This past Wednesday morning was as routine as they get. Up by 6am, I let Leo out the back door of my friend’s home with his morning cookies. I then sat down to have my cappuccino. I let Leo in 20 minutes later. All was well.
Sometime around 8am, Leo sat at the back door to go outside again. Like every other morning I let him out, not worrying about him, because the backyard was secured. Not more than 15 minutes later, I called him back and discovered that he wasn’t responding to me. My initial reaction was that maybe he was just laying down and didn’t want to be bothered. It was a sunny, dry beautiful morning and there was a crispness in the air. After all of the rain, winds and dampness, I just thought he was enjoying being outside for an extended period of time.
I called for him once again and started to look for where he might be lounging. Still, no Leo. After scoping out the backyard to no avail, I let myself out of the secured gate and walked around to the front of the house, now calling him with my “loud” voice and whistle.
I hastily returned inside, put on my walking shoes, threw on my sweater, grabbed his leash and set off into the neighborhood in search of my 12 year old Australian Shepherd. I retraced every walk we had taken over the past two weeks.
We have been staying at a dear friend’s house for the past two weeks as we transition into a new home. I took the time everyday to establish an easy and reliable routine with Leo, so he would feel comfortable and secure in this new environment. He made new friends quickly on our daily walks through the neighborhood with all the little kids stopping to play with him.
That sinking feeling started to expand in my gut as I continued to call out for Leo. I couldn’t imagine that he had gotten very far. He is older now, and his gait and legs don’t take him as far as they once did. He is slowing down. I’ll admit that I started to think the worst case scenarios. I kept telling myself to not allow my thoughts to go towards the negative aspects of the situation. Keep things positive, look for the good, and don’t doubt the kindness of others was my mantra for the better part of the next 3 hours. Well, I’m being honest when I say, it was very difficult for me.
I drove around the mile radius in the surrounding neighborhood. Nothing. I even thought that maybe Leo tried to go back to our old home. It was less than a half mile away. I contacted all my neighbors and friends to please be on the lookout for this beloved animal.
While this was happening, my son, Rafi, was boarding a return flight from Florida. How could I keep this kind of thing from him? I couldn’t. He offered to put together a flyer and send it to me so that I could get it printed up and distributed.
At this point in the search, I had scoured the neighborhood twice on foot and twice by driving. I hadn’t allowed myself a moment of panic. I just kept looking, in every way possible. It was now 11:00am. Leo had been missing since 8:30am.
As I began one more attempt at walking the neighborhood, my son, Rafi called from his layover in Atlanta. Simultaneously, I received a text from my friend, Marilyn. It was a prayer to St. Anthony. “I recommend what I have lost to your care, in the hope that it will be restored to me, if it is His holy will.” Rafi and I stopped in our tracks and prayed together. Please dear Universe, let me find our DOG!
I asked a young mother across the street if she had seen Leo. “No,” she said, “but you might ask the lady at the end of the cul de sac.” I was rushing towards the end of the street in the fervent hope of getting some kind of sign. As I rang the doorbell, I started to feel that sinking panic in my gut. I quickly told myself to breathe and breathe deeply. There was absolutely no time for negative thoughts. When a gentleman answered the door, I asked if there was someone who belonged to a neighborhood watch group. He quickly called out to his wife, Linda, who listened intently to my plea for information about Leo. She immediately starting calling her next door neighbor, who she said volunteered at the San Diego Humane Society. While she couldn’t get in touch with this lady, she did make contact with the lady’s husband, who told her that he had seen Leo earlier this morning and that his wife had taken Leo to the San Diego Humane Society. Literally within 10 minutes of that prayer to St. Anthony, I had located Leo!
This kind lady told me to start making my way to the Humane Society and she would call them with all of my information and the information that her neighbor had shared. She told me not to waste another precious moment! “Run!”
When the adrenaline runs this high, my thoughts don’t form a cohesive chain of events. My blood pressure must have gone through the roof at some point because I had to calm myself down and remember to breathe. One thing, however, kept sticking out in my mind, “For God’s sake, why didn’t someone just call me? Leo was chipped and had his tags on his collar!”
Twenty minutes later I arrived at the Humane Society and started asking every person I passed for the quickest route to recover my Leo. There was not a person whose path I crossed that did not know of his presence at the facility! That’s Leo! Handsome, truly lovable, warm and kind!
All of the paperwork, ownership verification and fees were complete. Please just bring my dog to me! Just like that, about four hours later, I had Leo in my arms.
He looked straight at me as if to say, “Hey, what’s all the fuss? I have had a great adventure this morning!”
Honestly, the rest of the day was a blur. I was coming down from my adrenaline high and Leo slept away most of the day. I went out to a local pastry shop and picked up three boxes of cookies and croissants to deliver to each of the special souls who were instrumental in helping me find Leo. As I dropped off the small tokens of appreciation, I was still confused as to why no one had called me when they found Leo wandering around that morning.
Then I received a text that brought the whole day into sharp focus. It was from Leo’s guardian angel, Linda. She was the lady who found him in the middle of the busy street trying to make his way home to his old house that morning. His tags were missing. The only thing I could think of was that they had gotten lost at his last grooming appointment. I was able to remember them being on his collar less than a month ago. This truly kind hearted woman had actually taken the time to make certain that another neighbor watched him while she drove up to the fire department to borrow their chip scanner, only to discover that they didn’t have one there. She then returned, picked him up and took him to the local veterinary clinic, where they scanned his chip. There they discovered that none of his information was online. As far as the outside world was concerned, Leo was anonymous.
Faith and the power of prayer is the link that connects us to the source that is much more powerful than we can ever imagine. As I recall the littlest details of that day’s events, I can only conclude that something much greater than me was in play. To have lost and then found Leo within such a short period of time, given the circumstances, is nothing short of my Easter Miracle.