I woke up today with a memory. And since then, no matter what I busy myself with, it keeps wafting through my consciousness like the scent of a dozen red roses. It comes and it goes, but it demands to be acknowledged. I bury my nose deep within its silky petals because it’s a beautiful memory; one I cherish.
It happened over ten years ago. I was working as a coordinator for a veterinary referral hospital on the coast of New Hampshire. My department was surgery and our board-certified surgeons did the work no other vets could do. From miles around, we received the hardest cases, the most challenging, the heart-breakers. There was nothing they couldn’t do and their work was expensive.
If the price tag right now to save your dog’s life was $5000.00 could you make it happen? Many couldn’t.
On this day, a young golden retriever puppy presented with two shattered femurs. She had escaped the yard when their child left the gate open and was pulverized by a Ram truck on the busy road close by. She was alive and presented wagging her tail, happy to see us. She wore a big smile on her face as if to say, “Why the long faces? What’s the fuss?” Her back legs were virtually destroyed.
$5000.00 was the low estimate, which means the actual repair could go much higher.
They were devastated. She was only a puppy with her whole life to live. They came out into the lobby to make a call to their credit card company, asking to raise their limit. Declined. They burst into tears, both of them. Although there’s a lot of love involved, Veterinary medicine is a business. If they couldn’t afford the surgery, she’d have to be put to sleep. It was one of the details of the job that killed me on a daily basis. But without payment for the services, there would be no services, and that would benefit no one.
Through tears, they decided they had no choice, and asked to be alone with her. They went into an exam room to say their goodbyes. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. We were all sick about it.
And that’s when a stranger, waiting for his dog’s sutures to be removed, nose buried within a newspaper, seemingly oblivious to the emotion charging through the building, calmly stood up and approached the counter. He slid his credit card to the receptionist and told her to charge it for $5000.00. Speechless, she stood like a gasping fish out of water, holding his plastic. “Please hurry,” he said. “I don’t want them to know it was me. I wish to remain anonymous.” There was no emotion on his face.
She ran the card and the stranger left with his dog. I was blessed with the task of entering that exam room to inform the family that their guardian angel just ambled through, granting them a full life with their cherished canine. The power of that moment was indescribable.
Today that dog would be ten or twelve years old. I wonder if they think about that man every time she wags her tail, licks their face, chases a tennis ball…? I wonder if he truly was a man at all, or an angel that walks this earth. Sometimes there’s no distinction.
I share this because this is my intention on this day of 12/21/12. I want us to walk into a world where we all help each other, not fight each other. I want us to walk into a world where our hearts lead, so we can reach higher and do better. I’m allowing the energy of this man – this angel – to guide the way for this moment in time. This is my love letter to the everyday miracles all around us. They’re everywhere.
If we only choose to look.