One of the things I find most interesting about this crazy wonderful life we all lead is how so often an event may seem to be a random occurrence, unrelated to any other aspect of our plan or circumstance, only to have the true purpose and meaning revealed to us at some point days, months or years later. When this happens I am always reminded to pay attention to all the little things in our days, to appreciate and savor the happy times, learn from the challenging ones, and seize any opportunity to try to make another’s situation a little better.
And so it is with Dan the Dog.
If you recall, Dan came to our family almost two months ago when we found her at a horse show in Rupert. Annabelle insisted on bringing the apparently-lost, aged golden retriever home with us, against my better judgment (since I was pretty sure she had a home), and we called her Dan, after our friend Dan Roeser, who cast the tie-breaking vote in the argument that day over “Does she stay or does she go?”
I reported Dan’s whereabouts to the county animal shelter the next day, and before long I heard from Dan’s owner, who lived next to the fairgrounds where we had observed the dog hanging out for the entire previous weekend. We arranged to meet in Wendell, roughly half-way for both of us, so that the owner could retrieve the dog. He couldn’t come to get her for a few days, so Dan hung out with us for almost a week.
During her days with us, Dan fit in with our family like she had been here her whole life. She followed the kids on their bikes or horses, swam in the irrigation ditch, and slept next to my desk or bed or wherever I happened to be sitting still for a moment.
Annabelle cried when we had to return Dan, but she knew it was the right thing to do. I told Dan’s owner that if they ever needed to rehome her to give us a call; we would love to give the sweet old lady a good home. He smiled and shook his head. She had been in their family for nearly 10 years, and was the best dog they had ever had. She wasn’t going anywhere.
Fast forward to Tuesday of this week. I got a call from Lee, Dan’s (actually her name is Hailey) owner. The family had had an unexpected change of circumstances, he told me, and had to move into town into an apartment. They could not take Hailey with them, and couldn’t bear to put her up for adoption to a stranger. Were we serious about taking her in?
I answered without hesitation, and today drove a reverse of my last trip to Wendell to meet Hailey-Dan’s owner once again, with the exchange going the other way this time. Lee tried to be upbeat but I could tell he was sad about leaving his dog. He brought a few bags of dog treats and toys, a nearly full bag of dog food, and the bed that Batman had picked out for Dan at Costco and insisted we send home with her when we took her back. Lee wouldn’t take any money for Hailey or her accessories.
Lee told me that Hailey was due for her shots and annual check-up, and apologized for not being able to do that before he brought her to us. He also mentioned that she had been having a few seizures this year, and while she wasn’t yet on medication, that was something she needed to be watched for. He seemed very grateful when I told him not to worry; whatever she needed she would get with us. I also told him he could call and check on her anytime he wanted, and he again shook his head, but this time he said that leaving her once was hard enough, he couldn’t bear to relive the experience by staying in touch.
As Hailey-Dan and I drove the two hours back home, I reflected on the fact that if we hadn’t followed Annabelle’s instincts and (the real) Dan’s tiebreaking vote, we would never have gotten to know the beautiful golden dog. If we hadn’t kept her for a week and gotten to know how wonderful she was, and followed up by requesting the owner to call us in the unlikely event they couldn’t keep her, who knows what might have happened to the sweet old girl. Unless you knew Hailey-Dan like we do, she would have been just another older dog on Craigslist, one in her twilight years who probably didn’t have a lot of time left and would require some extra maintenance for her short years left on earth. I think it might have been hard to find her a good home.
So this afternoon, as I sit at my desk with Hailey-Dan lying contentedly on the floor next to me, I am reminded once again of the wonderful, intricate and sometimes circuitous force that molds our lives, and am glad that we listened to that voice some six weeks ago.
Welcome home Hailey-Dan.
Oh, my heart!