On my way down I-75 South with the Brittany I’d dubbed Oakley to meet my brother Ken at a picnic table in Little Ocmulgee State Park near McRae, Georgia, this sweet dog and I had one important stop to make before continuing our journey. Ken and I had chatted about all the necessities of welcoming a dog. He had parted with Feivel’s feeding bowls and dog bed and would definitely need some flea and tick shampoo. So I did what any dog’s favorite aunt would do with her new niece – – I took her shopping at PetSmart in Macon, where I put her in the buggy and took her on a girls’ shopping spree for some customized canine pampering. $an$insane$amount$ later, we resumed our trek down the interstate, fully stocked with a bag of food and toppers, feeding dishes, a slicker brush, some dental treats, a bag of calming bites with CBD oil, a bed, a harness, a leash and collar in University of Georgia Bulldog red, a bully stick, a bird dog toy, a ball, and a large bottle of flea and tick shampoo. If my dog-loving family had anything to do with it, her days of being hungry and uncomfortable were over.
When we arrived at the state park, I saw Ken’s burgundy Toyota pickup truck parked in front of one of the group picnic shelters. He was outside waving both arms high in the air, as if I”d been arriving in a small aircraft. I pulled up next to him, his neck straining to see into the back seat of my RAV4 to catch his first glimpse of this sweetheart of a girl.
When he opened the door, Oakley and Ken locked eyes and he sat next to her for several minutes before we got out and walked up under the sheltered picnic table area. There, they interacted for a while before we helped her make the transition to his car for the second leg of the journey home. She ate treats from his hand and sat next to him, lapping a full bottle of water from her new stainless steel dish.
“You got a name picked out?” I asked him.
“Yes, actually, I like the name Kasa. In the Hopi language, it means ‘dressed in fur,’ and in Spanish the word casa means ‘home.’ I like the dual meaning. And it fits her. She’s got a home now.”
How delightful, I thought to myself. What a beautiful, meaningful name for a dog coming home – – especially the dog of a real estate agent.
Ken’s friend Kathy, who volunteers at a local shelter, explained the 3-3-3 principle of canine rescue. It takes three days for them to acclimate to their new surroundings and warm up to the new person, three weeks to learn the routines and expectations, and three months to settle in and accept that they now have a place where they belong. As a Dog Whisperer, Ken knows the importance of taking things at Kasa’s pace, and began with a warm bath – which Kathy advised him to sit in with the dog. To his surprise, he found that she completely relaxed all her weight on him as if she were a princess enjoying a day spa treatment. He picked 30 ticks off of her, and she didn’t flinch at all.
As they awaited her vet appointment, he took pictures of her and shared them with me, describing the progress they were making together in their bonding journey. I cheered when he called with an optimistic vet report. It turns out that Ken’s regular vet was out of the office, and the vet that Kasa saw is a rescuer of Brittanys – – one of those signs along the way that God is at work in all that is happening with this pair finding each other. Kasa got her shots, a treatment for ticks, fleas, and (just in case) worms, and had a foot x-ray that showed that some of the smaller bones were fractured around the wound – but nothing that would not heal back to full mobility. She’s been confirmed as a two to three year old Brittany who knows some commands and is believed to have once belonged to someone as a pet. She was prescribed an antibiotic and some pain medicine with an anti-inflammatory, and given a plan for a dental cleaning and spaying. Most of all, she got a clean bill of health and a master who is over the moon excited – along with family and a community all pulling for the two of them to rediscover in each other the joy of love in a canine/human bond.
The Matchmaker never knows where the magic comes from in what she sees. She prays and asks God to bless her people, and she waits and makes herself ready for whatever is revealed, even when it’s far outside the realm of what she may have been thinking. I’m grateful that the couple who fed her for a week sought a loving home for her. It’s no small miracle that she survived as a stray where coyotes howl through the night (we’ve seen them in our yard in the daytime on several occasions, and they leave their trademark persimmon-laden calling cards in our driveway frequently).
I’m convinced now more than ever that the match has less to do with the dog breed and the mere human need, but far more to do with the hearts of willingness to live and to love in both the dog and the person – the commitment and the sacrifice in the face of a climb. They must each have needs that the other can meet, and they must both make investments of love, trust, and commitment to each other.
And just like that, a miracle happens. A new little family is born.
Cheers for many years of bliss to The Dog Whisperer and Kasa from their tribe of people who love them and can’t wait to be part of their new life together!
*According to PetSmart, July 11-17 is National Adoption Week for Pet Smart Charities and The Anti-Cruelty Society. From Tuesday through Friday, I have shared the story of my brother’s journey with his new companion. I hope his story inspires readers to make a difference in the life of a dog (or a cat) by rescuing pets who need a chance! For further inspiration, read Tom Ryan’s books Following Atticus and Will’s Red Coat and follow him on Twitter at @Tom_Sam_Emi