By Cynthia Williams

The rental looked pretty unkempt as the hopeful family pulled up to the vacant house. The owner was to meet them there and show the property.

The owner had warned them that she hadn't been to the house since the family vacated two weeks prior. The temperature had been raging over one hundred degrees, and it was just to hot for her to face a major clean-up in a house without utilities.

No other cars were around, the family decided to venture out and explore this not-quite-as-expected potential home. As soon as they exited their car they heard it. A mournful wailing, as if someone were in the throws of mortal agony. They ran to the front door and pounded. No answer. The husband put his ear to the door. No, the sound wasn't in there. They were about to walk to the nearest neighbor to trace the cry when the owner pulled up.

The sound of this second car sent the pitch of the wail to a new frenzy. The minute the owner heard it she exclaimed, "Oh my God" and ran to the fenced back yard.

They all peered over the fence. The most monstrous of animals stood there, glazed eyes darting from one face to the other. The animal backed away and attempted to snarl, but dehydration had taken away even this most basic of defences.

The previous family had not only moved out in the middle of the night, they had left their family pet to fend for himself in the scorching fenced yard. Whatever food or water they may have left was long gone. Long scratches and splintered shards evidenced the panic the dog initially felt when his circumstances were realized. But now, only a shadow of a dog stood there half pleading for life and half pleading for death.

The mom of the family took immediate action. She ran to the neighbors for bowls. She had others distract the dog until she could put the cool water down, along with some scraps of food. She kept this up over a period of time, knowing the dog would harm himself it he drank and ate to quickly. Slowly, the mom gained the trust of the animal. It was the scroungiest dog she had ever seen. Must have twenty kinds of breeds floating in his genes, she thought.

During that time the owner took the application of the family and said she would check it out. She then said she would call the pound. The mom asked if she could just come by everyday and care for the dog until their application could be checked. The woman said no, but offered for the family to take the dog on the spot.

First taking their kids to a friend's house, the mom went back and retrieved the now grateful mongrel. Her first visit was to the vet, who marveled at the good behavior and obedience the dog exhibited. Then on to the groomer. All were amazed when this creature turned out to be a full-blooded Chow. He stood there, pride in his stance and love in his eyes when his new "mom" came to pick him up. Once again the compliments of his behavior flowed freely.

Now, thanks to the kindness of an animal-loving mom, their new neighborhood has a mascot. A playful, friendly member that gets along with animal and human alike. It's not the neighborhood where the family first ventured; they didn't get that house. But they did get a new family member that will forever be their grateful guardian.


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