It took me a moment to realize something was wrong.
I parked our car in the garage, unfastened the straps that were holding our 2-year old daughter in her car seat and stepped inside our home. I assumed she’d follow me as she had before.
We’d returned home from church, and were hungry and tired from staying up late the night before. It would take a couple of minutes before Kim and I realized Luca had not followed either of us into the house.
I ran to the garage to see if she was still in the car while Kim ran out the front door, thinking she may have wandered into our yard. When I didn’t find Luca in the garage I ran out through our back door to help Kim search our yard. Still no Luca.
Kim and I met near the entrance to our home and then ran to the street. Several of our neighbors saw us and came to help. We searched up and down our street which connects to a maze of neighborhoods, but could find no sign of our daughter.
I can’t imagine a worse feeling than what I felt at that moment. One minute Luca was in her car seat and the next minute she’s gone. By this time Kim and I were frantic.
More neighbors joined in the search including one man and his two sons. I went back into our home to make sure she hadn’t fallen asleep somewhere we hadn’t searched. When I couldn’t find her I decided to check the backyard again which had plenty of places for her to hide.
As I ran back around to the front of our home, I recall thinking I should call the police.
But when I came around the side of our home, I noticed our neighbor slowing driving his truck towards our home. His two sons were walking behind the truck, and one of them was holding the hand of our daughter, and she was OK.
What I hadn’t initially noticed was our three year old boxer named Elka, walking alongside Luca.
Our neighbor pulled up and mentioned how he’d found Luca a few blocks away walking down the middle of the road in search of who knows what. He explained that Elka walked alongside our daughter and wouldn’t leave her when he and his boys approached.
As a parent a few lucky breaks here and there are always welcome. I had made a major mistake in not accompanying my daughter into our home, but our boxer had acted as her guardian angel that day.
Elka was loved before this incident, but she endeared herself to our family that day.
Today a tumor took her life two months shy of her 13th birthday. We knew this day was coming, and I thought I’d be prepared for it, but it hurts more than I can put into words tonight.