The little blond dog with seven white toes enters Rose's life when her father finds the collarless dog in the middle of a rainstorm. He brings her home to Rose. Wes has been at the local bar, as he usually is, and is late. Rose has already prepared and eaten dinner, and is working on her homonym list when her father yells at her to come out and help. He is holding a rope, and at the other end is a very wet dog. "You can pet her," said my father. "That's what normal people do with dogs."
Rose is concerned that the dogs owners are searching for her, but her father insists, "If they didn't care enough to get her a collar, they don't deserve her."
"Is she a gift?" I wanted to know.
"Yes, she's a gift, Rose. She's my gift to you."
My father had not given me many gifts.
Rose names the dog Rain because she was found in the rain and because rain has two homonyms (reign and rein). The first night, Rain sleeps with Rose in her bed, and does so every night from then on. When Superstorm Hurricane Susan bears down on the region of New York and causes devastating damage, Rose and Rain shiver in bed together, listening to the trees crack and fall and the wind howl like a freight train. As the storm gradually winds down, Rose falls asleep at last, but discovers when she awakens that Rain is gone. Her father has let the dog outside, without her collar, into the still stormy morning. She calls for her for days, and struggles to understand why such a thing would happen, why he would let her out. She asks him repeatedly, and each question elicits more frustration, until Wes seems close to exploding. With the help of her Uncle Weldon, the one person who seems not only to understand but truly love Rose, she develops a plan to search area shelters for her missing dog.