Last week we moved to another town. The fact it’s only five minutes away from where we moved from didn’t make the event any less stressful. I still had to pack for a family of five kids and two dogs. I had tons of help, and although there still are a million boxes to unpack, the kitchen and the bathroom are done, the address has been updated at the many places that need our current address and I already did laundry. Now that I finally did laundry, I feel we’re home.

I told the kids we were on the first chapter of the next story in our lives. El Cangri, who struggles with abstracts, asked if our life was a real book that people are reading right now. I told him that maybe in the future someone will write a book about how awesome he is, and he was okay with that. Anyway, it seems like a lot of books, especially kids’ books start with a move. We were all excited about meeting new friends and starting again.

I forgot to remind the dogs that this was an opportunity to start again and maybe learn a few things, like not running away.

Yesterday, not five minutes after the Invisible Fence guy left, Dandelion ran away. I was helping Coco who had gotten shocked by the collar when he tried to breach the perimeter (serious hunger Games mental vision), and saw her darting to the street from the corner of my eye. By the time I went to look for her, it was too late. She was gone.

I spent the next two hours looking for her. After the kids came home from school, we looked for her. I met a lot of new neighbors. I hope I made a good first impression. I tried not to sound too frantic while calling Dandi’s name.

Nighttime came and still no sign of Dandi. By now there were a lot of teary kids. I’ve been reading Julia Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules and I kept thinking of Dandi out in the night, alone, with who knows what roams at night (I know, I get a little too involved in books).

This morning I had a phone call that a neighbor had seen Dandi not far from our house. I dashed to the car and drove down the street. I didn’t see her. I came back home and left Coco out in the yard. If Dandi heard him or saw him she would know where to go. And he was so terrified of getting shocked again, he surely wouldn’t … no, not at all.

I drove down the street and there she was. My beautiful teddy puppy wagging her invisible tail, ears perked up and smiling as big as she could. She was so happy and I must admit, so was I. Another teary moment. I couldn’t wait to be home with my Dandi.

So I drove up our driveway and Coco didn’t greet me, but I didn’t worry. He must have gone out back like he had yesterday. I ran to show him I had found Dandi, and … he wasn’t there. He had ran away!!!!
I remember sometimes in a story when you get what you were looking for, you have to pay something back. But I didn’t want to give up my Coco! I let Dandi inside and went back to the car. I wasn’t going back home without Coco. We’ve been through similar things (running away) all over the place, even in Puerto Rico, when he disappeared in the mangrove swamp behind our house.

And then I heard a yelp. Coco was calling me. Another neighbor had found him and was going house to house trying to find Coco’s family.

I hurried home, worried that this time Baby Hulk or Jeff would be missing. But whew! They were safe and sound waiting for me.

I’m excited for this story. I really hope chapters 2 and all the ones that will follow won’t involve any missing dogs or kids. Or vampires.

Coco and Dandi patrolling the park

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Yamile Saied Mendez

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine-American, Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult author.

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