Dogsters are still celebrating Christmas in parts of the world. Here’s beautiful tearjerker for them.
Thanks to Buddy for barking this in!
Martha’s Christmas Miracle
Martha was sitting in her living room watching television this Christmas Eve, alone as she had been for the last five years. All of her children had married and moved to the four corners of the nation, her youngest, a surgery resident at the Vet School across the state had planned on coming home, but had been assigned to work the emergency clinic and couldn’t find a replacement. Martha told herself that having Sally working to help the sick and injured animals this Christmas Eve was worth being alone, besides, Sally would be driving over for Christmas dinner the next afternoon.
All the animals had been fed and now were safely in either the kennel building or lazily laying around the house. Martha had to stop to think how many dogs she had at her house this Christmas; she sighed when she realized there were 16. She did rescue and the number of dogs was always changing with some dogs being adopted, and new abandoned dogs coming in. Feeling overwhelmed by the number of dogs she had and all the dogs still left in shelters to die because there was no room for them in rescue, Martha seriously wondered if she should stop working rescue. If she didn’t have all these dogs, she could have flown to any of her other children’s homes for the holidays to be with family. Besides, the heartbreak of seeing each dog in such need was beginning to really weigh on her.
Tonight she had a new dog, brought home that day. Martha didn’t really plan on adding another dog but on her way home from the store she saw a dog lying on the side of the road. Certain the dog was dead, Martha stopped to pick up the body and take it home for a burial. As she got closer, she recognized the shell of an Alaskan Malamute, the breed she rescued. Covered by cuts and festering wounds, what fur was left was matted and filthy, it was so skinny that laying there you could see each rib and it’s hipbones were the widest part of his body.
With tears in her eyes, mourning for what once had been a majestic animal now reduced to almost a skeleton, she reached down to give the poor dog one last pat on the head. “Oh, you poor boy, what a way to end your life. Well, at least I can name you and give you a decent farewell.” As her tears fell on the dog’s head, one eye slowly opened and the tail gave a single wag.
“You’re alive! Everything will be OK now, I’ll take you home and you will have a soft bed and food tonight,” she said, tears streaming down her face, this time from happiness.
The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning the dog’s wounds and making sure he was able to eat and drink water. Martha set up the large run in the kennel building for him. A soft blanket and a thick foam pad was to be his bed, fresh water and food beside him. Papers for his ‘necessary functions’ were placed at the far end of the run. He lay there watching every move she made.
Martha left the dog resting on his bed, somewhat surprised at the reaction of the rest of the dogs in the kennel. Pandemonium usually broke out with all the other dogs wooing and barking when a new dog was brought in; tonight all the other dogs just stood and silently watched as Martha cared for the new dog. Thankful the other dogs were not disturbing the new boy, Martha went to the house to finish preparations for tomorrow’s dinner.
Later that evening Martha went down to the kennel to check on the new boy and feed the other dogs. As she walked in the door the new boy shakily stood to greet her. As she was straightening up the kennel after feeding and exercising the dogs, she saw her microchip reader. “Well, this will be a waste of time,” she thought as she ran the reader over the dog’s body.
BEEP! The reader had located a chip! Writing the number down, she hurried to the house to call the chip registry and report the found dog. As she suspected on Christmas Eve, all she got was a machine.
Very late that night, the phone rang. Martha answered and a strange voice was on the other end. “Did you find a dog with a microchip?” “Yes, are you the registry needing more information?” Martha asked. “No, the registry called us and told us you found our dog!” and then the man broke down crying. After composing himself, he continued.
“The dog you found is BISS AM/CAN/INT CH Wasilla’s Ice Sculpture, WPD, WTD, WLD, TT, CGC but to us he is our heart, the love of our life, Icy. Three years ago Icy was stolen from his exercise area in our back yard. We did everything we could think of to find him, but lately we had almost given up hope of ever seeing him again. This is a miracle. We are leaving now to come pick him up. We are about 14 hours from you, so we will see you and Icy in the morning.”
Martha was crying; indeed it was a miracle! And the new dog now had a name, his own name and his people were coming for him. What a wonderful Christmas gift.
Martha hurried down to the kennel to let Icy know that his humans had been found and they were on their way to take him home. As Martha walked up to Icy’s kennel, he stood to greet her. “Icy. Yes, I know your name and I have spoken to your people. They’re coming to take you home.” As she was talking to Icy, she heard the old clock in the building strike midnight.
Much to her amazement, Icy said “Thank you.” Martha thought, now I am sure I have been around dogs too long, I could swear I heard Icy speak.
Icy continued “Martha, yes I am talking to you in human language. You see, at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Day, all animals can speak. Let me tell you what happened to me today.”
“I have been kept in a dark barn for a long time by some very mean people who beat me and often forgot to feed me. Two days ago, I found a loose board on the barn and was able to escape. I walked as fast as I could, looking for my people, or at least for some kind person to feed me and give me a warm place to sleep before I died. I was in the middle of a big field when I couldn’t walk or even crawl any more. I laid down, knowing I was about to cross to the Rainbow Bridge. As I stepped onto the Bridge, an Angel came towards me.”
“Icy,” the Angel said, “if you agree, He has a job for you before you cross the Bridge. There is a very kind human who needs you today to restore her spirit.”
“Of course I agreed to help a human — that is what Malamutes do. The Angel picked up my body and carried it to the side of a road and laid it down. The next thing I remember is you scratching my ear and talking to me and your tears were falling on my face. You have cared for me this day.”
Martha heard a chorus of voices all about her. To her amazement she was surrounded not only by her dogs, but dogs she had rescued and sent on to forever homes, all voicing stories how Martha had cared for them and restored them to health and loved them, thanking her for her love.
The first Malamute Martha had rescued many years ago stepped to the front of the gathering and said, “Martha, you took us in to your home, cared for us, healed us both in body and spirit; then, even though it broke your heart, you sent us on to our new forever families. This gave us a life we would never have had without you. Others of us here never were adopted and lived out our lives with you, loved and cared for as if we were your own dogs. In our hearts we are your dogs. Thank you.”
Then one small mixed breed puppy stepped forward from the back and said, “Miss Martha, you never held me nor fed me. You see, I am speaking for all the shelter dogs and cats gathered here for whom you did all you could. We understand that you can’t save us all, but you read our shelter stories, knowing we would cross the Bridge without knowing a home of our own, and you cried for us. We thank you for that. You see, we knew you cared and loved us, too. And that love helped us as we crossed. We thank you and all the other Rescuers for that small act of love.”
Icy looked at Martha and told her, “It is getting late and you will have many people here tomorrow to celebrate Christmas. And you have your rescue work to continue. Our time to be able to talk to you is growing short, but always remember what happened tonight. What you do for the animals is a gift to us and to Him, the Father of us all. Each of us, animals of every species, needs people like you. Please keep on helping. You are doing the work of Angels.”
At that point all of the dogs in unison said, “Thank you,” and their voices blended into a joyous howl which echoed from the heavens to the ends of the earth.
(Humbly offered as a Christmas Gift to all who love animals.
(c)Bilinda Marshall 2007)