IMPRESSIONS by Johnny Teglas

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Lazarus puppy brings to mind ‘tails’ of old

My social-network friends often share snippets of their lives with me and the rest of the cyberworld on a daily basis.
That’s fine. I enjoy keeping up with their comings and goings that way.
To be honest, though, I seldom post much about my world.
I choose to share those thoughts with you here in this space.
While I am known to blog at roanecounty.com, I am much more comfortable offering up ramblings on paper with ink.
I never did, still don’t, and never will claim the thoughts put down in words in this space are serious journalism.
Rather, my purpose is to share … and more importantly, encourage you to share … what matters in our lives.
Lord knows, no matter how similar or different we are, we all share common experience.
Long story short, we face life, death and taxes.
Depending on what circumstance you find yourself in, it’s not hard to rank where you put each of those in your list of priorities.
Today, I want to talk about death and then life — and how both reminded me of something that occurred nearly 30 years ago.
At the risk of irritating my critics who suggest we devote more space to cats and dogs than we do people, did you read or hear about the little puppy that survived euthanasia?
The story broke about two weeks ago in Sulphur, Okla.
In a nutshell, an animal control officer arrived at a local animal shelter, where he found half a dozen malnourished puppies.
Instructions from his supervisor were to put the dogs down. And that’s what he did. He gave them a shot in the foreleg for sedation then inserted a second directly into their hearts.
After being declared dead by a doctor, their remains were dumped in a trash container. The smaller ones went in first followed by the larger ones.
To his surprise, the officer arrived at work the next day to find the container unemptied. To his even greater surprise, one of the tiniest puppies he’d euthanized was alive atop the other dead animals.
“That dog, he was just sitting on top of the other dogs,” he said. “Just sitting on top, just looking at me.”
After taking the pup for a checkup, its story went viral. Donations rolled in to help board and care for the tiny survivor.
A local youngster even successfully made a suggestion for a name — Wall-E, the name for the recent Disney movie of the same name chronicling the lone survivor on Earth.
I wonder if Wonderdog might be an even more appropriate name?
The story was particularly personal for me for two reasons.
First, less than six months ago my wife and I had to put down our 12-year-old yellow Lab following a nine-month battle with bone cancer.
I stroked his head when the vet administered the first shot in his foreleg. And then we both cradled him as best we could in our arms when the second needle went into his chest.
Our tears fell on his golden coat when his chest rose and fell for the final time.
Heartbroken, we stood there until the vet completed her examination and told us he was gone.
We lingered at the animal hospital for half an hour or so. I suppose we were hoping by some miracle he might revive.
When we realized that wasn’t the case, we comforted each other and agreed our beloved Prince Peyton of Powell was no longer racked with pain.
Secondly, Wall-E’s story reminded me of an event that occurred in 1983.
That June evening, on the way to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, I stopped off at a convenience center to toss out some trash.
When I heaved the plastic sack into the big green metal box, I heard something. I looked inside. A huge bag of dogfood at the bottom of the Dumpster moved. I stood quietly and listened closer. Little whines and whimpers accompanied the crunchy shuffle of heavy paper. Let’s just say a few minutes later I was an official “Dumpster diver.” I came away with four little squirmy black and white puppies.
Someone didn’t care about their little critters the way you and I do.
They simply stuffed them in an empty bag and tossed them in the trash.
Kimberly was beside herself. We cut our fancy dinner plans short and headed home. For the next couple of weeks, we bottle-fed three little boys and a cute little girl.
When they were finally ready for solid food, they graduated to Puppy Chow.
In the meantime, we chose to do the right thing.
We shared our story with friends and neighbors. The three active little fellows found homes first.
The dainty little lady took an extra week to find someone who would love her.
Sadly, the whereabouts of those “survivors” slipped off my priority list as two children and four new dogs were introduced into our own household.
A couple years back, however, I was reminded about the little girl.
You see, we’d convinced a neighbor to take her in as a companion for her daughter.
That daughter — all grown up and a mother of a teenager herself — introduced herself to us at a basketball game.
She talked about growing up next to us.
She talked about the love she received from the little puppy we’d given her.
They enjoyed several years together before the furry and frisky gal had a mid-life run-in with a car.
If you have similar stories to share, feel free to comment on this column at roanecounty.com.
I’m sure all our readers would love to hear about the love and joy your furry friends provide.