One of the things about this job I created for myself is most of the stories are sad. The best way to being an understanding with each other and even ourselves, is to talk about the ugly things in life. It sucks, its annoying, but it has to be done if anyone wants to make any personal growth. However, we can not allow this to block out any of the positivity in the world. So for today’s story I’m going to talk about one of the happy moments in my life.
It was the Christmas Eve of 2010, a year after one of the worst snow storms in North America. In our little trailer, we were doing our best to keep warm. Every went we had to cut off half of the house because we did not have central heat. Even despite the cold, we were all still giddy with excitement.
Christmas was a huge deal in my family. My maternal grandfather loved Christmas more than anything and always made it bright. When I was much younger he would often dress up as Santa and bring us our gifts personally, be Santa knew that we were just that special. Christmas was a time of joy, where no one was allowed to fight over anything. The only screams to be heard were of the children’s excitement when they got everything they wished for. Once I got to be older I because “Santa’s Helper” helping to wrap gifts and give them out to the other kids. My grandfather was always Santa to me though, even after his passing.
I was 16 this year, dealing with being a teenager on top of all of my other chores. This morning I happened to be chopping firewood for my dad, knowing that he would not want to do it once he got home. It was almost lunchtime when we noticed a group of dogs come up our driveway. Three very friendly Dachshunds and an elderly Bulldog. Despite our dogs’ protest, they stayed in our yard all day, playing with my 5 siblings and chasing our cats.
Once night started to fall and the temperature started to drop, the Dachshunds ran home, leaving the Bulldog behind. By this point, he was too tired to climb up the steep hill between our house and his, and the cold made it to where his joints just wouldn’t move like he wanted to. Instead, he hid under my car and whimpered slightly. After a long conversation with my mother, I brought him inside.
He slept in my brother’s room that night, hiding underneath his bed. That morning, after opening our gifts, we let the dog back outside, thinking it would find it’s way back home. About halfway through the day, we realized that wasn’t going to happen. He just sat in our yard, under my car, and whimpered the whole time. He didn’t have the energy to play with the kids like the other dogs’ had so we knew he wouldn’t make it back home alone.
The only issue was, his collar didn’t have a tag. We lived out in the countryside, on 11 acres of woods. Our neighbors all had about the same space, if not more. Out here, people didn’t always put tags on their dogs, because we didn’t really have an animal control. I wanted to put up a flyer, but everything was closed for the holiday. So he spent another night with us.
That next morning, as soon as I woke up, I wrote up a note. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but I do know it had my phone number on it and told a little bit about the dog. I went up to our local gas station to post the note. It was packed with farmers, truckers, and hungry people. Everyone was there that day and I, being home-schooled, was not used to people. I stepped in long enough to post the flyer and ran out the door, not stopping to look at anything else. One of the women in line tried to get my attention, but I was to afraid to answer her.
About an hour later, I got a call from a very polite man. He sounded like he was about to cry as he said “I think you have my dog.” After describing the dog to me, he told me he lived 2 houses down from me. I told him not to worry, that I would have his friend home in a moment. Luckily, this dog let me put him in my car and went with me to the house on top of the ungodly steep hill on our road.
As soon as we pulled into the driveway, this old dog started jumping up and down. This was the most energy I had seen in him the whole time during our stay. His owner opened my car door before I could even get out of my seat, tears rolling down his eyes. He took me inside to meet his wife and to ask about how I found his dog. As we talked, I noticed all of the gifts still under the tree. All of Christmas had been put on hold for this pup.
His owner went on to tell me about his son’s best friend, who had been away in Iraq. He was like a son to him, and when he got back, he bought him a bulldog. Shortly after coming home he found out that he had cancer, and passed away on that following Christmas. This man had taken the dog back and it was the only thing he had left to remember a man who had become such a big part of his family. He handed me a hundred dollars, to my surprise. I rejected the money, and his wife agreed with me, but he insisted. He told me it was to pay for the boarding of his friend and as a Christmas gift. I don’t know what I spent the money on, most likely gas and books.
Later that day, when my father came home, he gave me the biggest hug. He had stopped by the gas station on his way home and the cashier had told him about what his eldest child had done. Apparently, I had posted that flyer right beside a “reward for dog” poster that the man had left an hour before. He had offer $75 for anyone who knew where his dog was. My father was so proud of me for wanting to help someone and for not caring about what I was getting out of it. He even bought me a carrot cake and a Yoohoo to celebrate.
I’m not going to lie, I cried through most of writing this. I was taught by my grandfather to give, always. He was very big on helping people and had always taught me not to judge the homeless guys I saw when we were out. My grandfather was a big softy with a mean demeanor and I can not think of a better way to honor him then by reuniting a man with his lost dog.
Thank you for reading this. I hope it helps you to remember that simple acts of kindness can go a long way to changing someone’s life.