As most you know, Atlanta was hit by a winter storm that paralyzed the city. While some people were calling it “Snowpocalypse” and others called it “Snowmaggedon,” we can all agree that it has been a rough couple of days. So we would like to share a heartwarming letter that will bring everyone some much needed joy.
“Mr. and Mrs. H: I want to begin this note by saying “I am writing to thank you…” like I begin most “thank you notes”, but this really isn’t like most thank you notes. One writes a thank you note for a flower arrangement, or a casserole, not for a gift that cured my heart and brought my family a greater joy than I ever could have wished. Several months ago, in an act of an enormous generosity, you paid the medical bills for an unfortunate and confused shelter dog called Bo Peep. Her back story was never entirely clear, and she didn’t even seem to be a golden retriever, but you dug into your “Adopt A Golden” dog loving guardian angel hearts and paid her expenses so that she could have a second chance at life.
Let me tell you what was going on in our lives at about that same time… My husband, Kevin, and my sons, Ryan (9) and Sean (6) were in the process of saying good bye to our Lillian. Lily joined Kevin and me as a six week old 8 lb golden pup three months after we were married. We thought, at the time, that we were raising her, but what I have since learned is that she raised us. Lillian was the quintessential Golden Retriever – loving, good tempered, family devoted, food obsessed. To know Lily was to love Lily and she was at her best at any gathering of children. Lillian was there as I brought both of my sons home from the hospital as babies and sat at my feet for every single midnight feeding. Lily came to the beach with us, slept in the bed with us and was the definition of unconditional love.
For all of these reasons, you can imagine our heartbreak as we learned of her terminal illness in the early summer. As a hospice nurse, I was aware that Lily was aging and navigating relatively severe arthritis. She became noticeably ill in June and was hospitalized for pancreatitis. Lily was released three days later, but didn’t return to her “baseline”. When I brought her back to the vet, we learned she had a large tumor on her spleen. At age 12, with arthritis, multiple lipomas, and other respiratory issues, she was most certainly not a surgical candidate. So we brought her home to love her as best as we could. Which we did, successfully, for several weeks. Through love and steroids, we were even able to get Lillian to the beach for a family vacation at the end of July one last time. But just like I see with so many of my patients in hospice, that was all she had left in her. Every night after we returned she panted all night long and in the middle of the sixth night as I woke to check on her, she gave me the look that told me she had given all she could give. So two days later, our loving vet came to our home, and with her head in my lap and peanut butter in her mouth, Lillian went to heaven.
I should have known that Lillian, who was an angel on earth, wouldn’t stop her work just because she wasn’t on earth any more. Lillian was listening. She was listening to a dog, who was in a shelter, who was lost and scared and who needed love. I think that dog was Bo Peep. So in whatever ways the miracles of the universe work, four other angels heard Bo Peep: the two of you, Lauren, and Donna A. Were it not for you both, Bo Peep would not be alive. Lauren rescued her and Donna fostered her and nursed her back to health. At least that is how I understand it. Bobby and Jeanne, you are incredible to me. You saved a dog you didn’t know to go live with a family you’d probably never meet because it was the right thing to do. You could have easily used the money it took to save Bo Peep for something for your home, an indulgence, a treat for each of you. Instead, you extended yourselves anonymously so that another family could be richer for the love of a dog.
Well I hope you know, and I am here to tell you, your investment was well worth it and the return, for my family, has been enormous. The four of us took some time to grieve Lillian. We also moved our home within the same neighborhoood, so we knew we couldn’t make any commitments until we were settled. Once in our new home, Kevin and I quickly completed applications for a rescue golden and rushed to get our home survey done. The Friday before Thanksgiving I received a call from Donna, an AGA volunteer. She told me about Bo Peep and asked if we would like to meet her. Donna acknowledged she wasn’t a full bred Golden, but was very sweet. We agreed on a meeting at our house the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Bo Peep came to our house politely and timidly. She stayed close to her foster, Donna, but had an eye on my sons. We tried to take her outside to our large, flat, fenced back yard, but she was reluctant, so we came back inside. As Donna and I spoke, my sons rolled tennis balls in Bo Peep’s direction. For several minutes, she ignored them – and then she caught one – an a flicker in her eyes ignited. We all went back outside and Bo Peep came alive. She played fetch tirelessly, did 360 rolls, and only stopped for belly rubs and cuddles, which she welcomed. It was purely holy to observe. Donna left and my family convened to decorate the Christmas tree. Or so we thought… Neither me nor Kevin nor Ryan nor Sean could concentrate on anything but Bo Peep. Our hearts were alive again with love and we wanted her THAT night. We called Donna and through herculean efforts on both her part and Lauren’s, we prepared to adopt Bo Peep the next night. I think each member of my family went to bed that night feeling a warmth in our hearts we hadn’t felt since Lily left us.
The night of Bo Peep’s adoption has a special detail that I would like to share with you. First of all, after we learned that we could adopt Bo Peep, we decided to rename her to one that suited her and made her our own. She is a phenomenally gorgeous dog, so both of my sons nominated and agreed upon the name Bella. On adoption night, after all the paperwork was signed for Bella, I told my sons to give Donna, her foster, some time to say good bye since she had done such a good job nursing her back to health (health she would have never achieved without your generosity). I was a little tearful with the emotion of it all. Donna knelt down to give Bella a kiss and my younger son, Sean (6), touched her shoulder and said, “you know, something good is going to happen for you now…” That was all it took to get the water works flowing for both Donna and me.
What Sean articulated at that moment was what I felt for Donna and I feel for both of you – I pray and I feel confident that good things happen to you as reward for the good and generous deeds that you have done. I don’t know the words to express my gratitude. Maybe they don’t exist. All I can do is care for the beautiful loving creature that you saved; raise her and keep her safe.
I am delighted to report Bella is thriving. She has been seen by our at home vet twice and is wholly healthy. We now know she is a Great Pyrenees with a little Kuvasz in her. We couldn’t love her any more. She has a Golden heart and spirit. My boys are delighted with her and play with her every day in the back yard. My husband and I walk her – which we couldn’t do with Lillian for so long because of her arthritis. Bella has a personality that is sometimes bossy and sometimes sassy, but always always loving. She has healed us and we are deeply in love with her.
I can’t thank you enough for what you did for Bo Peep when everyone else was ready to give up on her and I promise you that Bella is now a very happy, very loved, probably spoiled family dog. I have included a picture of her with my older son, Ryan, that I love – because I am so sure that she is smiling.
Love, Jenny, Kevin, Ryan and Sean B.