I’ve cut people off on the highway. I’ve told a white lie or two. When I was in college, I didn’t return the $10 the convenience store cashier handed me thinking it was a dollar bill. When my day comes and I get sent to the Pearly gates and Saint Peter asks me why he should let me pass into heaven, I’m sure he’ll mention those sins and many, many others. He’s going to take one look at me and cry out: “Who sent this guy? Send him packing, send him back where he belongs, one elevator straight down!”
However, I know exactly what I’m going to say. I’ve been thinking about it and I’m ready.
I’m going to tell Saint Peter to look up the day I became a lifesaver. Well, it wasn’t exactly me, it was really my mom — anyone who’s ever met her knows that she’s a saint —but I certainly helped. I was, at least, in the neighborhood, when the good deed happened.
A lovable dog
Let me tell you the story. My mom and I visited her Amish sister and her family. (I wrote about my mom several years ago in An Amish girl leaves home to create a new way of life.) My mom regularly visited my aunt when she had a day off from work. She would catch up with her sister and us kids would spend time with our cousins.
I was pretty young at the time. In any event, one of the dogs they kept in the barn had puppies. The runt of the litter, a toy terrier -fox terrier mix, however, wasn’t getting enough food and was starting to get rejected by her mother. Since she was so small and starting to suffer, my uncle was going to shoot her. I’m not sure if that story was completely true, but it was the early 70s, and that’s what my mom told me, and we told my dad.
No matter what, it worked, we just had to save her.
A new best friend
My mom put the puppy in a Middleswarth Potato Chip box, a Central Pennsylvania potato chip maker that used to sell chips in a box, and made me responsible for her while she drove home. The puppy pawed and pawed the side, wanting to get out. I tried unsuccessfully to calm and control her. She was scared to death of the car ride and I was now rethinking our move, I was scared to death of her.
Despite those auspicious beginnings, we became best friends. We called her Snoopy, straight out of the Peanuts cartoon, even though she was all black and looked nothing like the dog in the Sunday comics. Without the other dogs as competition, she started to grow and get bigger.
She might have had a shaky start, but she soon found a home with the family. She became the love of our family, taking over for our first dog, Shep, a lovable collie that had been hit by a passing car a year earlier. She loved looking up a you and convincing you to rub her belly. She could lie that way for hours. She had a long and happy life.
When we had to put her down years later, I couldn’t help but think that my mom and I helped save her, but in the end, she ended up saving me. Here’s hoping St. Peter has a long memory and a sweet spot for dogs.