was given the best care available at the time, but that was eight years ago. I’ve often wondered if there is new technology that could help Katie. I think Steve feels rather guilty because he can’t afford insurance that could help cover the cost of pursuing something like that.”Brad watched Katie and Arf playing together for the longest time. Surely something could be done.***I hope Brad is right. Maybe there is a way. Maybe Katie can learn to walk, and maybe I can help her.

Murdo Girl…Looking for Katie

It was a puzzle. Why hadn’t Steve shown up for work? The plan was for him to bring his daughter, Katie, with him because her grandmother, who usually watches her was getting over an illness.

Arf and Katie had really taken to each other and Arf was devastated when it became apparent his new friend wasn’t going to come.”

“Well, Arf,” Miss Bessie said. “We can’t put it off any longer. We must do our chores. It worries me that Steve didn’t give us a call to let us know why he wouldn’t be here, today. I sure hope he and Katie are okay.”

***I’m a pretty smart dog, but things happen to me that I just can’t understand. I miss Jamie, but I love my new life with Miss Bessie, too. It makes me feel good to be able to help her out with things, and I think she feels safer with me around. She’s getting to be pretty old to be living on a farm by herself.

“You know what, Arf? I’m getting to be pretty old to be living on a farm by myself. I’ve always known the day would come when it would no longer be safe for me to live alone here, but where would I go? I can’t think of one place that I would be as happy as I am here, so I guess I’ll just stay where I am. Besides, for now at least, I have you to keep me company. Come on, let’s go see what’s growing in the garden.”

***It was the longest day. I never left Miss Bessie’s side. It seemed that one day, I had all kinds of people around me, and the next, it was just back to Miss Bessie and me.

“I think we should go into town tomorrow, Arf. It will get our minds off of things. It’s always good to change the scenery when you have a heavy heart and worries on your mind. We can take our eggs to the General Store and sell them. Then we can go across the street to the little food stand that sells the delicious fried chicken and honey biscuits. Sounding good to you Arf?

***Was she kidding? my mouth was watering. I love chicken and biscuits.

The next day, we did just as Miss Bessie said we would. We went to the General Store to sell our eggs and then ate our chicken and biscuits at the park in the center of downtown. I even found a little boy to throw the frisbee to me while his mom talked to Miss Bessie.

“You are not going to believe this, Arf. That woman knows Katie’s grandmother. Remember? She cares for her while Steve works. The nice woman gave me the grandmother’s address and we’re going to go see her. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Katie was there?”

***I had a funny feeling when we walked up to the front door. I know I’m just a dog, but It wasn’t a very nice place and Katie was a really nice little girl.

Miss Bessie knocked on the door and it was the longest time before it opened…

I couldn’t believe it. There was Katie in her wheel chair.

“Oh, Arf,” she said as she turned to look behind her. “Grandma, this is Miss Bessie and Arf. Can they come in?”

“Goodness yes,” the lady said. An older woman barely five feet tall came bustling toward the door. She had bright red hair and wore a turquoise dress with matching long earrings.

“I’m so sorry. I have looked high and low for the phone number Steve gave to me. He made me promise to call you and explain what happened. Oh dear…you must have been so concerned.”

Katie held her arms out to Arf who didn’t take much encouraging before running to her side.

“Please tell me what happened Mrs ?”

“Please call me Helen. Katie’s mother is my daughter. She left without a word, almost eight years ago. It hasn’t been easy for Steve, but he has done his best to care for Katie. I try to help, but it gets more difficult for me each year.”

“I understand,” Miss Bessie said. “Please tell me what happened. Where is Steve now?”

“Um…he was suddenly called away,” Helen said, nervously.

Murdo Girl…

A lot is happening in the world of Miss Bessie and Arf. Steve, the carpenter, is doing the repairs on the barn and today, he brought his eight year old daughter, Katie, with him. Jamie went back to college for a month and to Miss Bessie’s delight, left Arf with her. Brad is still a mystery. He had just arrived at Miss Bessie’s house and she wasn’t wasting any time trying to get information.

“Do you have any idea why Jamie would seem so preoccupied, Brad?”

“Not a clue, Miss Bessie,” he said. “Right before she left, she was talking about what she might want to do this summer. I invited her to come back to the ranch and stay.”

“I’m assuming she was hesitant. I’m also pretty sure it offended you when she didn’t jump at your generous invitation.”

“You have pretty much nailed the whole situation, Miss Bessie.”

“Let me explain, Brad. Jamie doesn’t know you that well. You have your cook and housekeeper living there so it’s not a case of inappropriateness, but three months is a long time to commit to living somewhere. A girl needs more than a moments notice.”

“I think I get what you’re saying, Miss Bessie. She also probably wants to scout out possible places to do her internship in the fall.”

“How rude were you, Brad?” Miss B was giving him a look.

“Rude enough,” he answered. “I’m not sure it was a good idea anyway.”

Brad changed the subject before Miss Bessie had time to dig a little deeper. He hadn’t noticed Steve who was getting his tools out of the truck.”Who is the little girl petting Arf?”

***If only dogs could talk. The world would be a much better place. In the meantime, I’m over here falling in love with Katie. She seems to really like me, too. Miss Bessie interrupted my thoughts.

She asked Steve to bring Katie over to the porch.

“Steve, do you know Brad Humbolt?” Steve is repairing all the damage to the barn.”

“Yes, I believe we’ve met,” Brad said. “Hello Steve…it’s been a while.”

“Katie is Steve’s daughter. She’s going to spend the morning with Arf and me.”

Brad and Steve nodded hello to each other and then Brad said he had to get back to the ranch.

Miss B reached for Katie’s hand. “I’m so happy to have you here, Katie. I think Arf is too.”

**I was crossing my paws hoping Miss B would let me stick around with Katie and her. I have never played with a little human before and Katie even has her own chair with wheels. I pushed her back and forth on the porch and she laughed. She threw the frisbee to me a whole bunch of times. Even though she couldn’t throw it very far, we both had fun. And then…when Miss B brought lemonade and cookies out, Katie dropped a whole half a cookie under the table, right next to me. It was peanut butter…my favorite kind.

When Steve was ready to go, Miss Bessie told him how much we enjoyed having Katie here and that he could bring her anytime.

“Thank you, Miss B. Her grandmother usually watches her, but she wasn’t feeling well today. If I need to bring Katie here, I will call first… like I did this morning.”

“Please bring Katie back tomorrow. It will give the poor woman another day of rest. Does your wife work, too, Steve?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t seen or heard from her since shortly after Katie was born. See you in the morning Miss Bessie.”

“Okay, see you tomorrow, Katie. We’ll do something fun.”

After everyone left, Miss Bessie fed me supper and then she ate her meal. “Well Arf,” she said. “Now we have two mysteries to solve…and a little matchmaking to do.”

**I heard her, but I was almost asleep. Katie was coming tomorrow.

This morning, after we finished the chores, Miss B and I sat on the front porch and waited for Steve’s truck to pull in. I was excited for Katie to get there.

But Katie and Steve never came.