She had moved to a new neighborhood with her family and adopted a furry friend. She had never imagined that one day her Doberman would bring her a baby that would change her life forever.
“What? No, I disagree! This dog will wander everywhere, and Tilly and all the chores already drive me crazy. So no, Matthew! No!”
“Mom?” begged Tilly. “Please? I promise I’ll take care of him.”
“And me too, my baby! We’ll help you!” added Matthew.
Gina looked at her husband and daughter sitting at the kitchen table with pleading and innocent eyes, trying to convince her to have a pet dog. But she wasn’t going to give in.
“I’m not going to trust you anymore! Remember what happened last time we had a parrot? No, guys, no! The house is still a mess, and I need to get back to work as soon as possible!” said Gina, packing boxes and heading to the bedroom.
“Mom won’t let us, dad,” Tilly said sadly. “But I want a dog…”
“Hey, hey, princess,” Matthew whispers. “Let’s get one without telling mom, okay? I bet she’ll fall in love with it!”
But no. Gina didn’t fall in love with the pet dog, at least not immediately. When she came home from work a week later, the overly affectionate Doberman jumped on her and started licking her face, and Gina panicked.
“Matthew! Get him off me!” she yelled.
Matthew started laughing and said, “Looks like he likes you more than Tilly and me! Why don’t you give him a pat?”
Gina sighed, “Oh my goodness! What am I going to do with you two, and now this… thing!”
Tilly smiled and wrapped her arms around the Doberman’s neck. “Washington, Mom! His name is Washington!”
“You don’t have to worry, Gina,” said Matthew. “He’s a trained dog. He won’t bite our daughter; in fact, it seems like he already likes her. Besides, it’s for our own safety. I think you understand what I mean.”
“Yes, whatever!” Gina rolled her eyes. “I still can’t believe you did this behind my back. I’m done with all of you, really! But you know what? No! You better send him back where he came from!”
“Come on! Don’t be a downer, Gina!” said, Matthew. “You’ll end up loving him! Please?”
“I still don’t agree! Good luck taking care of him!”
And so, with Gina’s slight disapproval and Matthew and Tilly’s great love and attachment, Washington was accepted into the Hayden household.
Matthew and Gina had recently moved to a small house in a new part of Pennsylvania after Matthew’s professional transfer. As a crime, especially daytime robberies, had reached unprecedented levels in the area along the highway, Matthew suggested they get a dog.
Tilly had always wanted a pet, and despite Gina’s disapproval, Matthew secretly took a Doberman from the shelter and brought him home.
Washington was cute, and Tilly loved him. But Gina was not emotionally ready to accept him into her home.
Therefore, she decided to secretly sell the dog and tell Tilly and Matthew that he had run away.
So, she secretly found a buyer online, discussed the details, and arranged to meet them. On the day she was supposed to meet the buyer, Tilly, and Matthew were out shopping, and Gina decided it was the perfect time to get rid of the unwanted dog.
As she was driving to the meeting with the buyers and with Washington in her car, Gina suddenly pulled over to the side of the road and said, “No, I can’t do this. I can’t.”
Then she looked at Washington and sighed. She remembered his charming light brown eyes, how he affectionately licked her cheeks despite her dislike for him, and how Tilly and Matthew adored him – as if he was already a member of the family.
So, as much as Gina wanted to get rid of him, somewhere deep down she felt attached to this domestic dog. Instead of getting rid of Washington that day, she turned around and went home.
“Mum? Did you take Washington for a walk?” asked Tilly when Gina arrived home. Matthew and Tilly had already returned from their errands.
Gina smiled. “Yes!” she said. “And I’m glad I did. I think he’s the best dog! We love him, don’t we?”
“Yes, Mum! He’s part of our family!” said Tilly.
But neither Gina, nor Matthew, nor Tilly could have predicted what happened next. It was nothing short of a nightmare, and Gina’s heart shuddered that day.
Gina was stocking up on groceries for the week in the kitchen while watching Tilly and Washington play in the garden. She was gone for about ten minutes when she heard Tilly scream.
Gina rushed from the kitchen counter to the window and saw her daughter pale and pointing at something. When Gina looked over Tilly’s shoulder, she was shocked by what she saw.
“Oh, my God! Tilly! Washington!” Gina exclaimed and ran out onto the street.
Approaching Washington, Gina couldn’t believe her eyes. In front of them was a small child crying and waving her little arms. Washington had brought the child into their home!
“Oh, my dear! How did she get here?” Gina panicked, holding the little child in her arms. “What is a child doing here?” she asked. “Tilly, honey? What happened?”
“Washington ran outside for the ball, Mom! And I went after him… And he saved the baby from the snake… and he… he brought her home! He didn’t bite her, Mama! He didn’t hurt her!”
“What the hell is going on?” Gina was confused. “Where did you find the baby? And how can anyone leave their child unattended?”
“No one was there, Mom! The child was alone! Can we… keep her?”
“No, honey. God, no! We have to take her home! Washington, where did you find her?” she asked the dog. “Can you lead me there? Wait for a second, let me lock the door and we’ll go look.”
“Mom, I know the way!” Tilly said.
“Great, sweetie. It’s okay. I’ll be right back.”
Gina wiped the baby’s dirty hands and feet with wet wipes and wrapped her in a pretty pink blanket. Then she followed Tilly and Washington to the spot where they found the child.
When Gina arrived, she was shocked to find herself at the doorstep of an old, dirty house. When she knocked, the entrance door creaked open, and a musty, damp smell hit her nostrils.
The house was dirty and smelled of rotting meat. She saw dirty dishes on the table and a multitude of scattered items – things that should not be in a child’s home.
“Let’s go home!” said Gina. “First we need to call Dad, and then the police,” she told Tilly.
Seeing such a mess in the house, Gina realized that the child had been left unattended by negligent parents. So she asked Matthew to come home early, and they decided to notify the police and social services.
“Officer, we don’t think this house is appropriate for a toddler,” Gina told the police officer and social worker. “It was a mess! I mean, it didn’t look like anybody lived there, and whoever it was could have just gone back into the house for a few hours and then disappeared again.”
“We sent a team to verify the family’s whereabouts. Could you repeat the events of this morning?” – The officer asked.
Gina told the officer how Washington and Tilly had found the baby, and he nodded. “In situations like this, we usually put the baby in foster care, but the little girl seems to trust you,” he explained, looking at the baby, who was fiddling with Gina’s necklace.
“But we can’t keep her here, officer,” Matthew said, looking at Gina. “My wife and I both have jobs. She was lucky enough to get a day off today, so she was able to handle it. But we can’t guarantee…”
“No,” said Gina. “I think we can do it!”
“Gina!” – Matthew said. “It’s a big responsibility. There’s still Tilly, Washington, and your job! We’ve already asked the neighbors to watch Tilly while you’re at work, and things will get even more complicated if we agree to keep the baby!”
“I know, but I can’t leave her in the adoption system,” Gina objected. “I grew up in foster care, Officer, and I really don’t want her to go through the same thing. Please.”
“Well, great then!” – The officer smiled. “We’ll keep an eye on the child’s family. We’re already interviewing neighbors and hopefully, we’ll get an interesting lead.”
“Thank you, officer. I hope we can find a solution soon and the child will be safely returned home,” said Gina.
“Well, thank you for your help, Mrs. Hayden. We hope we didn’t cause you too much trouble. Thank you also, Mr. Hayden.”
“No, no, it’s all right,” sighed Gina.
Gina knew nothing about the baby and still decided to keep her at home. Bella, as Tilly called her, was a big responsibility for the Haydens. But Gina didn’t want to leave baby Bella alone, because she had seen how awful some foster families were!
So Gina decided to take a sabbatical until Bella’s family, or whoever it was, could be found.
But days and weeks passed, and still no news from Bella’s family. Meanwhile, the little girl’s cries and laughter had already graced the Haydens’ home, and they couldn’t be happier with her.
Two weeks later, however, Gina’s phone rang and the officers told her the bad news.
“What? Really?” wondered Gina.
“It seems that as the mother was a drug addict and a divorcee, she lost her parental rights, Mrs. Hayden,” the agent explained. “The father is missing. According to neighbors, he was a ‘problematic’ man, and the granddaughter was being taken care of by her grandmother, who appears to be suffering from dementia.”
“We found her in a hospital on the western outskirts of the city. She had been crying for days and begged the doctors to find her granddaughter when she was taken to the hospital by locals. She had gone to the grocery shop on a nearby street, leaving the child alone, and she has no recollection of what happened next. The mother was found unconscious in a hotel. She was under the influence of alcohol”.
“Good God, what do we do now?” – asks Gina, hugging Bella with her phone between her ear and her left shoulder. “The family is clearly unable to look after the child.”
“Well, that’s for the court to decide, Mrs. Hayden,” the officer says. “For now, we’ll have to bring the child into the home. A team will be sent to your home.”
Gina stood nearby, heartbroken, as the officers drove Bella away in their car.
“Are we never going to see Bella again, Mum?” – Tilly asked with tears in her eyes. “I loved her. She was like a sister to me, Mum!”
Gina hugged Tilly and said: “Bella has a very bad family, darling. She won’t be happy there. So I need to talk to your dad and Bella’s family so we can get her back.”
“Does that mean Bella will stay with us forever?” asked Tilly.
“I’m not sure,” said Gina. “It depends on what the court decides. But she’s a sweet little girl. And I feel sorry for her.”
Therefore, Gina and Matthew decided to adopt Bella, if everything goes well. But Bella’s biological mother, a woman named Christina, stated in family court that she will get back on her feet and take care of her daughter.
“They can’t just take my child away from me!” screamed Christina. “I love her, for God’s sake! I really love my daughter, you understand? It’s just circumstances that forced me to make some decisions that I’m not proud of. But please. I hope you understand me.”
“Miss Contreras,” the judge said. “I am concerned that your actions after you were deprived of your parental rights were not favorable to the court placing the care and custody of the child in your hands. In addition, we have been informed that you have been absent for several days, leaving the child with the elderly mother. Therefore, the court…”
And then something magical happened. “My… Mummy!” – Bella exclaimed, looking at Gina.
Gina’s eyes lit up and the judge smiled. “So, it seems to me,” the judge continued, “the child has chosen her mother, which simplifies my responsibility as a judge…”.
In the end, Bella became Gina and Matthew’s daughter, and they were very happy to have her back. But Washington was the happiest of all, who not only brought Bella to her new family but also loved her smell and covered her in saliva, licking her little feet and hands.