Missing: One Stuffed Dog, Probably Water Logged and Smelly

Pumpkin really loves dogs. She loves real dogs to the extent that she can rattle off extensive lists of dog breeds and facts. As an extension, she also likes stuffed dogs – so much so that she has somewhere in the neighborhood of eleventy-billion of them (give or take a couple). When a gift-giving occasion approaches, she asks for stuffed dogs. When she has extra money to spend, she opts to buy stuffed dogs. There are stuffed dogs all over the house – but they’re what she loves. They all have names – she remembers them all.

As you would imagine, sometimes she takes the dogs with her. She does a good job in varying which dog she chooses – a while back, she had this method of closing her eyes, leaning back on her bed (where all eleventy billion stuffed dogs reside – really, there’s hardly any room for Pumpkin in there), and selecting the first dog she reaches. She’s not so choosy; she loves them all.

Sometimes the dogs go to school with her. Usually the dogs come home with her.

Yesterday, one didn’t.

Yesterday, she apparently left Patches in the sandbox during recess. When I got home, she was sitting with grandpa at the dining table making “Missing Puppy” signs to hang up around school. The signs noted that Patches was a “shnowzer” (sic), with blue eyes and a gray belly. In a six year old’s scrawl, Patches’ last known whereabouts were detailed, along with a plea to “return Patches as soon as possible.” Her earnestness and devotion to Patches gnawed at me. The Princess had even jumped in to help with the sign making process.

Grandpa headed home, we sat down to dinner, and outside the rain pummeled down. It was raining so hard and so furiously that the rain came down sideways. Inside, there were some waterworks as well, as Pumpkin started worrying about Patches outside in the rain in the sandbox. It seemed to ease her mind when I left a voice mail for the school, letting them know that we were on the lookout for a stuffed schnauzer. She became distracted, playing with her sister and carrying on with normal kid stuff until bedtime.

Around bedtime – when the second wave of tears hit – I realized that maybe, despite the rain I should have driven the girls to the school to see if Patches was still outside. That maybe I should not have been deterred by torrential sideways rains (or tornado watches) and just gone to look for her puppy. It hadn’t occurred to me earlier in the evening and by the time I was tucking kids in for the night, it was really too late to go stomping around a sandbox in the rainy night to find a stuffed dog.

And now today I have been thinking of Pumpkin and her dog all day. I have no idea if she found him yet or if she did not – and if she did, I can only imagine he is smelly and soggy and gross and will need a trip in the washing machine on the gentle cycle. If she can’t find him, I wonder if she will be content with her eleventy billion (minus one) other dogs, or if Patches somehow held a bigger place in her heart.

It’s weird what happens when you become a parent – when your children’s sadness becomes a weight in your heart. Sometimes stuff happens, sometimes toys get left in the rain. It will be a lesson to her, I’m sure – a lesson on taking care of her things and consequences for when she doesn’t. But in the meantime, her sad makes me sad. I’d never imagined that at 35, I’d spend hours of my day, thinking about the whereabouts of a stuffed animal. And somehow, despite the weirdness, it feels totally normal.


About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.


  1. Fingers crossed that someone noticed Patches out in the sandbox, and brought him inside before it got soggy. Hope Pumpkin returns home today with Patches in tow.

    Being a Mom softens us up around the edges. 🙂

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