To some, pets always come first


“The hastily scrawled sign on the crumpled cardboard read: BROKE – NEED DOG FOOD. The desperate young man held the sign in one hand and a leash in the other as he paced back and forth on the busy corner in downtown Las Vegas. Attached to the leash was a husky pup no more than a year old.

“Not far from them was an older dog of the same breed, chained to a lamppost. He was howling into the brisk chill of the approaching winter evening, with a wail that could be heard for blocks. It was as though he knew his own fate, for the sign that was propped next to him read: FOR SALE.”

– from Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul

Lori Mohr tells this story of the “innocent homeless,” the day she saw a young man begging for food for his dogs.

She approached the man and learned that he had come to the area to look for work and hadn’t found anything yet, so he and his two pets were living out of his dilapidated truck. A mechanic and a welder, the young man thought he would have no trouble landing a job, but was learning otherwise.

While he said he didn’t want to sell the two dogs who were his only family, he felt he was going to have to part with them since he couldn’t afford to feed them.

“Seeing people beg for food isn’t anything new in this city. But this man stood out because he wasn’t asking for food for himself. He was more concerned with keeping his dogs fed than with his own welfare,” Mohr writes.

After telling the man to wait right there, Mohr went to the nearest grocery store and spent a little more than $100 to buy peanut butter and jelly, bread, canned food, juice and dog food. Forty pounds of dog food.

Friend’s flames. Two weeks ago, my daughter’s best friend couldn’t sleep. Stephanie kept tossing and turning, and suddenly thought she smelled something. She stepped out of her basement bedroom and saw flames straight ahead.

Stephanie handled herself with the grace of a hero, waking each member of the family one by one and getting them outside the flaming house to safety.

When Stephanie’s mother called me early the next morning and told me this, she said, “Stephanie really was the hero – without her, we all might have died, because it all went very fast.”

I woke Caroline and we went over to the grandparents’ home where they all were staying.

Beloved kitty. Stephanie was worried for her little sister, Lacey, who did not yet know that her beloved kitty, Daisy Duke, made it out but then darted back into the house, likely searching for familiar hiding places.

“She is going to be so upset,” Stephanie worried out loud.
Hearts with love. Our pets round out our lives in ways that simply cannot be measured or explained. It touched me that, with all that Stephanie had just endured, she was concerned for the loss of a special pet to a special little 4-year-old girl.

We all have walked around with heavy hearts for this wonderful family, but there will be better days ahead – we can say this from our own heartbreaking experience. Stephanie has a best friend in Caroline who truly can say that she understands exactly what she is going through. One day, by summer, they will be back in their newly remodeled home, safe and happy once again.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my eyes open for a sweet little Daisy Duke look-alike to round out that happy home…


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.