My Great Big Miracle
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. ;)