January 2nd 2008 11:49 pm
[ Leave A Comment ]
A GIFT GIVEN IS A GIFT RECEIVED
On a late November night the man, who lived in the country, surrounded by farmland and open fields, stepped outside of his ranch house to get some fresh air.
To the east were foothills and to the west, unseen, a rural California town. He looked up at the black velvet night salted with bright-white stars and sunlit planets. The air was chilly and as he pulled on his jacket he heard Sally's soft shuffling steps.
He turned and regarded the elderly Australian Shepherd, his companion and good friend for 13 years. She drew up to him and they walked out over the gravel drive and onto the narrow lane that fronted his property.
Moonlight frosted the hills and cast shadows of the man and dog as they walked in companionable silence. On the tail of a winter breeze, the sound of sirens, faint and urgent, wailed briefly, before quiet returned.
Christmas was just around the corner. In years past he would have been planning what gifts to give whom, and deciding how many guests, family and friends, he and his wife would have over Christmas Eve. But, his wife has passed a decade ago and what family remained had moved out of state. Friends were few and most had made other plans this year. He sighed, his joy came from the giving of gifts -- that was his gift to himself, and he would miss that this Christmas.
Warm in a thick comforter, Sally's pleasant weight at his feet, morning came crisp and clear, sunlight slanted through the blinds. He rolled over and gazed out the window. Through the condensation on the glass he watched as a blurry shape moved erratically in the vineyard. Curious as to what he had seen, he got up, dressed and headed for the front door.
As he neared, a scratching sound came from the other side. His hand on the doorknob, he paused, listening. He heard it again, scratching. He slowly drew the door open.
There, on the porch sat a small dog of mixed breed: short legs, long body. She stood on her hind legs, furry forelegs pulling at the air. Short haired, with spots of different size and color, she was adorable. Her ears hung down, hound-like and she seemed to be grinning: happy to see a human.
He bent down and reached out a hand. She dropped to all fours, extended her head and gently licked his outstretched palm. By the indentation in the fur of her neck he knew that she had recently worn a collar.
He wondered how long she had been wandering alone in the country. She may be hungry and thirsty. He opened the door and called for her to come inside. She wagged her tail, panted a smile and turned her attention to the open field.
There in the mist was another animal. They both watched as the creature neared. She wagged her tail as a dog stepped out of the low-blanketing fog. Tentatively, the small young dog approached. The visitor at his feet barked a happy "It's safe!" greeting to her companion.
This dog, too, had previously worn a collar. Both dogs' fur seemed covered in sooty dirt and he decided he would give them a bath after giving them food and water.
They quickly adapted to their surroundings and thrived in the company of the kindly man. Sally welcomed the two dogs and seemed delighted to have them follow her and her human wherever they went. That night they all clambered on the bed, settled into the comforter and slept as one.
Two days later a group of people came to the house. The man answered the door and couldn't help noticing that on each person's face was an expression of weariness, and of hope.
They explained that they had been scouring the area. -- "Had he seen two small dogs? They would have been new to the area, unfamiliar with the surroundings." The man nodded and bade them wait. He returned with Sally and the two dogs in tow.
One of the men in the group smiled, tears welling in his eyes. "You found them!"
The man shook his head and softly said, "No, they found me."
The younger man, his cheeks now wet added, "Their names are Roxanne and Libby. They are my friend's dogs. Thank you, this means more to us than you could know...." The young man tried to say something else, but emotion overwhelmed him. He wept when the two dogs came over to him and whined.
He gathered the dogs, one in each arm and before he turned to the group he nodded his head--a gesture of gratitude--and the older man nodded back.
That night on the local TV news there was a story about the community losing a popular and respected veterinarian. He had been driving on a rural avenue, when his car had drifted off the road, hit a pole and burst into flames. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
It was later learned that his two dogs were with him at the time of the accident. It was believed that his dogs had died in that fiery crash. But when it was revealed, Tuesday, that two dogs matching their description had been seen wandering the area near the crash site, family friends began canvassing the fields. The dogs were found with a homeowner who had taken them in, cleaned them up and cared for them. The family does not know the name of the man who took the dogs in, but would like to thank him....
A family member shared this with the news reporters; "This is invaluable to our whole family because we know they were with my dad. I don't know how they survived, but here they are. They slept with him at night. They followed him around everywhere. It's like that's a part of him that's still alive in a weird way."
That night, while Sally nestled into the comforter and settled at the feet of her human, the man closed his eyes, thinking back on all that he had heard about his furry visitors and the man they loved. "How had they survived?" he murmured.
Drifting off to sleep he did not see the shimmering form appear in his room. "They survived because I was there. I lifted them from the inferno and set them out in the field. With a whisper, I directed them to find you."
The angel moved closer, "Your act of kindness was your gift to that family, and His gift to you!"
Sally thumped her tail and panted a smile and, then she, too, fell asleep.
Copyright 2007 Kathy Pippig Harris
Dedicated to those caring individuals at Central California Veterinary Specialty Center who treated Bliss, Podey, and their humans with compassion.
(Written, in part, based on fact. Dedicated to Dr. Robert W. Gfeller DVM. Born 8-16-49. Died Nov. 25. Owner of the Central California Veterinary Specialty Center, which he opened last year, and had served as chief of staff at Veterinary Emergency Service in Fresno.)
March 8th 2007 10:10 pm
[ Leave A Comment ]
Today I was critically injured by a dog. I was shaken badly. Afterward, I was in agony and my hinds quarters stopped working--I couldn't feel them. I was in great pain and bleeding from the urethra. My humans took me to the emergency vet. I was given an IV for the pain and wrapped in warming packs and towels because I was going into shock. My human cuddled me, spoke lovingly to me, kissed me, covered my face in her tears, and caressed me tenderly. Then my human told the vet lady that worked at the hospital that it was time--to put me to sleep forever, and bid me farewell and a good trip to The Rainbow Bridge. My human is hurting deeply, but I am no longer in pain. I will keep an eye on her from up at the Bridge. I have other siblings here and we will get together and keep our humans in thoughts and in our minds, as well as in our observation.
I am sorry I had to leave you. I was not ready yet to do so, until the injury. I guess God wanted to bring me home. I'll be there with you, when you walk around the house and visit the places where I would spend my time. I will also be giving you gentle head-butts, like always. Perhaps you will even feel them, now and then.
I love you Mom, and I will be waiting here, with the others, for the day you cross the Bridge.