"Once upon a time, one bright sunny
morning in a far away land called New Zealand there was
a little dog who went to visit a convent." "A convent with
nuns?" Matthew's two big brown eyes gazed at his dad. "Yes,
a convent with nuns," Stuart confirmed, continuing the bedtime
story. "And in that convent, on one of the little old iron
beds, Puppy found a lovely old teddy. And Puppy and Teddy
really got on, in fact, Puppy liked the convent so much
he wanted to stay and play forever. So he hid with the teddy
until his owner left, then they both lived happily ever
after in the beautiful convent on the hill." "With nuns?"
said Matthew, beginning to drift off to sleep. "Happily
ever after with the nuns." Stuart kissed his son's head;
his story was done. Downstairs, he threw himself into a
creaking armchair."Put the kettle on, I need a stiff drink.
Now where on earth has that stupid toy got to? We've got
twelve hours to find it."
It wasn't the first time that Matthew's
toy dog had gone missing at a crucial moment. It had happened
before on a cold night last November, only hours before
we were due at Manchester airport. With everything efficiently
packed up, the house looking immaculate and the tickets
and passports safely in our wallets, we were frantically
searching under beds, in cupboards and through toy boxes
for the scraggy mutt. As Matthew slept, peacefully clutching
the special passport he'd made for the pup, we abandoned
our search in despair. Luckily we found the happy puppy
under the sofa in Matthew's bedroom just minutes before
we left for the airport. Puppy The Wuppy joined us on our
Big Trip as planned, and Matthew never realised he had gone
"Hello, my name's Matthew and this
is my dog." Matthew greeted the tour guides as they led
people through the convent at Jerusalem. As always, Puppy
The Wuppy ranked higher in Matthew's affections than his
little brother, who was left to create his own games in
the endless convent rooms. As Cameron dived into cupboards
and jumped on historic iron beds, Matthew played doctors
and nurses with his beloved Puppy and an ancient teddy bear
he found on one of the beds. Sister Sue, the resident nun,
had asked Matthew to look after the lonely Teddy, "He
gets very few hugs or visitors these days so give him lots
of love." After two days of exploring the old building,
and relaxing in its beautiful grounds, it was time to move
on, and we packed up the buggies ready to leave. But there
was someone missing. "Where's your pup?" I shouted to Matthew.
He had taken up with his brother once more, and they were
shrieking around the quiet Rosary garden in a game of tag.
Matthew looked about briefly, then shrugged and ran off.
They carried on their game while Stuart and I searched under
beds and in bedside cupboards for the puppy, and for teddy
who had also gone missing. "How are we going to tell him?
He'll never get over it," I whispered to Stuart as we tucked
the kids up for bed. "I'll tell him in a story at bedtime,"
Stuart replied, his face grim.
"It's only a dog so why do I feel
so gutted?" Stuart said, putting down the book he was reading
about Padre Pio. It was midnight, and we were catching a
last few moments of peace after a full evening searching
for the dog. I knew just how he felt. I couldn't stop thinking
about Puppy The Wuppy. I had really come to love the little
guy, and he had became deeply connected with my memories
of the boys over the last few months. I thought back to
South Island, to Puppy The Wuppy being sent down every slide
before Matt and Cam to assess it's level of scariness; to
Matthew's proud face when anyone asked his dog's name; and
to the boys flooding the toilets of the Havelock Youth Hostel
after giving Puppy a secret bath in the sink. Puppy The
Wuppy had witnessed our family luge competition, our meetings
with dolphins, kiwi's and penguins; he had his own seat
in restaurants and spent every night pressed into the face
of his sleeping master. Cameron too was fond of the dog,
and particularly enjoyed bungy jumping the pup from the
top bunk of every set of bunk beds they all shared. As we
finished off our tour of South Island and sat in a bar overlooking
Picton harbour, Puppy the Wuppy had toasted our success
with his head in his pint, tired out by all the effort.
Fond memories of Puppy the Wuppy...
eating, cruising, chilling, playing
In our last hour at the convent
we carried out a desperate final search. Stuart disappeared
into the convent chapel while Cameron sleepily wandered
around the kitchen with his bread and marmalade. "Where's
Puppy The Wuppy Cameron?" Stuart gently asked him on his
return to the kitchen. Cameron walked up to a cupboard and
opened it while we waited hopefully. "Puppy not in there,"
he announced. Stuart began systematically going through
the hundreds of cupboards, while I went upstairs to wake
Matthew, sure that there was no hope of finding the dog.
"You know we have to leave without your Pup this morning
sweetheart. He seems to have joined the Sisters of Compassion."
Matthew looked at me, then shook his head. "Well I hope
it's not going to be like Lamby. I don't want five of them."
He ran off to the toilet, leaving me floored by just how
unbothered he was.
"Miracle…it's a miracle!" Stuart's
voice suddenly rang out around the nunnery. I ran back downstairs
to find Cameron and Stuart jumping around the kitchen, hugging
a little brown lump of stuffed dog.
Cameron is awestruck by a miraculous
They had found Puppy
The Wuppy in a kitchen cupboard, tightly embraced by lonely
Teddy who did not want to let his new playmate go. Puppy
looked unscathed by both his disappearance and miraculous
recovery, but Teddy was clearly freaked by the whole event;
his eyes had popped out of his head and were hanging on
wire stalks. Stuart and I were overjoyed at the prospect
of living happily ever after with the dog. Matthew and Cameron
were quite pleased too.
Lonely Teddy has to be forced
to release his hostage from a deadly hug
As we left the convent we said goodbye
to Sister Sue, one of the two nuns who ran the convent and
church. "We experienced a miracle this morning," Stuart
told her, "We lost our dog, but I had just read this book
by Padre Pio, so I went and thought about him in the chapel
and next thing…Puppy The Wuppy miraculously turned up, in
a cupboard with teddy." Sister Sue glanced into the buggy,
where our precious Puppy the Wuppy was being throttled as
he hung by the neck out of an air hole. "Good luck with
your journey, I'll be thinking of you," she said kindly.
Puppy the Wuppy was to remain in his compromising position
until lunchtime, when Cameron announced he was carrying
some 'treasure.' In his grubby hand lay one of the antique
teddy's eyes. Padre Pio may have intervened on behalf of
Puppy the Wuppy, but it was going to take a hefty miracle
in this case to restore sight to the blind.