--Written And Photographed By Tiami Coleburg
The ringing phone interrupted our last minute rush of Christmas Eve activity. The Animal Control Officer's tone and words told me it was serious, "Don't know if it's worth trying, but I have a tiny pup here that's really hurt bad. I thought it was dead when I pulled it out of the mud but it's still breathing. Can you find help?" My answer "It's always worth a try, we'll be right there". Unwrapped Christmas packages would stay that way, food that needed preparing would just have to wait, and relatives would just have to except we would be very late. Shari, a fellow volunteer and I raced a tiny bundle to the waiting care of our wonderful volunteer Vet, Dr. Ginny. Within that bundle was the battered and broken body of a 5-week-old Rottweiler puppy. He was unresponsive, had multiple severe puncture wounds and was covered with soaking wet mud. His body was cold to the touch, hypothermia was trying to extinguish the last ember of life that burned within this tiny being. While the Vet administered lifesaving efforts to the puppy, I knew he had to have a name. As if a name would ground him to earth and keep him here or perhaps to die without even a name was just to sad. I looked into his beautiful, perfect little face and said "We will name you Nicholas, as you came to us on Christmas Eve and you are a truly a gift from God".
As Nicholas struggled to survive, I struggled with the anger over how he had arrived in this battle for life. The image of his owner warm and cozy in his house, while Nicholas lay outside clinging to life enraged me. Then slowly I found wonder and peace in the good people that out numbered this negligent man: The neighbor that made the first call to tell of a tiny pup's plight, the officer who responded and scooped him up from the freezing mud, the Vets and all Vet Techs with their huge hearts and healing hands, fellow volunteers who sacrifice their time, hearts and homes, the financial donors who keep this rescue efforts afloat. Finally, my own family who feels blessed to have been able to foster such a courageous pup. With love and care, Little Nicholas fought his way back to health. He now runs and plays like the happy pup he always should have been. One day I heard Dr. Ginny say, "Nicholas, you are our brave and special boy. Your battle has brought you to a better life". His battle has also given me the gift of knowing there is still more good than evil in our world. Our brave boy has beaten the odds and he now in his loving, lifetime home.
His Parting Gift
--Written By Tiami Coleburg
As I read the email the image of his soulful eyes floated in my mind. Flashes of his life with me and his battle to be here blinked between the lines of the tear blurred words before me. It was an email about sadness and loss but so much more about honor, commitment and love.
A month shy of five years ago, you came to our house with a scraggly little puppy who had just won the first battle of his
life. Out of that crate and into our arms he ran. You had rescued him weeks earlier on Christmas Eve after he was mauled by a dog and you gave him a second chance -- his name was Nicholas. We were the fortunate ones who got to see Nicholas through this second chance. Such a fighter!
It is with GREAT sorrow and TREMENDOUS heartbreak to say that on
Thursday, December 8, 2005, just weeks after Nicholas's fifth birthday,we had to lay him to rest. He finally had a battle he couldn't win. Sometime in the early morning hours on Thursday, Nicholas suffered from a herniated disk -- his second in eight months. Surgery fixed the first one. This time we couldn't fix him. Very quickly, his hind legs became paralyzed. We knew it was time to end his suffering.
We want you to know that Nicholas had tremendous presence and spirit. He loved to run hard and play hard. He loved to give us sweet kisses followed by little nibbles with his teeth. We nicknamed him "interactive Nick" because he had to be involved in everything. He was so nosy! Whenever, we'd return from the store, he'd shove his nose in every bag to see what was inside. He loved to sit his back end on our blanket chest, sitting next to Mark while Mark put his boots on. He also did this so he could steal Mark's socks! He also loved to sit on the couch this way.
He loved to howl at sirens, even on TV. He loved to torment our other dog, Sweetie, even though he knew she was the boss. He loved to get the mail. If he heard us reach for the key to our mailbox, he was the first one at the door waiting to go. He loved everyone he met, whether dog or person. He didn't discriminate! He loved to cuddle. All 100 pounds of him. He loved to shove his way between our legs and stop half way through so we could scrub down his back legs. But, most importantly, we loved him.
Presence and spirit. He had more than his physical body was able to keep up with. He had so much that the quietness in our home right now is so very painful. Through the years, I thought of you often and knew you'd be so proud of the boy he became.
Thank you, Tiami, for trusting us with our precious, precious Nicholas. What a gift! Thank you for delivering to us five years of joy! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Mark and Connie"
What a special boy Nicholas was and is and always will be inside our hearts and minds. I can still see his little happy face looking up at me from the kitchen rug. What a face he had, the eyes of an angel. I sat lost in thoughts and tears. Then I felt strength come to me that I had not felt for sometime. It was a strength and a feeling I have had etched away by others during the daily interactions that roll over us in rescue.
I had been sad as of late for so many people do not do right by the sweet lives they adopt. Their promises are not true to themselves or to others. They are the, “Something for nothing people.” Their commitments to innocent lives are made and forgotten when an animal makes a mistake, are too much work, have medical issues or cost money. They tread heavy upon others and care nothing about the lives they hurt in the process. Always finding someone else to blame for their short comings or fault the innocent animal or the caring volunteer who cherished and saved the life they adopted. We nurture and care for animal lives and then pass the honor to the adopter. Some will see the honor and hold it dear, while others will show themselves for who they truly are. It is frustrating because they look like everyone else and they sound like everyone else until things don’t go story book perfect.
It is easy to become bitter and only see the sad and the bad in rescue work. I felt the bitterness melt away as I read Connie’s words. These words were made from the life and love she and Mark had shared with sweet Nicholas. It was a life that was precious from the moment he came into our lives and they cherished him no matter what problems arose. He was their boy and the commitment was complete. I thought if he could speak what would he say to me? Perhaps "Yes, Tiami most people are good and my mom and dad are the best." He has again given me the gift of knowing there is still more good than evil in our world.
Our brave and special boy your earthly battles are over. You left us too soon but your gift is in my heart and I shall not let it fade. Good bye and thank you, sweet boy. I shall light a candle to help light your way to heaven where you shall shine.
Connie and Mark,
Thank you, for loving him with all your heart.” You honored my love for him, rescue work and my trust in you by doing everything well and right. I will be forever grateful that you came into his life. May your hearts heal and your memories of him give you strength.