Some of you may already know the story of Noelle, Noelle the Christmas Dog. But it is a story that I don’t think I will ever get tired of telling again. I’ll be telling this story when I am 97 years old, even though my grandchildren will have already heard it a thousand and one times. It’s such an incredibly special story. A Christmas story.
But before we talk about what happened on Christmas Day in 2019, on a little back road in Texas, let me give a little back story.
The last few years have been rough in the dog department in my household. All of the dogs that I brought with me from New York when I moved to Texas, dogs that I had raised from puppyhood, dogs that had raised ME to adulthood, have all passed. They were all fairly close in age, and so they all passed in a very short span of time. I’d just finish grieving one, and another would leave me.
My sweet Bloodhound puppy, Mousse (we’ll talk about that special boy on another day), was diagnosed at 13 months with advanced Dilated Cardiomyopathy, a heart condition, and he also passed away in that same span of time. Losing him and my oldest Aussie, Tammy, left my younger Aussie, Ti (pronounced “tea”) a single dog, and neither of us could stand it.
My dear friend Betsy, over at Hearthside Aussies, sent me home two years ago at the telling of this with an absolutely wonderful Australian Shepherd, Tinder, who I’ll also write about on another day.
But I was still feeling that itch. That “I don’t have enough dogs” itch. That “my household is not complete” itch. If you’re a dog person, you probably know that itch that I mean. I started asking my husband what sort of dog HE wanted. It could be HIS dog this time! We talked about getting a German Shepherd, and even went to meet one at a local shelter, but he just was not the right dog. Life kept getting in the way, and the dogs just were not the RIGHT dogs.
So now, to Christmas Day
On Christmas Day, I was driving out to the pasture where I keep my horses and my donkeys. It was chilly outside, but a pretty nice day here in Dallas. I had both of my kids with me, my baby asleep in her carseat and my toddler singing loud and crazy toddler tunes behind me.
As I turned onto the street where I keep my livestock, I saw a truck pulled over to the side of the road, and a woman putting a small, fluffy puppy into the ditch. I drove by before my brain registered what I had seen, and by the time I turned the car around, the woman and her truck were gone.
I am not writing this to pass judgement on this woman. I do not know her story. I do not know what would possess a person to abandon a baby out in the middle of coyote country at dusk, in the winter. Maybe she was an unwelcome Christmas gift, or a puppy that didn’t get sold by Christmas day. There are so many resources for finding a new home for a puppy this young, but I don’t know this woman’s life.
The puppy was so young, maybe 7 or 8 weeks, and she had scampered underneath the fence of the pasture beside the ditch. It took some convincing to coax her back out again, but she came out eventually. I scooped her up and brought her into the car with me. My toddler held out her arms, and I deposited the scared, sweet little fluff ball into her lap, where she slept the entire ride back home.
Noelle is one of those dogs…
If you’ve ever had one of those dogs, you know what I mean. The dogs that come out of nowhere, and are exactly what you needed. The dogs that are perfect for your family, and were sent from above to join your family. The dogs that you didn’t even know that you needed.
This was one of those instances that makes you believe in a higher power. If I hadn’t run back into the house to grab some boots for my daughter, I wouldn’t have been at that intersection when I was. I wouldn’t have seen this incredible dog, this wonderful dog, this life changing dog, being dumped into the ditch like trash.
Noelle is not perfect. She’s a 3 month old puppy right now. She chews, she barks, she’s only MOSTLY potty trained. She knocks over the baby and she gets into the trash. She is mischievous, and she likes to try to pluck the chickens.
But in two years, Noelle is a dog who will stop my daughter from being bit by a snake. In five years, she will bark at coyote trying to get in with those same chickens that she loves to pounce on now. In ten years, the fur on her neck will be wet with the tears of a frustrated teenager, who NOBODY understands but Noelle.
And at the end of it all, she will pass in our arms, cherished by this family. A little throwaway puppy who will have grown into a treasured member of our household, and will have lived her life thoroughly loved.
As it should be.