White Dog noticed Bella in my arms and caught the tone of our conversation. She gave her little sister privacy.
Bella had asked me to pick her up and then snuggled into my arms. It is unusual for my shy girl to ask, and I hoped as I lifted her that she was feeling OK. "Momma," she began, "tell me about the day you came and Gotted me forever."
I retold the story of loading the White Dog Army of the time, White Dog, Puff, YoYoMa, Taiko and Oso, into the van and driving several hours to pick her up from her foster mom at Breeder Adoption Release Services. Bella shook with fear on the blustery day and I held her in my jacket as we talked and finalized paperwork. On the ride home Bella alternated cowering in my arms and trying to crawl inside of me to hide. Bella was the first recruit I truly feared was a flight risk and her leash was wound round and round my wrist.
"Remember when we got home and I was terrified of everything and everybody," Bella sighed into my ear. "I did not know what was coming next and thought my entire world had been turned upside down. I worried that I might not be a good fit or you might not want me." "You were pretty scared, but you never had reason to worry Sweet Girl," I agreed. "Change was hard even if it was good change and I was scared because I could not see where things were going to end up. But you were there, Momma, always encouraging me and talking softly. You kept telling me everything was going to be fine. It will be better than your best dreams. Trust. Believe." I nodded and wondered where she was heading.
"I know that as we get closer to the end of the term and the time is near when dad will be unemployed that you get scared of the future. You worry about all of us and how it is all going to work. I understand. We all do. But we want to remind you that there is a powerful spirit in our Army and a belief that we can together weather this storm."
"I won't tell you not to worry. That would be silly. But momma?" I looked at my Tiny Dancer with tenderness as I fought back tears. "Dad has awesome skills and good ideas. He is a hard worker. This is not the end of things but a new start. Change is hard even if it is good change, just hold on to us. Be brave, like you taught me."
I crushed Bella against my chest and kissed her head. "Thank you," I told her. I had no words to express how perfectly she comprehended the situation or how much her sharing meant.
Then looking over to where White Dog peeked out from her spot, "Thank you for giving Bella this moment."