I wanted to share a story with you about our Toy Poodle, Madelyn, aka, Maddie. This happened on December 16, 2005 and will stay forever in my memory. But before I start the story, I wanted to let you know that my birthday is in a couple of weeks. If you feel so inclined, you can help me celebrate by supporting one of my favorite causes…the animals. I have a page at the Waupaca County Humane Society where you can make a small donation (even $1 helps) or I suppose a big donation if you just won the lottery. Here’s the link and Many Thanks. Waupaca County Humane Society
It was a cold December evening, about 6:30 pm. I was home alone nursing a cold with the dogs while Becky was at an office Christmas party. I opened the patio door to shake off a rug when Maddie decided to dart out the door running like a maniac towards the barn. Normally, this would not be a big deal. She would run down to the barn, snatch a couple of horse apples and come right back to me. Not on this very cold night.
You see, we had already received about 2 feet of snow that year and paths were plowed to the barn and down the driveway. Because the snow was so high, it was a bit like a tunnel to an 8 pound dog. And did I mention she is white? Have you ever tried to find a white dog in white snow? By the time I grabbed my coat, a flashlight and boots she was nowhere to be found.
How was I to find a white poodle in the snow? I looked down and saw her foot prints in the snow and followed them down our long driveway to Pleasant Drive. With all the snow piled up in drifts she was confused and just kept running down the driveway. At the end of the driveway I couldn’t tell which way she had gone. There were many prints and it was hard to know if they were hers or a rabbits. After about 30 minutes I got really scared. She had never done this before. I began to think of all the horrible things that could happen to a little dog like her; owls, coyotes, cars. I tried to communicate with her but was too upset to get anything. Fear had closed my heart, the key to communication. I searched and searched and searched not even noticing how cold my face and hands were. At one point I fell down on my knees, crying out, sobbing, “not Maddie, not Maddie”. I was angry with God.
I called my friend Jodi who arrived about 8 pm to help me search. You know who your true friends are when they will drop everything, drive 45 minutes and come help you search for your dog in freezing weather. And it was cold. I kept watching the temperature in my car drop, it was 12 degrees last time I looked. More panic. Even if she had escaped the owls surely she would be frozen by now.
I tried calling Becky’s cell phone at least 10 times. She had left it in her car. When she finally began her trip home and saw all the calls from me she knew something was terribly wrong. Finally, Becky arrived home after 9 and we continued to search for our Maddie.
At this point I was able to collect myself enough to connect in with her. Maddie was scared and confused. She didn’t know where she was and all she could see was snow and trees. I told her we were looking for her and that she needed to stay safe. “Maddie, find a house with lights on, you will be safe near a home” And if you can find an open garage or some other place to get out of the cold you need to do that”. “We will keep searching until we find you”. “Just look for lights”.
I went to all the neighbors who were home. I gave them our phone number but no one had seen her. By 11 pm I figured the neighbors were not comfortable opening their doors to a stranger at that hour, so I went back to searching up and down Pleasant, out in the woods, and down Hwy 54. I gave up about 12:30, sobbing, sure she was gone. Fear had taken over again and I could not connect with Maddie.
Becky continued to search until about 1:30 then went out again at 4 am. Neither of us slept all night so it’s no wonder my cold got worse and Becky got the flu.
The next morning we called all the shelters, sheriffs and vets. We made up a poster. I remembered what Tiger had taught me and reminded Becky. Our animal companions are here with us for a certain time and when their work is done they will leave. And so we surrendered to the possibility that this was what was meant to be, though we weren’t giving up.
About 10 minutes later the phone rang. Becky ran to the phone, sure it was about Maddie. My fear convinced me Becky was unrealistic. Fear is an interesting thing, it truly is False Evidence Appearing Real. When we allow fear to get hold of us we lose perspective and lose sight of our inner wisdom.
On the phone was a neighbor (not someone we know), she had Maddie and she was fine! She had opened up her blinds that morning, looked out the window and Maddie was sitting next to a bush in the sunlight. She said she noticed Maddie because there was a beam of sunlight shining on her.
The woman followed Maddie’s tracks and discovered she had spent the night huddled in the window well of her basement window on a piece of styrofoam. She called a neighbor who was one of the people I had talked to and was given our phone number. She brought her in, put her by the fireplace and fed her Chex and milk.
I asked Becky, “where do they live”? She replied “You know, that house on Hwy 54 with all the Christmas Lights. They have about 12 pine trees lining the driveway all covered in Christmas lights as well as the entire front of the house. Maddie heard me and followed my instructions; she went to the house with lights.
It’s amazing to think that she survived a night in single digit temperatures and didn’t have frostbite anywhere. This little 8 lb dog, smart little thing that she is, survived out in the cold night. She became our Christmas miracle that year. The angels watched over Maddie that night and kept her safe. And we let her know, this was her Last Big Adventure. By the way, she has never darted out in the snow since.