Before I turned in last night, I called my Michigan daughter for peace of mind. Considering the contrast between her dog’s energy level and her parents’, she opted to leave her pet in their house with a friend while on a business trip.

“Hi, Mom.”

Our youngest child is a pro at disguising distress, yet the tight voice on the phone betrayed her. “How was your meeting?” I said above road noise.

“Good, thanks.”

“Are you almost home?”

“Got in this morning
and went to Detroit to work on a photo shoot.”

I didn’t caution my offspring about burnout because we’re from the same DNA. However, I did inquire about my grand-dog.

“Oh, she’s okay, but I’m disappointed the sitter left her alone much of the time.”

Flashbacks of my fiascos as a babysitter and hiring babysitters for my children related to her dilemma. She and her older sister ran profitable babysitting circuits throughout their teenage years, and not without snags.

“I’m sorry. Good sitters are hard to find,” I said.

My husband overheard my end of the conversation. “Tell her we’ll be happy to dog sit any time.”

I admired our daughter’s standards for her beloved dependent, and understood her reluctance to discuss the matter when discouraged, exhausted and hungry.

“We’ll talk about this later if you’d like. Don’t worry about a sitter.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

With Mel’s promise to care for our grand-dog in her home, I slept soundly until an old nightmare shook me awake.

I’m twenty-eight years old and eight months pregnant with our third born. And I’m betraying my faithful dog Sweetie, a golden cocker spaniel I abandoned frequently from the summer of 1965 when my boyfriend drove me to a pet store before he left for Vietnam.

Sweetie listened to my broken heart when my parents divorced in 1967. When I returned home from college the weekend the Tigers won the World Series in 1968, Sweetie presented me with a litter of black puppies.

Sweetie Lee ran to the door when I returned from college and summer employment. We stargazed together. She jumped up on the bed I shared with a sister and slept at my feet.

After I married in January 1970, Mom took care of Sweetie best she could while raising my three younger sisters and hosting their weddings.

At last, a glorious summer day in 1975, I drove Sweetie in our Volare station wagon to our first home as a permanent, albeit brief, resident of the Mel, Iris, Becky and Kelly Underwood household.

The following fall as Sweetie approached the average life expectancy of an English cocker spaniel, our good-natured pooch became deaf and prone to biting when my toddler touched her ears.

Dear Reader, I dream of Sweetie in my arms, her brown, sad eyes when I placed her in the back seat of a friend’s car never to see her again.

A choice made under duress to regret my lifetime, our Michigan daughter never met Sweetie, yet she knows her—love’s yearning for peace of mind.

Contact Iris at