Sometimes it can take four decades for a boy’s secret broken heart to mend when it comes to loving and losing a dog.
When my sweetheart Jim was 11 years old, his beloved hound and best friend was hit by a car and he went with his mother to take the dog to the veterinarian. The vet told Jim that the dog was in serious condition, and that he would keep him for observation through the night.
The next morning Jim was told that his big brown-eyed pooch had died. But secretly Jim didn’t believe that the vet had told his parents the truth. He was sure that the dog had survived, and that the vet had kept the dog for himself, or had given the dog to another family. He was sure that a dog that special, that dog-gone good was living in another home, with people that needed a perfect dog.
For years he would carefully eye any basset hound dog sporting the signature long body, big brown eyes and long floppy ears to make sure it wasn’t HIS dog, snatched by the doctor and given away to a family in dog-love need.
Fast-forward four decades.
Jim was taking a 35-mile bike ride in preparation for the upcoming MS150. A three digit hot Oklahoma day, he was travelling on a bike path, in an isolated area between the small towns of Sperry and Skiatook, when he spied a dog that looked like his own beloved childhood pet.
She sat next to the path on her fat little bottom, collared but not tagged, looking calm and pretty and like she was just wondering when he would appear. He determined if she was still there when he turned around at Skiatook then he’d bring her home and find her owner. Sure enough, once he had ridden to Skiatook and headed back on the path there she sat, patiently waiting his return.
They walked three miles, Jim pushing his bike, and little dog walking steadily on her short legs, a little slower in the shaded areas than in the full burst of sunlight sections.
“Can you come get me, I’ve found a little girl dog,” Jim asked when he called me.
I hopped in the car and headed to the agreed upon rendezvous location and found them sitting contented together, like long lost buddies.
We brought her home, and she stole our hearts. Sweet, patient, soft ears like velvet fabric, and eyes that invited affection. We wondered if she’d been dumped or escaped on her little legs following her blood hound nose far from home.
We posted messages, called the pound, and sought out the basset hound rescue group for help to find her home. We contacted a friend that would consider adopting her if we couldn’t find her rightful owners.
Secretly, I wanted her to be the newest member of our family, although clearly our beloved black lab Sheba was not too keen on sharing our undivided adoration.
I tried on names from Shorty to Little Bit but Daisy kept coming up in my mind. Since Jim’s Aunt Daisy had passed, I asked if it was disrespectful to name a dog after her, even if it was a sweetheart of a pup.
I made and printed posters and Jim set out to hang them all over the area where he found her, although most of it was remote. He remembered a diner near the bike trail in Sperry a few miles away from where she was found and on impulse decided to stop and see if they’d put a poster in the window.
“Why, a lady just left and put her poster in the window, I think that is the same dog,” explained the waitress.
Sure enough, it was her and she was named Daisy all along.
Grateful owners came to pick up Daisy and told us that their son Cooper had cried himself to sleep two nights straight. They even had to explain to his teachers why he was in such a state.
“I told Cooper to pray and if it was meant to be then we’d find Daisy and if not some other family just needed her love more than we did and we would need to bless them,” his mom told us.
They were grateful for the return of Daisy, who had her own young boy missing her like crazy and a sibling basset hound that was howling through the night with grief. Just look at the happy reunited trio below, and Coopers touching thank you note.
As we waved goodbye, I turned to see Jim with tears in his eyes.
A man and his good heart reunite a boy and his dog.
And in the process of helping a boy find his pup, more than one heart found its way back home.
We never know when healing from loss will happen, or how long it will take, but if Daisy is any indication, then dog gone it, keep the faith.