A poignant and unforgettable tale of love, loss, and moving on . . . with the help of one not-so-little dog
Rocky's husband Bob was just forty-two when she discovered him lying cold and lifeless on the bathroom floor . . . and Rocky's world changed forever. Quitting her job, chopping off all her hair, she leaves Massachusetts--reinventing her past and taking a job as Animal Control Warden on Peak's Island, a tiny speck off the coast of Maine and a million miles away from everything she's lost. She leaves her career as a psychologist behind, only to find friendship with a woman whose brain misfires in the most wonderful way and a young girl who is trying to disappear. Rocky, a quirky and fallible character, discovers the healing process to be agonizingly slow.
But then she meets Lloyd.
A large black Labrador retriever, Lloyd enters Rocky's world with a primitive arrow sticking out of his shoulder. And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded, lovable beast. As the unraveling mystery of Lloyd's accident and missing owner leads Rocky to an archery instructor who draws her in even as she finds every reason to mistrust him, she discovers the life-altering revelation that grief can be transformed . . . and joy does exist in unexpected places.
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April 24, 2007
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Excerpt from Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan
Bob had left the waxed food carton on the counter the night before and it now smelled of grease and fish. Rocky picked up the box and a puddle of oil pooled beneath it. Her husband ate deep fried food when salted fat was the only way to soothe the layers of accumulated sadness after a day telling a pet owner, "Your dog has had a good long life and this cancer won't be cured by surgery or chemo. Her kidneys are failing. What would you like me to do?" She knew from looking at the contents of the food container that Bob's day had gone badly yesterday and that his mumbled response to her as he got into bed was a result of self-medication with the worst sort of fast food. "They only change the grease in that place once every week," she warned him.
They had traveled to Ireland one year and the highlight of the trip for Bob had been learning that the Irish had a polite form of a well-worn expletive that was cleverly one letter off. The first time he heard a storekeeper in Sligo say "Oh feck!" Bob perked up. "Feck?" he asked. "Is that something you can say around your mother?"
"'Tis, as long as you don't say it about her, if you get what I mean. But don't you dare say 'fook' around Herself," he explained, pronouncing the expletive with an Irish lilt. Ever since then, Bob said the world was fecked if he was mildly peeved. He mostly said it to his patients, cats and dogs, who came to him. "Why, that's a fecking shame, Simon, but antibiotics will clear that right up." But if he was massively indignant, the world was completely fooked. When he was sad from too many old golden retrievers looking at him with dreamy-eyed forgiveness as he injected them with death, he went to get "fooking fake fried clams at Johnny's Drive-In."
Rocky tossed the white container into the garbage. She was on her way to the university, but remembered her promise to order new socks for them to wear at night as they scuffed about the house. She was annoyed that he had been so insistent and it was only the first week of May. Why couldn't he take time to make the call? And why now? The semester would be over in ten days, then she'd have time for this, not now. She began lining up her points for the argument that she planned to have about Bob assuming that she should call. They would have the argument over dinner.
She picked up the cordless phone and punched in the 800 number for Lands' End, when she heard the thick sound from the upstairs bathroom. She pictured Bob brushing his teeth, peeing a coffee-scented stream into the toilet, shaving his face, but none of those predictable morning rituals accounted for the sound.
"Good morning. This is Priscilla. Let's start with your catalogue number," said the voice on the phone. Rocky hit the off button and climbed the stairs, head cocked to one side, listening for another sound to explain the first one. She held on to the phone in her right hand as she mounted the stairs and went through the doorway into their bedroom.
She called to her husband and the hollowness of the house hit her beneath her ribs. "Bob, are you okay in there? Did you drop something?" She tried to open the bathroom door but something was wedged against it, letting her open it only an inch. There was nothing else in the bathroom other than Bob that could provide such resistance. Had he fainted? She shoved the door open, inching his body back and wondering if she should call 911, or would she look foolish if he'd only gone dizzy for a minute? When the door was open wide enough to stick her head in, she saw his open-eyed stare and punched 911 into the phone. Then she flexed her legs and heaved all her weight against the door and entered the bathroom with such velocity that the latch of the old door caught at her pants, ripping them at her thigh, grabbing at her skin.