Thanks to the San Jose Mercury News for this touching article.
Goldston: Abandoned on a Tennessee road, dog became a lifelong companion
Article Launched: 08/25/2007
On a dark February night, with sleet and rain pounding the windshield, Tim Jones was on his way home back to Memphis.
He was about to make a turn when he saw something that looked like “a frozen ice ball” sitting on the side of the road.
“The only thing that bothered me is that it had eyes,” says Jones, who now lives in Vallejo. “God in his infinite wisdom told me to stop.”
It was a little black dog that had been shot in the chest, sitting under a sign that said “Sharp Curve Ahead.” Icicles had frozen on his fur.
Jones got a towel from the back of his car and placed the little dog on the front seat.
“He yawned real big and lay down. When I put the car in drive, he raised his head and looked at me,” Jones says. “I petted him and said, `You’re all right now.’ “
When Jones took the dog to the vet the next morning, he feared he’d never see him again. “This dog is in such shape, he probably needs to be put down,” he told the vet.
“They called in a few days and wanted to know exactly where I’d found this dog. (They said) he was very highly trained. When the UPS guy would deliver some boxes, the dog would sniff the box on the top, then push it away and sniff the next one,” Jones says.
The vet made calls to police and drug agencies in several surrounding states, but no drug-sniffing dogs were missing. And the dog did not have the tattoo certified drug dogs have. Because the dog had been found in an area known for drug farms and dealers, the vet said the little dog probably was a trained guard dog.
He asked Jones if he wanted to come pick him up.
“Out came this beautiful dog, big brown eyes, fuzzy tail up in the air,” Jones says. “The vet said `go say hello’ to the dog. He went over, sat down next to me and put his head in my lap. The vet said, `If you’ll take the dog and give me $6 for the rabies tag, I’ll throw the nearly $900 bill in the garbage.’ “
The dog had been shot with a rifle and a shotgun, but the bullet had gone straight through, and the shotgun pellets were not life-threatening. The vet estimated that he was about 3 years old.
Jones named him Reject, and the friendship that began 13 years ago on that freezing, rainy night became a lifeline when Jones lost his eyesight for awhile. When it came back, he could only see very low contrast below his nose.
Reject was retrained to be Jones’ service dog, and he served with honor and extraordinary loyalty until July 1, when he died in Jones’ arms.
The dog traveled the world with Jones, sitting at his feet on numerous planes, and he became well known among pilots and flight attendants.
“Everybody knew his name,” Jones says. “Nobody knew my name.”
Reject did not let Jones out of his sight inside the house and “put himself in death’s way” three times, using his body to block Jones from being hit by cars.
“This was truly a match made in heaven,” says Judy Santiago of Sunnyvale, a close friend. “Tim’s peripheral vision is very limited, and while he can see straight ahead, he doesn’t see anything below his nose. Reject took over that portion of his sight and became his eyes on the ground.”
Reject also never failed to go over to a senior citizen or a child who was ill. He’d put his head in their lap and just sit there.