Miss Ruby was getting on in years. She lived by herself, and decided that a beagle puppy would be the just the right companion for her. Having come to this conclusion, Miss Ruby discussed the matter with her friend Evelyn, who helped Miss Ruby by driving her to appointments and such. Together they set up a meeting with a beagle breeder to investigate the purchase of a puppy for Miss Ruby.
Shortly after this momentous decision, Evelyn saw a poster with a picture of a beagle dog that had been found nearby. A phone call revealed that the dog had been around for about a week, no one had claimed him, and he was in need of a new home. Well, this was a perfect opportunity for Miss Ruby. She wanted a beagle, and here was one practically on her doorstep in need of a place to live!
Miss Ruby had picked out a name for her new beagle pup before she even met him: Obama. Evelyn transported the lost beagle from his temporary home to Miss Ruby's house, and he settled right in, happy to have someone to love who loved him in return. Miss Ruby figured that Obama was an angel sent to keep her company.
As summer turned to fall and fall turned to winter, Miss Ruby became more and more unwell. Eventually, she had to leave her home and go into the hospital for what was likely to be the last time. Evelyn took Obama home with her, and together they visited Miss Ruby at the hospital almost every day. The patients were happy to see this cheerful beagle trotting down the corridors, and the nurses loved him so much that they'd even allow him to stay with Miss Ruby while Evelyn ran out to do a few errands.
At the end of January, Miss Ruby passed away. Evelyn decided that she wanted to continue the work she and Obama had begun, visiting patients at the hospital, by having Obama certified as a pet therapy dog. The first step was a thorough vet check, so Evelyn located a vet she'd used before for her horses and took Obama in for a visit.
In the course of his phyiscal exam, the vet discovered that Obama was healthy, with clean ears, a decent weight (for an older beagle), and ... that he had a microchip embedded. He was someone's lost pet, not just an abandoned dog. Evelyn was heartbroken ... if Obama had a family that loved and missed him, he'd need to go back and their time together would be at an end.
The vet took Evelyn's contact information and headed to her office to make a phone call.
And my phone rang.
Obama the beagle is Duggan, and the vet is my own vet, who knew that Duggan had disappeared last Canada Day and that all our efforts to locate him had been fruitless. She told me how Duggan had been found several kilometers west of our house and adopted by an older lady who had adored him until her passing last month, and how the lady's friend had inherited him and had brought him to the clinic as the first step twoards having him certified as a therapy dog. Doctor Vet said Duggan was clearly very much loved in his new home ... and that the people were heartbroken at the thought of having to send him back.
Well, there was just no question what to do. If Doctor Vet says that the people have been taking good care of him and obviously love him, well, I know it's true. If Duggan can have a career as a therapy dog, sharing his happiness with people who need the comfort and joy that an open-hearted beagle has to offer, then he should have a chance to do the work he's so well suited for.
We couldn't possibly want anything more for Duggan than to know that he is well loved and enjoying his life, and even more, to know that his life enriches the lives of so many others.
I phoned Evelyn and heard the whole story from her. She says she can't think now why she didn't check for a microchip right at the start. I think she just wasn't meant to: Miss Ruby needed Duggan, and it was his job to be there for her. We loved him and missed him, but he was needed where he was. Now that his job with Miss Ruby has ended and his new career is about to begin, it's the perfect time for us to find out that he's alive and well ... and only a few kilometers away, living with people who are good to him, who love him, and who want to give him a career helping people in need of a dog's unconditional love.
Duggan's new family have invited us to come and visit, and we can't wait to see him in his new home and meet these wonderful people. Their generous hearts had room not only for Miss Ruby when she needed them, but also for Duggan, when he lost Miss Ruby.
We were so sure that Duggan had met his end. To find out that all this time he's been bringing happiness and comfort to people who need it so much, and that he is just around the corner with such kind people is just more wonderful than any of us could have hoped for.
(In keeping with our custom, all of the human's names have been changed.)