What is it that binds a family together? Shared history? Genetics? A dog? In Darling Companion it is a dog (and for much of the time a missing dog) that allows a family to find relationships that need to be fed.
One day driving on the freeway, Beth spots a dog high on the embankment. He is banged up a bit, but alert. With her daughter, she takes him to the vet to be checked out. (The daughter and vet check each other out as well.) She takes the dog home until she can find a place for him. She names him Freeway. Freeway, of course, quickly becomes a part of her family. Even her husband Joseph, a successful surgeon, warms to Freeway.
Jump ahead a year to the wedding of their daughter and the vet (who Freeway has brought together) at the family’s vacation home in the mountains. After a wonderful wedding, as Joseph takes the dog for a walk (and talks about upcoming surgeries on the phone) Freeway takes off after a deer and soon is lost. Beth, who is beginning to feel the reality of an empty nest, blames Joseph for always being too busy with his work. They and other family members begin searching the woods. The whole area is on the lookout for the dog. Along the way we get to look into the lives of this family and see the bonds that hold them—and new bonds being developed.
We get to see various stages of relationships: Joseph and Beth have been married for some time, but their lives have been busy with other things. Now entering the empty nest phase may be a challenge for them. Joseph’s sister Penny is there with her new boyfriend Russell—a late life romance that is blossoming. Russell is described as having the personality of a used car salesman. His plans with Penny are a bit suspicious to Joseph and Bryan, Penny’s son, who is a doctor in practice with Joseph. Bryan is there without his girlfriend, but is attracted to Carmen, the caretaker of the vacation home. They are exploring possibilities.
Carmen, it turns out, is Roma (Gypsy) and claims to have a gift for finding things and gives everyone various leads to follow up on. In the process, she manages to match up those who need to spend time together for some reason, allowing them to form bonds. As one day leads to another—and another—hope of finding Freeway begins to fade. There is an exchange between Carmen and Beth, who has begun to think Carmen is just feeding their hope as some gypsy trick. Carmen: “You’ve got to have hope.” Beth: “It’s all we’ve got.” Carmen: “It’s all you need.”
It is hope that needs to be strengthened in all these relationships. The love is there, but there are cracks that might cause the relationships to crumble. They have to be able to see that there is some sense of joy about to unfold for them if only they can find it. In all of this is the catalyst of Freeway, whether present or absent. It is their hope of finding him yet again that teaches them that hope lets us see possibilities.