Yesterday, December 22, 2010, we were busy working our way through the morning appointments when in walked Bonnie, the resident angel of the outcast animals of this area of the world. I see her often and usually she has a sick, injured or seized dog that needs help desperately. Bonnie and I are on the same page when it comes to addressing the needs of these neglected critters. The difference between us is that I draw the line at the office door and Bonnie would swim a gator infested swamp to rescue a starving hound to bring it in for help. She is amazing and never, never quits trying. I will always be in awe of her tenacity.
I was finishing some paperwork in the treatment room and she strolled up with a diet coke in one hand and a chicken/biscuit in the other and handed them to me accompanied by her big, good morning, wait til you see this one, smile.
I thanked her for the breakfast, pulled up my roll-around stool and sat down to hear what she had on her mind this time.
We are overwhelmed with Christmas goodwill at the clinic. We are getting fat as ticks on all the candy apples, fudge, brownies, popcorn, oranges, you name it that our dear clients have delivered these past two weeks. We have been busy as fleas but the season just makes each day more bright as Christmas approaches.
Bonnie reached into her pocket and pulled out a tightly folded sheet of notebook paper and handed it to me.
“You need to read this”, she said with a big grin.
“Lord have mercy Bonnie! We gotta find that boy’s dog and do something. It’s two days til Christmas”, I said with an oversized lump in my throat that had nothing to do with the chicken/biscuit, which was now getting cold.
“I kinda figured that’s what you would say. He’s in the truck, I’ll go get him”, Bonnie replied fully knowing what my reaction to the letter would be.
The letter was passed around the staff who stood speechless but smiling. They all knew that one Christmas wish was about to come true. We always hear stories about the “true” meaning of Christmas, but rarely do we ever get an opportunity to share the experience – especially with a child and a dog.
“Hound Boy” needed to be vetted for adoption. That’s about as easy as it gets. The middle-aged hound mix who had about a zero chance of adoption from the shelter in Perry had literally gotten the break of his life. We gave him his health exam which was good, vaccinated him and checked him for worms and heartworms. Sadly, he was found to have a heartworm infection. Bonnie said she was gonna pass the hat to try to raise the money for his heartworm treatment medication. It’s not cheap, but that’s down the road a few weeks.
Later, we anesthetized him and neutered him. I snapped a picture of him while he recovered from his surgery. “Hound Boy” was looking more like New Year’s morning hang-over, but better days were coming.
Bonnie picked the old pup up in the afternoon and was gone before I got an opportunity to hear her plan. That all changed today as she made us all tear up with “The rest of the story”.
This morning Bonnie made the hour-long drive back down the coast to Perry, FL. When she returned about lunch time she came straight to the clinic to share the rest of this marvelous Christmas story. This is how it went, I have every confidence that it is as true as the very spirit Christmas.
As she drove into the parking lot at the shelter, she noticed a small boy sitting on the steps looking away as she walked in. She went to the shelter manager who was talking with a woman. As she walked up they stopped talking and looked at her.
Bonnie said that she had brought the hound back after his surgery and vaccinations. He was fine for adoption and all the costs had been covered. The shelter manager said that was great and that it so happened that this lady was the boy’s mom that she was talking to. They had returned to adopt the dog after raising the money for the boy’s Christmas present. Bonnie introduced herself and told her that money was not needed for this dog and asked where Kevin was. She said he had run outside because he was upset.
It seems that after they arrived at the shelter, little Kevin ran back to the cage where he last saw his prospective canine partner. Seeing only an empty cage and the blue half of a 55 gallon drum for shelter that he referred to in his letter he became confused. Apparently he then remembered the stories his mom had told him about shelter dogs being “put to sleep”. He immediately thought the worst. He probably figured that he was too late to save his “Hound Boy”. With tears in his eyes and rage in his little heart Kevin ran outside just before his mom learned the real story.
That story, beginning with the letter that Kevin sent to the shelter and ending with Bonnie driving up just in time to surprise that little boy with his only Christmas wish, is the stuff we all love to hear. What luck, what profound Merry Christmas luck!
With Kevin’s Mom’s permission, Bonnie walked back outside and asked Kevin, who was still looking away, if he was OK. He replied “No maam”, still looking away.
“What’s wrong?” Bonnie asked.
Filled with sadness, rage and fear, the little boy replied, “That fat lady put my dog to sleep”.
That was the meanest thing he could think to say that wouldn’t earn him a spanking.
Bonnie knelt beside him, put her hand on his back and said, “Kevin, Hound Boy is OK, he is all fixed up and he is ready to go home with you! He is right here in my car”.
Of course, my best words become meaningless at this point. Just let me say what a profound honor and privilege it is for me to have even a small part in this boy’s Christmas dream. And bless you Bonnie, what an honor to know you.
May all of the joys of this wonderful season be yours my friends. Merry Christmas!!!!