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There’s a difference between letting go and giving up.

Last year we had mudslides and a flood on the heels of a wildfire that came within feet of our house. The flood washed away shoes, lumber, and anything outside that wasn’t nailed down. And some things that were.

To most of us, a small missing soccer ball wouldn’t be a concern. But to Stella, that ball was everything, and when the water took it she searched for days in all of its usual hiding places, until she finally gave up.

Except she didn’t.

A few days ago we were running down the asphalt road, frozen in places and still bound by snow on both sides. We were a couple of miles from home when Stella suddenly took off to my right, disappearing behind the drifts of plow-pushed snow piles. She was heading towards the creek, which had a thin layer of ice still clinging to its surface.

I yelled at her, because I didn’t know just how frozen the creek really was and didn’t want her falling in. A few moments passed and I couldn’t see her, so I started to make my way over the drifts when she almost knocked me over coming back out to the road.

With that soccer ball in her mouth.

It’s the same one, I recognize the scuff marks and small tears around the seams.

I have no idea how that dog found her ball two miles from home, after a flood took it away and a season of frozen winter covered it.

But I do know there’s a difference between letting go and giving up.