I was driving a beautiful brand new pickup truck through the Texas hill country one year ago to the day. My cell phone rang, and I heard the familiar voice of Mrs. Sherman, an elderly woman whose car I've driven to Bonita Springs, FL several times.
"Hello Bill, this is Mrs. Sherman."
"Hi, Mrs. Sherman, what can I do for you?"
"I am the lady whose car you drove to Bonita Springs." She's charmingly forgetful.
"Yes, I know."
"You picked me up at the Ft. Myers airport and drove me home.
And then you unpacked my car and brought all of my stuff into my
condo. And then you turned down my tip. Remember?"
"Yes ma'am, I remember you well."
"Bill, I'm sitting here in my home enjoying a hot fudge sundae,
and I suddenly thought of you. Do you like ice cream?"
"Uh, yes I do."
"With hot fudge on top? And nuts and whipped cream?"
"Yes, sounds delicious."
"Oh, oh, and a cherry on top. Mustn't forget the cherry."
"Sounds great, you enjoy it."
"Wait, wait, Bill, I need to ask you a question."
"OK, what's that?"
"Will you please drive my car again? I like you very much."
"Sure, when you need it moved, just call my boss Riff and he
will arrange it."
"But I want you to drive, not another driver."
"No problem -- hey, I gotta go!" I hung up quickly because the car in front of
me suddenly swerved, and I saw something lying in the road. I pulled off onto the grass on the side of this narrow highway and jumped out of the truck. There was a beautiful black lab lying there in the middle of the road, bloody and whimpering. "Hey boy, how ya doing? Oh, man! We need to get you some help." I slowly petted him and let him sniff my hand. "Sorry boy, this may hurt a bit." As gently as I possibly could, I lifted him and carried him to the truck. He whined a bit, but I felt it was worth it to try to save him.
I checked my map and could see that the closest town was thirty miles behind me.
So I turned the truck around and floored it, speeding my way to Llano. It was clear that I had found this dog just short of too late. Who knows how many other cars had just driven past this poor pooch, but I couldn't do that. I truly believe that dog's are in fact man's best friend. The dog licked my arm, and my heart filled with love for him. "Mind if I call you Paulie? You remind me of a Paulie. Don't you worry, we're gonna get you fixed up. Just hang in there." I gently petted his head.
When I got to Llano, I found the only Vet's office in town. Dr. Branson's name was on the sign out front, and I jumped out of the truck and ran to the front door. As I banged on the locked door, I noticed the sign that said, THE FISH ARE BITING AND I'M GONE. Great. Just great. I had a dying dog in my truck, and the only animal Doctor was out of the office. I went to a local market and asked if anyone knew where the Doc might go fishing. The manager gave me directions to Dr. Branson's favorite fishing hole, and I was off.
I went where I had been sent and looked hard. I searched high and low for the Doc, but luck was not with me. My cell phone rang, and my boss Riff began barking at me immediately. "Just where in the hell are you?"
"Busy right now, Riff."
"You'd best be on your way to Van Horn to drop off that truck. It's due there
"I'm dealing with an emergency right now, but I'll get the truck there as soon as I can."
"What do you mean as soon as you can? Get it there, and it better be clean."
I looked at the blood on the passenger seat, which was now dripping onto the floor. "I have to go, Riff." I hung up the cell phone, and it rang again almost immediately. "This is Bill."
"Hello Bill, this is Mrs. Sherman. I'm eating an ice cream sundae, and I was just thinking of you."
"Sorry Mrs. Sherman, I have to talk to you later." I hung up, and then saw a sign posted in front of a ranch that made my heart leap. LOVE A DOG ADOPTIONS - DOG CARE, DOG EMERGENCIES, FIND A DOG A HOME. I made a U-turn and found my way back to the driveway. Several miles down a bumpy trail I came out of the woods and into a huge clearing where a Warehouse sat. I honked the horn furiously as ten dogs came running out, barking madly. Jenny Forrest came running out, and I opened the passenger door. "Can you help my dog? Please?"
Jenny was all business. "We need to get him inside."
"Let's go." We both carried Paulie inside, and Jenny got to work. I stayed right by Paulie's side, and answered all of Jenny's questions. I told her how I had found Paulie, and my search for Dr. Branson, then how I had stumbled onto her place.
"You didn't stumble onto my place. This was God's work. Fate brought you to my door. We're gonna be friends forever."
And she was right. Paulie is just fine now, and loves to chase tennis balls as often as you will throw them for him. Later that same day, I met Jenny's husband Tom, who is the best mechanic in the state of Texas, and a good man to share a beer or two with. They are good and kind folks, salt of the earth, and they have made me feel like a part of their family. Anytime that I'm passing anywhere near them, I will stop at the ranch. Jenny can have up to 30 dogs at any given time, and she is really good at finding homes for them.
I call her my big sister. She calls me Bill-doggie. We love each other's company, we laugh and talk and share secrets with each other. She is one heck of a cook, and I can always plan on eating good when I'm there. Tom will take me out for rides in his boat on a nearby lake.
Most important, we both love dogs. We agree that you can always count on a dog for unconditional love.