Three weeks ago Saturday I received a frantic call at 6 a.m. from my sister-in-law in Massachusetts. Early morning phone calls are never good news. As I picked up the receiver, a flush of dread washed over me.
My SIL was so choked with emotion, it took a couple of tries to figure out what had happened. Turns out, she had been caring for my mother-in-law’s beloved dog, Suki, for the weekend. Suki had slipped out through a tiny hole in the backyard fence and was killed on the road in front of her home. I offered to call my MIL to break the sad news. As a veterinarian, I’ve had more experience with that sad task, but it’s never easy.
My MIL is a recent widow and lives alone. Suki was her constant companion. I placed Suki, a rescued Coton de Tulear I found through www.petfinder.com, with her seven years ago. She doted on the fluffy pooch like a small child, and her grown children feigned jealousy. She was stoic when I gave her the sad news of Suki’s passing, but she rang off quickly. I knew she was crushed.
I immediately turned to www.petfinder.com again, my very favorite website, to start the task of finding another dog for her, having no idea when she would be ready, if ever, to open her heart to another dog.
There are so many dogs on Petfinder that need homes. A cute little Havanese mix named Star stood out as a possible match, but she was located in New Jersey, six hours away. I submitted an application for Star on behalf of my MIL and waited, holding my breath.
A week later, I finally had the courage to approach my MIL with the difficult question: “Are you ready for another dog?”
Her answer was a resounding – and unexpected — “Yes!”
I immediately phoned the rescue organization in New Jersey who had lovingly fostered Star back to health from a previous life of neglect. They informed me that they’d had no less than 30 applications for Star, but if my MIL would drive down to meet Star within 24 hours, they’d move her to the top of the list.
I phoned my MIL back with the news and got an even bigger surprise – this senior widow, mother of six, ultimate planner, and organizer extraordinaire would be ready to leave within the hour for the six-hour road trip to somewhere in New Jersey. My jaw dropped; her courage, adventurous spirit, and spontaneity amazed me. My sister-in-law threw her toothbrush and pajamas in a bag and rode along — Thelma-and-Louise-style, 2012 edition.
And so it goes. Little Miss Star, surrendered by her original owner with hair so matted she had to be shaved to the skin, was riding shotgun the next day, on her way to her new forever home in Massachusetts. Star has no idea what a wonderful life is in store for her, but this now fluffy little wiggle butt has already charmed the badly bruised heart of a senior lady.
I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.