During our recent move to a new home in Summerville, my little fur-baby Darla got out through a small fence.
We knew the fence was not up to standard and had a replacement one being installed a few days later.
What we didn't realize is that she could push aside the item we had blocking a doggy door, escape through such door even though she'd never used one before, and get out through said fencing.
We had a multitude of problems at this new house, which had sat empty for most of two years and needed much TLC.
No running water and no working appliances were just the tip of the iceberg.
So that evening, we had traveled to my daughter's house a few miles away for a hot meal and shower after a long day working on this neglected house.
Upon our return, my heart sank when I saw the gate standing open.
Darla was gone and I was frantic.
I called the Fulchers behind us to see if they had seen her.
They had not but quickly offered to help in the search. The McCurrys soon joined in.
And search we did. We walked, drove cars, and rode golf carts for hours to no avail.
I was absolutely heartsick.
My 30-pound baby was missing in a city she had just arrived at from Aiken the night before.
I felt there was no way she'd ever find her way back.
My husband and I had no furniture yet in this work in progress house but we did have an air mattress.
We dragged the air mattress to the kitchen where it would remain for many nights to come. We left all the outside lights on, the porch door open, and slept on an air mattress on the kitchen floor so that we would see her if she returned.
No sleep would come to us any time soon. As soon as the sun came up or before, I was out again looking for Darla.
The Fulcher children made missing signs and printed them and put them up around the neighborhood since I had no internet or printer yet.
I blasted the news out on Facebook and many, many friends re-posted.
Keeping this all from my son was the hardest thing. I had to block him from my Facebook postings. He was away at USC in the middle of taking exams and needed to concentrate only on that.
I made daily trips to the SPCA and walked the sad row of turned in dogs to see if she was there and then went to my car and cried after each trip.
Anyone that doubts this is a pet loving town is wrong. I was amazed at the outpouring of support. My neighbors kept a constant watch out for her.
Facebook friends and their friends sent messages of support and love.
Friends such as Jennifer Shockley and others offered to drive my neighborhood in their spare time to look for her.
Marie McLeod went out walking in the rain on the Sawbranch Trail one night to see if she could spot her.
People I didn't know called just to see if I had found her yet and offer their support.
On my fourth night of no sleep, a true Christmas miracle occurred. I was not sleeping, lying on the air mattress and heard a jingle.
I awkwardly jumped up and ran to the door and saw her running through the back yard.
I yanked opened the door, called her name, and she leapt into my arms. I'm not sure who was happier.
My husband was in Aiken that night and I called him bawling to tell him our prodigal baby had returned. A call to my daughter was next, even thought it had just turned 5 am.
Miracles do occur every day and Darla's return is proof of that.
A true miracle is this wonderful town we live in.
I was truly amazed at the phone calls I received while she was missing, and the ones that continued for two weeks after she returned. People who were just then reading an old newspaper and saw the ad called. People who had seen the posters, or lost postings on various listings, called just to see if she had been found because it had been bothering them that she was lost. The outpouring of love and support was incredible.
Darla has settled in nicely at her new home. She says she thinks she'll like living in Summerville just fine.