On my way to work one morning, a long line of cars was backed up on Greene Street. Brown Court Reporting, Inc., was several blocks farther. Bored, people had turned off their engines and were waiting.
I exited my car and walked up the street. “What’s going on?” I asked some people hanging around.
A man said casually, “Apparently, a dog got hit by a car.”
My heart welled up as I wondered how badly the dog was hurt, who he belonged to, and if he would be okay, but the man didn’t know anything more.
I waited a few more minutes. When it didn’t look as though things would clear out anytime soon, I turned around and went a different way to work.
Throughout the morning, however, I thought about the little dog hit by a car. I wanted to know more. I left the office and started checking with some of the businesses on Greene Street. Did anybody know what happened? “Somebody transported the dog to a local veterinarian,” someone said. I scoured around. I found the vet and called to inquire.
“No,” the lady said on the other end. “We haven’t located the owner, but she needs immediate medical attention. Her leg is severely injured and requires amputation.”
“How much is that?” I asked.
“About $200,” the woman replied.
That was a lot of money back in those days, but now that I had involved myself this much, how could I not help?
I told her. “I’ll pay the $200 if she’ll live.”
“Are you sure?” she asked. “It’s not your dog.”
I was sure. My only worry was how I would explain everything to my ex-husband. He wouldn’t want another dog. I wasn’t even sure if she and Shelley would get along. Shelley had never had to share us.
“When can I come by and meet her?” I asked.
“Why don’t you wait till later this afternoon after the surgery.”
I spent the rest of the day concocting a story to tell my ex-husband—that I had rescued a dog from certain death, the dog was an amputee, and I’d paid $200 for surgery on a dog I’d never seen.
Finally, the veterinarian’s office called and said the surgery was successful. I could come to see her, but they wanted her to remain overnight until she was well enough for me to take her home.
“Have you heard from anybody claiming to be her owner?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “We don’t know who she belongs to.”
Later that afternoon, I dropped by the animal hospital. They were glad to meet me. I gave them the check for $200 and thanked them.
“Do you want to see her?” the tech asked. “She’s in recovery.”
“That would be great,” I said.
They took me to an adjoining room, and I poked my head in the door. In front of me was a scrawny-looking, tan-and-white Terrier. She had large, floppy ears, and strands of hair covered her closed eyelids. Fifi aptly described her—a hurt, orphaned dog in need of a forever home. She lay curled up in a little ball with one huge bandage where her right hind leg used to be.
I left the vet’s office with mixed emotions. I was glad I saved her life and could give her a home, but how would I explain it to my ex-husband?
“You did what?” he asked when I was halfway through my prepared speech.
I justified everything, saying we would find a home for Fifi, and I didn’t plan on keeping her. Of course, he knew me better than that. By the time we went to bed that night, he had given a half-hearted yes to the new addition to the family, provided Fifi and Shelley got along. I was more than willing to make sure of that.
Two days passed. We brought Fifi home and slowly introduced her to Shelley. At night, we crated her. Fifi was still wearing a wrap where her leg used to be and still getting used to having only three legs. After a few days, we settled into a routine. I was encouraged that things were working out. Even my ex-husband quit complaining about the extra work.
A couple of nights later, the veterinarian’s office called me. “We wanted to ask you a personal question.”
I wasn’t sure where this was going. “Sure.”
“We wanted to know how things were working out with Fifi.”
“They are working out fine,” I said. “Fifi is getting along well with Shelley. Why do you ask?
Did you find the owner?” I didn’t want to know.
“Oh, no,” she said. “It’s just that we had a client in today with his sick dog that passed away. We couldn’t do anything for him. In a strange coincidence, Fifi looked like his dog. The old man is heartbroken,” she went on, “and we thought if things hadn’t worked out, maybe you would be willing to let him adopt Fifi.”
“We could meet and see what happens.” After I hung up the phone, I wondered if she had told the man that Fifi only had three legs. Not everybody would want a three-legged animal.
He called me the next day, and I promised to come home early to meet him. By this time, I wasn’t sure I could let Fifi go. She had become a part of our family.
I arrived home, and a short while later, a car pulled up in the driveway. I walked outside to greet the man. As he exited the car, I noticed something odd that caused me to do a double-take. He had a cane. He put the walking stick out to steady himself and then dragged his bad leg behind him. The man was disabled.
Then I realized, I was only the keeper of Fifi until her new master picked her up—someone who could understand what it was like to have three legs. As the older man and Fifi left, God reassured me that her new home would be perfect. I learned later the vet donated the $200 I paid to help another dog in the future.
After four years of living in the Augusta hellhole that golfers think is heaven, I wanted to get on with life. That day couldn’t come soon enough, and we moved to Gainesville, Florida. It didn’t take twenty-four hours for me to think I’d died and gone to heaven. Of course, after four years in Augusta, any place would have seemed like heaven.
Tails and Purrs for the Heart and Soul is available now on Amazon