He was last scene leaving our apartment in Cheeky's arms on a brief journey to get "coffee" and see a friend. By midday, we knew something was amiss. He wasn't in the crib. He wasn't under the couch. He wasn't in the conservatory with a lead pipe or in the library with the candlestick.
He was gone. Gone missing*.
Puppy was one of the family. He emerged from a shopping bag like Venus on the half-shell. Choirs of angels circled Cheeky's head as she reached out and clutched him closely, burying her bald little head in his soft, floppy ears. It was love at first sight. He's been her constant companion ever since.
He's there when she goes to bed at night, and he's there when she wakes up. When we see dogs in books she looks frantically for him, and quickly cradles him in her arms as she goes "woof woof". He's there in the car seat and the stroller, and when you can't get to a paper towel fast enough he'll mop up milk in a pinch (what? like you've never done it...) And unlike most dogs he never complained when he was dropped on the sidewalk or had his head slammed in a door.
Unfortunately for Puppy, Cheeky can be a little spastic. It's not uncommon for whatever is in her hand to be launched like a clay pigeon into the street. She's a baby trebuchet. Nothing is spared. This was the logical explanation.
Oodgie was distraught, calling herself a "bad mother" and whipping her back with a cat-o-nine-tails. I'm a little more optimistic, and insisted we do a reconnaissance mission around the neighborhood, retracing their steps. Perhaps some good Samaritan had rescued Puppy and placed him somewhere we could find him.
We all saddled up and paced out every step they'd taken before Puppy went AWOL. Every fence was examined, every undercarriage was surveyed, every garbage pail was scrutinized. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada.
Out task was clear: We must find a replacement Puppy before Cheeky realizes he's gone.
You'd think something by the same people who brought you Beanie Babies would be easy to find. Not so much. Our quest took us from store to store, first in our 'hood and then on the Upper East Side. Finally we hit the jackpot: Every animal that could be plushed was plushed and on display. Cheeky sat in awe, surrounded by a zoo of stuffed giraffes, cows, dinosaurs, and cartoon characters. That's when parental guilt set in--we couldn't just replace Puppy; we had to buy back her love.
So we let her pick what she wanted, and not surprisingly she went straight for Blue. (Blue & Steve have come to dominate our lives, like meta-beings exerting mind-control over our daughter and forcing us into submission through repetitive renditions of "Here's the Mail") We paid for both dogs, handed Blue to Cheeky and made ABSOLUTELY SURE that Puppy 2 was secure before leaving the store.
It was a nice day, and satisfied with our completed quest we decided to walk to Central Park to relax. It was only a five minute walk from where we were, so we headed west, stopping by an ice cream vendor for some refreshments, and headed to our favorite patch of grass. As we pulled up Oodgie looked down at Cheeky and said:
* Oodgie, by the way, would like to point out that the phrase "gone missing" is "retarded." Despite William Safire's defense of the usage based on it's origins in the British Empire, I tend to agree, but I also think it's quaint, like "he's at university" or "he's got an arm off." Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.