In this season of giving thanks, I would like to give a shout out to some very kind Goleta residents. My son, Tim, and I are volunteer dog walkers for a nonprofit organization called Cold Noses, Warm Hearts (CNWH). Every Saturday, we take a couple dogs with us for a long walk. Recently, we tried fostering a dog overnight, too. The Friday before Halloween, I picked up Smokey, a cute gray schnauzer mix. Life had been tough for Smokey, and he was shy and hesitant as we walked to my car.
At home, Smokey seemed anxious to be outside. So after feeding him, Tim and I drove to Girsh Park to walk him. Again, Smokey balked when being walked with a leash, so we took him to the enclosed dog run area at the park. Smokey loved running around free of the leash. A few minutes went by, and Smokey found a small opening under the fence. He wriggled under it, and just like that he was out. Panic swept over me as I grabbed the leash and ran like a madwoman, sprinting full speed during rush hour, yelling, “Stop that dog!” At first I was met with perplexed looks. But soon, bicyclists and pedestrians stopped to help me. I cringed as Smokey ran across Storke Road, going east on Phelps.
A bicyclist offered to get a treat to coax Smokey. A couple in a car pulled over, and the passenger got out to help. A fireman pulled his small truck ahead of Smokey, blocking the way so that Smokey would turn around toward Tim and me. We had that one chance to get him, but with a burst of energy, Smokey flew past us, heading west across Storke Road.
Miraculously, Smokey managed again to avoid being run over. Tim and I then lost sight of him on Phelps. I headed back to the dog run area, hoping he would show up, and called CNWH, who were sending a search party. Tim and I walked Phelps, and another bicyclist came by and said he’d lost Smokey southwest of Pacific Oaks. Evening was falling, so I decided to take Tim back home and head back out with a flashlight.
Poor Smokey, all alone, not knowing how to fend for himself, I worried. As daylight disappeared, I started doing the only thing I could think of. I prayed. I asked, no, I begged the Lord to please let Smokey be found safely tonight.
I walked aimlessly along Pacific Oaks, but minutes later my cell phone rang. Sierra from CNWH was calling to say Smokey had been found safe and sound! Leslie, who had rescued Smokey from a kill shelter days earlier, had parked her van near the dog run area as the youth soccer games were ending. She suddenly noticed a little dog – Smokey! — being chased by a bigger dog. The two dogs galloped over to the parking lot, and, as if on cue, Smokey jumped into Leslie’s van!
As I cried and thanked God for answering my prayer, I felt grateful for the people who helped look for Smokey that evening. It touches my heart that people would take time out of their busy lives to help find a lost dog. The next day, the volunteers at Cold Noses, Warm Hearts told me it usually takes several days to find runaway dogs. Some people would say it was luck that brought Smokey back. But I tend to think it was divine intervention with a little help from many compassionate Goletans.