Friday, July 3, 2020
When Ken Lost Zack He Learned the Value of Friends and Strangers
On Sunday, I told you a story about a mom who followed her pup into the dark. It was a joyful reunion. But, it doesn’t work like that all the time. Seniors lose their dogs tragically every day and do not immediately follow. But there are times when the passing can still be a life-changing event that restores people’s faith in humanity.
Ken is an 80-year-old man who lived with his beloved dog Zack in a retirement community, much like ours. They were seldom seen on the site, except when they took their daily walk. Ken would offer a friendly hello but no conversation.
Two weeks ago, Ken found himself in a situation where he had to rely on the people who he had been successfully shunning for years.
A neighbor of Ken’s, Carol Burt, was considered the development’s dog expert, having fostered pups, and successfully diagnosed the ailments of pets in the community. She was startled by a loud banging on her door. When she answered, she was told that Ken needed her desperately.
Carol was told that Ken needed her because Zack was very ill. Carol rushed to the house and found Ken holding Zack, who was in severe distress. Ken was in tears. He knew his beloved dog was in failing health, and he did not have the money for the needed veterinary visit.
Carol needed to raise money quickly. None of the neighbors had funds to spare, so Carol took to social media. She put a story about Zack’s plight on Facebook. She figured she might raise $100.00. Within an hour, she got a call from the founder of the At-Choo Foundation, a rescue that usually raised money for rescue dogs but also helped those in need. Carol was instructed to take Zack to the vet right away. The rescue would cover the cost.
Carol ran back to Ken’s house and told him to get his coat because Zack had an appointment with the doctor. Unfortunately, Zack was already too close to the Bridge to save. Ken wept uncontrollably when he said goodbye to Zack. Carol took a snapshot to commemorate the moment. She sent the picture to Elaine Seamans, the founder of At-Choo rescue, who recognized the picture was the perfect embodiment of the pain every parent feels when they say goodbye.
Elaine put the picture on her website and asked if her followers could end Ken's condolence cards. Thousands of people responded with cards, letters, an offer from an artist to paint a picture of Zack and Ken, and a pledge from someone to pay for food for Ken’s next dog for life.
When Carol brought the cards to Ken, who had been struggling mightily with Zack’s passing, the gentleman was overwhelmed that so many people he did not know would be kind to him. As Carol sat with Ken, his tears alternated from sorrow to happiness.
Unfortunately, the onrush of emotions was too much for Ken, and he had a heart
attack. It could have been another parent and child reunion at the Bridge, but the talented doctors kept Ken on the mortal side. Carol visited him every day with more cards, letters, home-cooked meals, and, most importantly, one of her fosters to fill the tremendous need in his heart for canine affection.
But, the time with the foster dogs only lasts so long. Ken’s eyes will drift to the plaque honoring Zack that was gifted upon him, and the little box with Zach’s remains, and Carol knows that Zack is visiting as a ghost and leaves so the two of them can have time together.
Carol has reported that her followers have pledged, when Ken is ready, to pay for the adoption fees for a new pup. Currently, Zack is interviewing hundreds of dogs for the position. Ken does not have to worry about food and vet bills, that has all been paid for. All he has to do is love his new companion with his heart for all the days of his life.
The truth is, while the humans all rightfully feel that their generosity has inspired Ken to go on and to get another pup, it was Zack pulling strings all along. He knows his dad is a fantastic pet parent and wants at least one more dog to know the pleasure of living with him. To make that possible, Zack and his angel friends did all of it, the inspiration to take, send and post the picture, the raising of money, the pledges, and giving his dad the will to go on. From the perspective of the mortal, it looked like the residue of human caring and understanding, but we angels know who was truly behind it.
All that matters is another dog knows Ken's love. Zack won't rest until he finds the fortunate soul.