by: Cheryl Berger

     Every morning I wake up and start my day walking my dog around my neighborhood.  As my dog stops and army crawls to his new best friend, we humans begin a brief conversation about our furry friends.  Sometimes the conversation is brief, but more often than not, a story telling evolves.  The story of how this beautiful creature stole our hearts and entered our lives. 

     It’s the rescue stories that are most excitedly shared.  It always starts with “He/She’s a rescue…”, it’s a badge of honor that people wear, and rightfully so.  It’s these stories that leave me walking home with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. 

     Since moving to our new neighborhood 5 months ago, I have met more rescues and their humans than any other place I’ve lived.  I’ve heard stories of abuse, neglect and abandonment.  But every story ends the same, with love. 

     They’re all love stories.  The kind so heartwarming you want to share the story with the world.  The kind that can not only transform a dog’s life, but also that of their human companions. 

     Although some stories begin with tragedy, it’s the stories of fate I decided to share.  The “one in a million” chance that brought two beings together to form a magical relationship.

 Enter Charli (with a heart over the “i”).  Charli had some rescuing to do when she entered the lives of Sam and Linda Fisher.  Sam and Linda just lost their only son, John in a tragic accident.  Linda was experiencing some extraordinary grief one night and was surfing the internet, when she happened on a site and a pop-up appeared from a rescue organization.  As she clicked the link, which she knew she shouldn’t do, she found a dog that had eyes that “pierced her soul”.  She couldn’t resist.  She messaged the rescue organization and within days Charli became her link back to humanity.  Sam and Linda saved Charli.  But Linda believes it was Charli that saved her.

     Saving was exactly what Marcus and Neil Ackerman were doing when they found Minnie Mae. One rainy cold day on their morning walk, they noticed a head pop up out of some low bushes as they were walking past.  It was a big head; unlike any dog they’d ever seen.  Attached to the big head was a set of sad and frightened eyes.  Marcus and Neil looked at each other and knew what they had to do.  Helping this large creature wasn’t an easy task.  They tried everything to coerce this beast out of the bushes, food, sweet talking, a leash.  When Marcus became frustrated with the task at hand, he left to go get more treats and more items to entice the creature from the bushes.  As Marcus arrived in the car, the 160-pound mastiff stood up, walked to the car and stepped right inside the back seat.  As they drove home the frightened girl rested her head on Neil’s shoulder. They knew she would be their first child.  Minnie is now the older sister to Maxxie, their pitty rescue.  Without Minnie entering their lives that rainy cold morning, Marcus and Neil wouldn’t have experienced the joy and love of their two little girls.

            A girl named Rio was a new addition for Mary Fisher.  Mary had a long-time college friend, John.  Mary and John were inseparable in college.  After they graduated, they would talk on the phone daily and visit each other several times a year. One spring day, Mary and her son, Blake were traveling from North Carolina to Dallas when Mary received a call that John had suddenly passed away.  Mary immediately flew to Florida to see what she could do to help.  Upon arriving, Mary helped sort through Johns immediate needs.  John’s mother had been visiting John at the time of his passing and was seeing to the care of his Portuguese water dog, Rio.  Funeral arrangements were made, and gatherings were planned, but no one wanted the responsibility of Rio.  Mary never considered herself a dog person, but she knew Rio needed a stable home environment, especially since the loss of her best friend, John.  So, Mary jumped in the car, drove to Florida and gathered Rio and all her belongings.  Mary is still in the midst of settling John’s affairs, but she has done it with the love and comfort she found in Rio. 

Rio’s story and all the other loves stories are just a brief glimpse of the many rescue stories that exist.  Sometimes it’s a story where a person has visited a shelter and chosen their companion, or maybe it’s a story where fate stepped in and provided love that a human didn’t know they needed. So next time you’re walking and someone says, “He or She’s a rescue…”, stop and listen, you might walk home with a smile on your face and love in your heart.