Delores E. Topliff was discouraged when she couldn’t give her sons the puppy they longed for … until fate stepped in to help!
“As a single mom, it took all my energy to guarantee my sons, ages 8 and 6, had food, clothes, and a roof over their head. When they asked for a dog one Christmas, I said, ‘Wait until you’re older.’
“A year later, they asked again. I explained we had to solve two problems first. I worked full-time, and dogs were happiest with someone at home. Dogs also needed a fenced-in yard. Owning one meant spending money for new necessities like a license, food and veterinarian fees. My older son offered to donate his allowance. His brother said he would deliver newspapers. They had me in tears.
“Meanwhile, our car was wearing out. Its engine still ran, but its body was so rusted that when I drove along rainy streets, water from puddles splashed through tiny holes in the car’s floor and into the back seat until we had a couple of inches of standing water. My boys were not in danger, but they had to lift their feet to keep from getting splashed with mud or water. They laughed, but it wasn’t funny.
“We cut costs by sharing a rental home with another single mom with two sons. Our kids had fun, and Judy and I did our best to take turns getting home to watch the kids, start dinner, and keep things normal.
“Soon, her boys wanted a dog too. ‘We need our own place first,’ I told my boys. ‘Once I buy a car and get a better job, then we can get a dog.’ Their smiles drooped. Clearly, we’d have this conversation again.
“Meanwhile, I started looking for a reliable car that wouldn’t have a puddle inside it on rainy days. We lived in Texas. My dad sold cars in Oregon, too far away to help, but he sent suggestions. ‘Don’t go to a dealership. Decide what year and model you want and search the classifieds for sale by owner. Sometimes, people have to move suddenly or settle debts. Hunt for a good deal.’
“I bought the weekend newspaper and crossed off ads. I had worked overtime and saved enough so I could offer cash, but probably not enough to buy a newer car. But then I read: ‘Must sacrifice two-year-old Ford Galaxy, top condition, low miles.’
“Wow! That night was the ad’s first run. Judy offered to drive me over there in case I got the car and needed to drive it home. I hired a babysitter and off we went. Thirty miles later, the address led to a pleasant brick home with a real-estate ‘Sold’ sign out front. A large RV filled the driveway next to a shiny, late-model blue Ford Galaxy. ‘This might be too good to be true,’ I told Judy. A pleasant-looking young man answered the door.
“He and his wife had sold their home to travel nationwide to develop the next stage of their business. Their car ran like a dream and was still under warranty. They accepted my cash offer.
“As we signed papers, the seller asked, ‘Do you have kids?’
“’Two boys. So does Judy. Why?’
“’This car has a bonus.’ He left the room and returned with a miniature white poodle in his arms, petting her soft, curly fur. ‘We love Lacy Brooke, but we can’t take her with us. She’s yours.’
“’How can you resist?’ she asked. ‘She’s a cuddly, living stuffed toy.’
“’Nothing like my sons and I imagined,’ I said, ‘but still…’ When I petted her, her perfect pink tongue rasped my fingers.
“We drove home in two cars. ‘Boys, come see what we’ve got.’ Once they inspected the outside of the car, I opened the door to show our surprise. ‘Meet Lacy Brooke; she’s ours.’ I held her out for them to meet, and they erupted in happy shouts.
“Lacy Brooke thrived. We all adored her. Animals know when they’re loved, and she returned every bit of affection with constant licks and tail wags. We found what our family really needed — no puddles and a new poodle.”
For a collection of more sweet stories about the fun, heartwarming and magical things dogs do, pick up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Dogs. (Buy on Amazon, $11.96)
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.