Ten days after tragedy was averted when Dutch was rescued from the cab of the long-haul truck he shares with Francis when Francis ended up in the emergency room, they were reunited.
It was just a few seconds before this photo was taken that Dutch entered the lobby at Sniff Dog Hotel. Just as he had many times before during the past 10 days when he would find me happily waiting to take him for a walk.
But this time it was different. This time he instead found a whole group of people in the lobby including a photographer, a television cameraman and several Sniff employees. And across the room he found his Dad.
It took him just a moment to realize what was happening. But once he saw Francis nothing else mattered. And he ran straight for him.
That single moment in time is the very moment that each one of us had been looking forward to since we first rescued Dutch 10 days earlier.
He was all alone in his truck and had been alone all night. The sun was coming up and filling his truck with warmth. Far too much warmth for safety. And now there was a stranger at his door calling his name. That stranger was me.
But with complete trust and bravery he allowed me to open that door, to give him some neck scratchies and attach Scooby’s leash to his collar. And that is how I met Dutch for the first time.
And now ten days later this sweetest Keeshond, a big guy that I have grown to love as my very own, was seeing his Dad for the first time.
He happy danced his way across the lobby and jumped up gently to kiss his face. With paws extended he stretched for the face that he knows. A face that surely tasted salty with both happy and sad tears together. And then he kissed the face that he loved.
He then wiggled his way into a far too small area next to his Dad just so he could be closer. Just so he could be a lap dog and once again lay his head on the lap of the man he had not seen for 10 days of human time.
Then it hit him. As he surveyed the room he really seemed to take it all in. And then he sighed the kind of sigh that said the world was right again.
But then Dutch saw Jim, Francis’s Dad. His Grandpa. And he rocketed off Francis’s lap and rushed to him, standing tall on his hind legs as Jim leaned forward.
And then these two old friends greeted each other in a way I’ll never forget. And those same tears were leaking out of Jim’s eyes too.
Jim, the retired and proud trucker with diesel in his DNA was crying as he leaned forward to kiss the dog he loved. With the son he loved sitting just a few feet away.
It was a moment later that Dutch found me. And I got kisses too. Then he pushed his way deep into my chest and leaned close. Just remaining there for a few moments in the same pose we have held many times during the past 10 days. Because every single walk we had together included some cuddle time.
And I knew what that moment meant. Dutch did too. No words were needed.
The cameraman left. The photographer finished. And then it was just a few of us remaining. Reluctant to say the goodbyes that we knew must be said.
But first Jamie from Sniff Dog Hotel gave Francis, Jim and Dutch the full Sniff tour so they could also see how Dutch had spent the past ten days.
And then Jamie did something that surely made her entire Sniff Team even more proud. With a tremendous gesture of kindness and generosity she cancelled the whole bill for Dutch’s entire 10 day stay.
There was not a single penny due for his view suite and his play groups and his brush outs and his baths and for the countless moments that the Sniff Team put forth to make sure this sweet boy never felt alone. And she sent them on their way with a bag of treats for the road.
But in return they know they received something far more valuable. They received the heartfelt gratitude of a man and his dog that were alone and 1,700 miles from home.
Our entire community received that heartfelt gratitude. Because each one of us were the helpers that made this potentially sad story a happy one.
As Mother Teresa said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
And that’s what we did. Together we reached forward and embraced these two truckers, two-legged and four. And we helped them. And we did it well.
Today let us we look back and proudly share in this moment together. Because what we do, we do together.
And this why we Pongo.
Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org