Set in the Midwestern house of Lola and Doc Delaney, the plot centers on how their life is disrupted by the presence of a boarder, Marie, a college art student who has a keen interest in the young men around her.
Middle-aged Lola engages in mild flirtations with the milkman and the mailman. She sees in Marie a younger version of herself and encourages her pursuit of her hometown boyfriend, the wealthy Bruce, but also her classmate, the athletic Turk.
Doc, a chiropractor, abandoned a different career in medicine when he married a pregnant Lola, who subsequently lost the baby.
A recovering alcoholic, Doc maintains a precarious sobriety. To him, Marie represents youth and opportunities long gone; seeing her with Turk brings out resentments against Lola for ruining his life. Ultimately these feelings cause him to fall off the wagon, and act violently toward Lola. Frightened, she calls Doc’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, who comes to collect Doc and take him to the police station, where he is detained for drunkenness. Afterward, forced hospitalization sobers him up, and once the boarder leaves, he and Lola reconcile.
The title refers to Lola’s missing dog, who disappeared before the play’s opening and remains gone throughout the story. Lola hopes for the puppy’s return throughout the play by calling “Come back, little Sheba” daily from the front door, but eventually faces reality and gives up on Sheba’s return.