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One Good Turn
by Jim Colasanti



Miracles happen every day and in every way to all kinds of people, yet most go unobserved. Those people who do not believe in miracles have actually experienced many such occurrences: they simply lack the presence of mind to realize what is transpiring. The miracles are simply viewed as an eddy in the ebb and flow of time.

Living in a multiple dog family does not eliminate the sense of wonder nor the sense of reason that each dog was delivered to our doorstep for a particular purpose. Dogs have an instinct for choosing the right people. But only Heaven knows, and only Heaven has a way of gradually unfolding the drama in which we mortals participate.

The fisherwoman heard the car doors slam above her on the bridge that traversed the river in which she was fishing. Intent on making her daily catch, she paid little attention to the noise above her until her dog wading in the waters next to her looked up and growled ominously.

The noonday sun silhouetted the bridge railing; the fisherwoman could see the outline of a man with two burlap sacks heaving them over the railing toward the stream below. The sacks plummeted at an alarming speed, each bag twisiting and contorting as something alive fought for escape. The screams gurgled and frothed as their burlap prisons tumbled in the waters of the cold river current. Realizing that whatever these creatures were--they were in trouble--the fisherwoman headed for the bag within her reach and commanded her dog to "fetch" the other bag.

After reaching the shore, she slashed with her pocket knife the ropes binding the bags, freeing the unwilling occupants. Out jumped a tan Boxer- Pit Bull mix from the first bag--her nursing nipples almost dragging the ground; her three tan puppies came out of the second bag. The mother dog gathered her pups together; licking them and making sure they were all okay. Her eyes met those of the fisherwoman. The dog jumped up on her--one paw on each of the woman's shoulders--and licked her profusely about the face. It was the dog's way of expressing her gratitude for her life and the lives of her puppies.

"Why, aren't you the sweetest thing alive?" the woman exclaimed amidst the bath she was getting from the dog's raspy tongue. "I think I'll call you Sweetie."

The woman toweled the mother dog and the pups; then everyone piled into the truck for the long ride home.

Because of an already overflowing household, the fisherwoman could not keep Sweetie and her pups. She contacted the Animal Rescue and Foster Program to see if anyone could foster the dogs until they could get a permanent home.

Sweetie came to live with us because no one wanted an adult dog with "pit bull" in the mix. Her puppies were all adopted out to good homes.

At her new home, Sweetie joined the pack--approximately 30 dogs and no cat (at that time) and she fit right in.

Many months later Sweetie would repay the kindness shown to her by the fisherwoman, and she would pay it forward to us.

The rain that fell that night would not stop. The drops hit the tin roof echoing throughout the house's interior like the sound of popcorn popping in the microwave. Yet even with the sound of nature's turmoil outside, I remained sound asleep inside.

Unbeknown to us, raccoons had entered our basement wrecking havoc on the downstairs facility and turning the sump pump over on its side, rendering it inoperable.

Ever so slowly the basement began to fill with water, inching its way up as each drop seeped in through the aged walls. Our gas water-heater, on a platform in the corner, was surrounded on all sides by the incoming flood.

As the rain continued throughout the night, the water level continued to rise--finally extinguishing the pilot light on the heater. Surreptitiously, the fumes bubbled through the water; filled the entire basement; and rose through the vents to enter the main level of the house.

Sweetie, alert to the storm--disliking both the thunder and the lightning-- now smelled a new nemesis. As the gas permeated the bedroom, grogginess and delirium engulfed the bed like a noxious cloud.

Sensing the imminent danger, Sweetie started jumping up and down on the bed and barking loudly at the unseen killer. Still I was slow to respond. As the odor of rotten eggs became stronger, I abruptly awakened and realized what was happening. The house had filled with gas from the unlit pilot.

We got all of the dogs and ourselves out of the house and onto the covered porch; I called the gas company for assistance.

Sweetie had repaid the fisherwoman's kindness by, in turn, saving us.

I believe in miracles in the world, and I believe everyone needs that conviction in their lives.

And as proof, at the foot of the bed Sweetie lies in the bundled woolen blanket, her head cocked listening to the sounds of the night--her fur stiffening at any intrusive sound. Her soft brown eyes twinkling in the glow of the greenish night lights hold a secret that only she and Heaven know, and as you may have guessed, Sweetie isn't telling!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James Colasanti, Jr., a former veterinary technician and now a lead clerk with Barnes & Noble Booksellers, shares his home with his housemate, Sam, and 25 dogs, and an orange Tomcat named Pumpkin. Colasanti has had stories in: PASTA MAGAZINE; BEST FRIENDS MAGAZINE; DOG FANCY MAGAZINE; and PETWARMERS. A past president of the Animal Rescue & Foster Program of Greensboro, NC., he continues his support of various rescue organizations including the Doris Day Animal League. He is currently writing his memoir ONE GOOD DOG DESERVES ANOTHER, having lived with as many as 36 dogs at one time.

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