It’s been a busy few days, but I’ve finally caught up to Arf and Annie.
The next day, Katie and Clark were ready to start rehearsing early. Katie didn’t have school due to teacher’s meetings and Jamie was off so she wanted to do some of the chores around the farm. Clark would be starting school next week and she was going to have to get used to doing more. That is unless she decided to lease the farm out.
“I’m so proud of you both and of course Arf and Annie,” Mrs. Langford said when they were taking one of their breaks. “You two have become so much more confident in your abilities. All that’s left is a little fine tuning and you’re ready to put on a performance that will knock everyone’s socks off.”
“I’m a little nervous,” Katie said, “But I’m excited, too. Brad said that he was going to have a surprise for us and it’s about a special place for us to put on our show.”
“Well, I hope when you leave, you’ll still be able to come here often. Do you know when you’ll be moving, Katie?” Mr. Langford asked.
“What do you mean Mr. Langford?” I’m never moving from here.”
Mr. Langford realized that he may have given Katie some news that she hadn’t heard before.
“Oh,” he said. “I think I must be mistaken about that, dear Katie. “I probably dreamed I heard something when I didn’t.”
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Arf: Uh Oh, maybe that’s what my dog senses were telling me. Well, if Katie moves, I move. I won’t make any bones about it, either. I can see Annie over by Clark. I’ve got to find out if she knows where I’m moving to.
Annie: Why haven’t I heard anything about this? I’m usually the first one to sense something is wrong or different and then I go in pursuit of finding out what it is. I hope I’m not losing my human sense. Here comes Arf. Maybe he knows something.
“Mommy,” Katie asked Dina when she came to get her from rehearsal. “I put out of my mind that you and daddy were talking about moving. At least Daddy was. I was hoping you would both forget about that stupid idea. I thought we were all happy here.”
“Nothing is decided honey. We’re just talking about different possibilities. Don’t worry too much, okay?”
Katie obviously didn’t take Dina’s words to heart.
“Mommy, if daddy finds a new place for us to live, will you for sure come too?”
Dina wasn’t ready for that question.
“Whatever you and Daddy do,” Katie blurted out. “I’ve decided I’m staying right here. Even if you both leave. I’m staying here.”
With that, Katie ran to find her Grandma Helen. It occurred to Dina that she had never seen her daughter run that fast before.
Arf: I was right behind my Katie. I knew she was upset. She has so many humans here at the ranch who love her and are trying so hard to help her get better. I love all these people too, but I will stick with Katie no matter what.
Jamie was enjoying spending time at the farm. She hadn’t done the chores in a long time and she hadn’t realized how much she missed it. She was bringing a bucket of milk from the barn to the house when she saw Steve drive up.
“Here Jamie. Let me carry that for you. I was hoping you would have a few minutes to talk this morning.”
“Sure Steve. I’m not going to pretend I don’t know what you want to discuss with me,” Jamie said as she handed the heavy bucket over to him. “Let’s go inside and make a cup of coffee. We can bring it out to the porch and enjoy the morning while we’re talking.”
When they got their coffee and had engaged in some small talk, Steve broached the subject he so wanted to talk about.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Jamie. I have spent the last nine years now, doing everything I could to help my daughter. Every decision I have made has been with her well being in mind. I’ve made some good ones and a few bad ones, but my devotion to her has never wavered.”
“I know, Steve. No one could possibly question that. I get the feeling the decision you’re trying to make now is a tough one. I hope you are considering all aspects of it. You’re taking a pretty big risk. Don’t do it without thinking of what the consequences might be.”
“Believe me I’ve thought of nothing else. I am going to find a place for my family to live independently. The time at the ranch has been the answer to my prayers, but it was never intended to be a permanent situation. Katie is doing so well. She’s back in school and beginning to make some friends her age. She’s even getting involved in different school activities. I want to encourage that by moving closer to town and her school. She will have her own home to bring friends to and her life will be more like theirs. I think that’s important.”
“You haven’t mentioned Dina in all of this,” Jamie said. “How does she feel about moving?”
“She doesn’t appear to know how she feels. I have to do this no matter what Dina decides.”
“Are you absolutely sure the whole point of this ultimatum isn’t to force her to make a commitment?”
“I want Dina to commit to something. Katie and I need to know if she’s going to stick around for good this time. We’ve waited a long time. A very long time.”
“I have a similar decision to make,” Jamie said. “There is no hurry, Steve, so please take your time. I think in fairness to Dina, you need to let her get used to the idea. She hasn’t done anything but dote on Katie ever since she came back into your lives. But if you do decide to move, you can lease the farm. It would help me if I didn’t have to worry about the place. It has never really worked out for me to own it. Maybe some day we can work out something and you can buy it from me.”
” Thank you, Jamie,” Steve said as he got up to take is coffee cup back into the kitchen. “I’ll take your advice, but I already know what my decision will be. This farm is the perfect solution. I have to believe that.”
That night Arf and Annie got together at the squirrel window in Brad’s study.
(Full disclosure. This is not Arf and Annie, but an example of a dog’s squirrel angst.)
Arf: Katie might be moving and I will go with her. I’ll make them take me with them. She will be more upset than Steve and Dina realize and she’ll need me. It’s such a shame. You and I work so well together.
Annie: You’re right. You will have to go with her, but didn’t you say she told her mother she wasn’t leaving the ranch? Do you think there’s a possibility Steve will be leaving alone?
Arf: I hadn’t even thought about that. Another defining moment for this family coming right up. We have to do something, Annie. That family can’t split up no matter what.
Annie: You’re right. We have to go to Katie and Clark now, but let’s think about this and meet back here in the morning. Maybe there will be a few squirrels to watch, too.