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My Great Big Miracle

May 16, 2012

Yep, two personal posts in a row. On Monday I’d fully intended to do a little bit of bookish blogging; that is, until 11:30 in the morning, when my world turned upside down. Fifteen minutes earlier I’d let Thistle out in the backyard, as I’ve done hundreds of times before. But this time, when I opened the door and called her in, she wasn’t there. And she wasn’t in the house. After five or ten minutes of stunned, disbelieving calling and extra-careful searching, my mom and I split up to canvas the area. Neither of us saw her; she might as well have disappeared into thin air. Even worse, I’d been grooming her in preparation for her bath, and she wasn’t wearing her collar and tags (she is microchipped but that’s only readable by a vet or shelter). So I knew that it was very likely someone had found her, and that whoever it was had no idea where she belonged.

And so launched Operation Bring Thistle Home. Over the next thirty three hours, I designed and printed over a hundred fliers, which my mother and I then nailed into various telephone poles, stuffed into mailboxes, and distributed to businesses. I also e-mailed a pdf version to every vet clinic I could find an e-mail address for; then I compiled a mailing list of clinics in our zip code and all of the eight bordering zip codes and addressed fliers to them all. I haunted every website I could think of, while that evening my mom made the long drive to our biggest shelter to look in every kennel in the four buildings for Thistle. We were both making that drive again yesterday evening when I received a phone call: a woman had seen the flier a business local cheap Mexican restaurant (Taco Cabana for my fellow Texans) whose manager had kindly let me leave them right next to the register. She told me she’d seen Thistle running in the street near her apartment building about a mile and a half from my house, but a girl had called her over and brought her into the neighbouring complex before she could do anything.

After another fruitless check in the shelter, my mom and I drove to the complex but found it gated and the manager’s office closed. I walked along the sidewalk, frustrated and contemplating hopping the fence, and found the mail center. We waited a few minutes, until a resident arrived to get his mail. After I explained the situation, he happily accepted some fliers through the fence so he could put them up on the bulletin board. A few seconds later, he came back out holding another flier with the words ‘Found’ on top and a photo of Thistle underneath. At this point Mom and I might have begun crying. I quickly dialed the number, and after some understandably cautious questioning, the woman agreed to come down and meet me. I waited for what felt like an eternity, trying to hold it together and guess which direction they’d come from, when suddenly a couple and teenage girl came around the corner holding Thistle in her arms. I yelled her name, she raced over to me, and Mom and I began crying in earnest. The wonderful family explained that they’d seen her almost get hit by two different cars before the girl had darted out in the street to get her, and that she’d been a quiet and sweet houseguest. The woman even told me she’d trimmed Thistle’s nails! (I’d been intending to do that after her bath.) A profuse amount of thanks later, and a grateful if likely overexcited call to the good samaritan who had taken the time to give me the tip, and we were on our happy way home.

If you know me (and if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I suspect you do), you’ll know that I don’t throw around words like miracle. But this? Thistle returning safe and sound despite a complete lack of identification and a route which included crossing two large, two-lane streets, and a couple side ones for good measure? This is a miracle, built on the backs of people’s goodness. While those thirty-three hours were the worst of my life, they were also a powerful reminder of the goodness of humanity. From the neighbourhood banding together to offer support and keep an eye out to all of the people working in nearby businesses who mentioned their sightings or agreed to display fliers, not to mention all of those vets who quickly replied to an e-mail from a stranger and were happy to print out and display the flier, and of course both the woman who immediately called me with her tip and then answered my later return call about apartment access and the family who saved Thistle from any possible car accident and took such incredible care of her, the kindness of all of these strangers threatens to overwhelm me.

Thistle was already one of the most important things in my life, and I daily bless the circumstances that brought her to me. Now, when I look at her sleeping beside me as I type, I see not only her own incredible self but also everything that is best about people. I didn’t think it was possible for Thistle to bring more hope and love into my life; yet, here I am, brimming over with just such things. And as with every good thing and happy story in my life, I immediately wanted to share it with all of you.

And don’t worry. Measures are in place to ensure this never, ever happens again. Because while I would move heaven and earth to get her home, it turns out it’s simpler to keep her here in the first place. ;)

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62 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2012 6:07 am

    Wow, what a story! How wonderful to find her back, and quite a way from home, too. I wonder what she had in mind when she escaped from the garden…

  2. May 16, 2012 6:11 am

    Wonderful to see this story had a happy ending. I can imagine your dismay at her loss. We had a dog who got away a few times like that and my heart would just drop out wondering if we would ever find him. Thankfully the one time he had a long adventure like Thistle did, we were out of town and his former owners were watching him. They had to deal with the stress that time, lol! I’m so happy for you both that you are reunited safe and sound.

  3. May 16, 2012 6:26 am

    I had tears in my eyes as I read that so I can just imagine the water works you and your mom had going when Thistle was found. I’m so glad she’s safe and sound.

  4. May 16, 2012 7:00 am

    I am with Kathy on this. I am blubbing like a child. I am so glad you found Thistle!

  5. May 16, 2012 7:17 am

    That is a hopeful story, all around. So glad you got her back safe and sound.

  6. May 16, 2012 8:24 am

    So so glad Thistle made it back home, where she belongs, safe and sound! I can only imagine what a wreck I would be if one of our dogs went missing, so I am glad you were able to push through the terror and get your little girl back!

  7. May 16, 2012 8:53 am

    I’m so glad this all turned out well for all of you!

  8. May 16, 2012 8:56 am

    A fine post, written with feeling. Glad that Thistle was found safely. Yes indeed there are lovely people all around us wiling to share thier love for humanity in so many ways.

  9. rhonda permalink
    May 16, 2012 9:01 am

    So so happy. THISTLE is at home.we love our puppy and all the joy he brings so I can imagine your terror. Such a happy ending! !

  10. jeanlp permalink
    May 16, 2012 9:47 am

    How scary for you! I’m glad everything has turned out OK. :)

  11. jenn aka the picky girl permalink
    May 16, 2012 10:14 am

    This post (the good parts) makes me so happy. I completely understand Thistle being one of the most important things in your life, and I know the absolute terror when something is wrong with your dog. I’m so thankful that she made her way back to you because yes, no matter if she walked back or dozens of people helped her along her way, she made it back to you. :)

  12. May 16, 2012 10:19 am

    I’m so glad that Thistle is safe and sound. Yes, it does renew my faith in humanity.

  13. May 16, 2012 10:22 am

    So glad there was a happy ending!!

  14. May 16, 2012 10:24 am

    Oh wow! That is a miracle indeed. I’m glad that Thistle is okay and back home safe with you.

  15. May 16, 2012 10:37 am

    YAY! Thistle looks like the fuzziest cute face ever!

  16. bookgazing permalink
    May 16, 2012 10:42 am

    How lucky that you got her back ok. She must be quite the escape artist, because I’m sure you and your family already had strong measures for her safety in place. Nice to know people will take care of an unfamiliar dog if she pulls a Houdini – gives you faith.

    • May 16, 2012 10:59 am

      We have a giant backyard & the back fence runs at an angle & has trees planted in front of it, so there’s one corner that isn’t really visible unless you’re standing right next to it. We inspected it all when we adopted her and my dad nailed some new boards across questionable bits, but she’s never shown any inclination to get out, so I hadn’t really given it another thought. We’ve had a lot of very crazy storms lately, and I suspect the wind & rain & hail managed to knock the oldish wood a little off kilter so she could push her way through. Or it could be that the ground was softened from all of the rain, allowing her to dig under, although we couldn’t find a hole. :( I’m getting a long stake-out lead today that she’ll have to be on in the yard until I figure out for sure all the possible holes/escape places.

  17. May 16, 2012 11:13 am

    Ah Eva, this story brought tears to my eyes. I’m so happy to hear your beloved Thistle is back home safe and sound thanks to the kindness of your neighbours!

  18. May 16, 2012 12:31 pm

    I’m so glad you found her! Losing a pet is horrible. I can’t wait to get home and give my cats an extra hug tonight!

  19. May 16, 2012 12:43 pm

    Huge lump in my throat right now. Oh Eva, I am so so so incredibly happy that you got your baby back!!! I’m just so sorry that you and your family and poor little Thistle had to go through that 33 hours. *huge hugs*

  20. May 16, 2012 12:45 pm

    OMG I am so happy your precious dog was found safe! What a story!

  21. May 16, 2012 12:50 pm

    CRYING AT WORK!!! Oh, Eva! I’m so glad you got her home, and I’m so glad you were able to do that through the kindness and wonderfulness and help of others. Such a sweet story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  22. May 16, 2012 1:28 pm

    Oh what a freakin’ relief. So glad to hear that things turned out well for your furry one.

  23. May 16, 2012 2:37 pm

    Oh dear! I nearly had tears in my eyes thinking what you must have felt and gone through. I am also so glad that everything ended happily and that so many wonderful people helped you :) Thank you for sharing this!

  24. May 16, 2012 3:22 pm

    I know how heartbreaking is to lose a dog. :/ So I skimmed over the post to make sure Thistle’s OK and with you. What a relief! Send her a big hug from my part and tell her to never run away like that!

  25. May 16, 2012 3:33 pm

    What a terrible few hours you must have had but so very glad the story has a happy ending.

  26. boardinginmyforties permalink
    May 16, 2012 4:47 pm

    I am so happy that this story has a happy ending and that Thistle found her way home. She really is a miracle doggie in so many ways!

  27. May 16, 2012 5:35 pm

    Oh, thank goodness! I can’t imagine how upset you must have been. Welcome home, Thistle!

  28. Ruthiella permalink
    May 16, 2012 5:40 pm

    Oh, that post made me cry too. I am so happy you found her! My dog once ended up in my neighbor’s yard, even though I too thought my back yard was escape proof. I still don’t know exactly how Pete the poodle managed it, but I actually had to remove a loose plank to get him back in his own yard and then nail the plank back into place. Houdini!

  29. May 16, 2012 5:43 pm

    Add me to the list of teary readers. I’m so glad this story not only had a happy ending for Thistle and your family but also reveled an uplifting glimpse of humanity.

  30. May 16, 2012 5:49 pm

    So glad things worked out well. I lost my English bull Terrier (Frodo) once when a girl took him and I’m too disabled to go after her. I got him back but I was nearly hysterical until I did. I can only imagine what a drain on your health that experience was for you. Take care and keep Thistle close.

  31. May 16, 2012 5:54 pm

    I know we chatted on Twitter about this, but reading the story in its entirety brought tears to my eyes! You are completely right about this being a miracle. I’m so glad you got your baby girl back. :)

  32. May 16, 2012 7:11 pm

    Wow! What a story! I’m glad that it had a happy ending :)

  33. May 16, 2012 7:15 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m so glad Thistle came back to you safe and sound. People can be absolutely amazing! I was slightly stressed and sad reading this story even though it was obvious that Thistle had been found.

  34. May 16, 2012 7:16 pm

    Aw!! Making me cry! I’m so so so so so glad she made it back home safely to you. Hugs to all of you and what wonderful people to help make this happen!

  35. May 16, 2012 7:32 pm

    I am SO GLAD you got her back, safe and sound. I am always surprised by the wonderful things people do for each other. It is nice to be reminded. :)

  36. May 16, 2012 8:29 pm

    What a horrible feeling that must have been. I am so glad that you got your miracle and Thistle was found, and that she got a pedicure out of it as well!

  37. May 16, 2012 9:42 pm

    I heard an edited version of this on Twitter last night, but I still wanted to say I am glad you got her back. That’s why Casey is not allowed out. A cat is a bit different, but people drive like maniacs and I wouldn’t be able to handle it!

  38. aartichapati permalink
    May 16, 2012 9:57 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad you got Thistle back safe and sound!

  39. May 16, 2012 10:46 pm

    Ooooh! I am so glad you got Thistle back safely :( I had the same happen with my dog growing up and I remember how horrible it is!

  40. May 17, 2012 3:30 am

    I’m so pleased this story had a happy ending. There are lots of good people in the world.

  41. May 17, 2012 7:52 am

    I am so glad you found her and she was safe. Several years ago our cat, sadly since passed away, went missing for 10 days. We didn’t put fliers up at the time because my mum had said he’d gone missing before, when I was younger, but as the time went on we worried. Luckily he just turned up one day looking his normal self, but it made me ensure to give him all the more affection and thankfully that was the last time it happened. We did have the neighbourhood on the look out, and everyone was so supportive.

  42. May 17, 2012 9:01 am

    I’ve seen grown men cry when Manchester City Soccer team won the English Premier League. Ridiculous. Only cry for family, friends and your pets. Wonderful that your best friend is safe @ home again.

  43. May 17, 2012 1:37 pm

    oh I d lost my head if winston went ,so please she is back ,all the best stu

  44. May 17, 2012 8:16 pm

    Also one who read this with tears in my eyes. So glad she got back to you safe and that people were looking out for her and you.

  45. May 18, 2012 9:13 am

    O wow, you got me all teary with this post :,) I’m so glad it all turned out well!

  46. May 18, 2012 10:13 am

    Wonderful, wonderful news! Thank you for telling us.

  47. May 18, 2012 12:47 pm

    I can see Thistle’s eyes twinkling. Who knows, she did it on purpose, to restore our faith in humanity? Good old Thistle. Hugs.

  48. May 18, 2012 6:15 pm

    This must have been truly frightening. I’m so happy to hear that it all worked out so well and that so many people were so happy to help.

  49. May 20, 2012 6:29 am

    Oh how scary! Our pups will generally stick around if they get out, these days, but they’re also much easier to spot, being about 65lbs and all. :O) They did make a run for it the first month we were in our new house and launched themselves into a river bed where they rolled around for over twenty minutes before I managed to drag them from the mud. My heart was in my throat the entire time, I tell you what! I’m so glad everyone is home safe and sound!

  50. Jane Fairfax permalink
    May 20, 2012 8:31 am

    So happy she is back with you!

  51. May 21, 2012 8:27 pm

    Thistle come home!! Glad doggie and owner are reunited!!

  52. May 22, 2012 7:00 am

    I’m so happy that you got Thistle back. She looks like the cutest little thing. There’s (almost) nothing scarier than having your pet be missing. They are such a huge part of our lives, even when they are tiny. So lucky that she was safe and unharmed!

  53. May 23, 2012 8:06 am

    Your story made me cry – and then go hug my little dog.
    I’m so glad you found her. Those 33 hours must have been horrific. I can’t imagine. I feel very much the same way about my little Daisy. She has been such a gift in my life in so many hard-to-explain ways. I’m truly grateful for her.
    So very happy that you have little Thistle back safe and sound. Cheers to both of you!
    ~Nicki

  54. May 23, 2012 5:20 pm

    Your pictures and story made me laugh and cry, and I’m not even a dog person! I always enjoy reading your blog. :)

  55. May 25, 2012 1:44 pm

    Hello Eva – what a frightening experience, I am so glad that it ended well. How kind people were! And Thistle is adorable, naughty pup.

  56. May 26, 2012 2:34 pm

    I had tears in my eyes as I read this story. I am so glad that Thistle continues to bring goodness and love to your life!!

  57. May 28, 2012 11:00 am

    I’m so glad to hear that you got her back safe, sorry to hear about your ordeal, it must have been so stressful. Hugs!

  58. May 29, 2012 11:32 am

    As a fellow Texan writer, I can tell you that my pound puppy read this story while holding his breath.

  59. June 7, 2012 7:36 am

    I’m so glad this ended happily and that you titled this post such because I would have been a blubbering mess after the first paragraph. SO happy that Thistle has you and you have Thistle. Hugs

  60. June 12, 2012 10:07 am

    I’m so glad you found her:)

  61. August 8, 2012 3:04 am

    That is such a wonderful end to a reather worrying story. Glad you got Thistle home safe and sound. We haven’t let Oscar out yet (one more set of injections and a snip then he is free to roam) but I know I will be panicking when we do. Glad Thistle is safe and back with you.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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