In January, I took my very old dog Rusty to the vet for the last time. Rusty had been a stray, found in a neighboring state. I had adopted him from the local animal shelter and we had been together for over seven years. Now his liver was failing and he was very ill and in pain. Sadly, it was time to let him go.
Once the vet gave the injection and Rusty peacefully passed on, I went back out to my truck for Rainbow. She was Rusty’s pal, a much younger and higher energy dog. I led Rainbow in to see Rusty, so she wouldn’t wonder what had happened to him, then took her back out to the truck.
Before driving home, I was compelled to go back in to the clinic to get Rainbow a chew toy. I knew she would be lonely as the only dog and would need something to keep her busy. Inside, a blue Australian Cattle Dog (ACD, a.k.a. blue heeler) was standing at the counter with an unfamiliar woman. I was surprised because I didn’t see cattle dogs often and hadn’t seen one at our vet clinic before. I asked the woman if it was okay to pet her dog. I told her that I had just lost my cattle dog mix a few minutes earlier. She encouraged me to pet the blue girl, Opal, and told me that she had a red puppy in her van. He was the last one of the litter and needed a new home. People on her waiting list had been looking for blues. I told her that I had another red heeler mix (Rainbow) in the truck and that we like the reds at our house!
I hadn’t even thought about where my next dog would come from. Rusty was very old, but had only recently shown signs of illness. The woman, Louanne, told me that while she was driving to the clinic, she’d been overcome by a peaceful feeling that the red puppy would soon find his new home. She offered to bring him over to meet me. At first I resisted, telling her I couldn’t make a decision on a new dog right away and that Rainbow was probably upset about Rusty passing on. I didn’t know how much more emotion my heart could take that day. But Louanne brought the red pup over. To my complete astonishment, he had Rusty’s double red mask and red ears (Louanne had not seen Rusty). He was a very nice, bold, playful puppy and I was taken with him right away. He and Rainbow got along from the beginning. I didn’t want to make an emotional decision, so I asked Louanne for references. Rainbow and I needed to grieve Rusty’s passing. I was exhausted and needed time to think. Louanne and I exchanged information and Rainbow and I went home. I kept thinking about that red puppy, feeling like he belonged with us. It was clear that Rainbow needed a playmate. I did my homework, contacted Louanne’s references, and two weeks later Bandit joined our family.
The amazing thing is that I had made an appointment for the vet to come to my home at the end of the day to put Rusty down. But Rusty was suddenly in so much pain that I didn’t want to make him wait, and drove him to the clinic. Louanne lived over an hour away and this was not her regular vet. She had been referred to my vet for Opal to have a special procedure, and had brought puppy Bandit along for the ride. If I hadn’t gone back in to get Rainbow a chew toy, Opal would not have caught my eye at the front counter, and I would not have met Louanne, or Bandit. I believe the sequence of events that brought Bandit to me were not a coincidence. In his pain, Rusty led me to the only red ACD puppy for miles. Bandit was Rusty’s gift to Rainbow and me, to help us heal from the pain of his loss. I think we experienced an everyday miracle and that Bandit was meant to be with us. My mom says that “God winked” that day.
Bandit’s formal name is Hillhaven Bolt Out of the Blue. With his puppy antics and his silly rubber chicken, he brought Rainbow and me back to life. He taught me that sometimes the best friends will find you when you least expect them to, and that paying attention to them is important. Jump on a good opportunity when you see it, because life is too short and you may not get the chance again. Bandit has been a wonderful companion, a perfect fit with my personality who has taught me so much about life. He is my bolt out of the blue, my everyday miracle, and my link back to Rusty.
A limited number of personally signed copies of A Book of Miracles (hard cover), the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book (hard cover and paperback), and 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey & Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog (paperback) are available for purchase. Please contact me directly at jenny@8StateKate.net with BOOK REQUEST in the subject line. Find more information at www.8StateKate.net.
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