Picture a sunny Sunday in September. Add a Presbyterian church steeple. Put people in the pews. The people are eyes front, ears focused on Rev. Richard’s stirring sermon. He stops. He stares at the back of the church and says, “I believe we have a visitor”. All eyes follow his to where he is looking steadfastly on. I was seated in the back row and therefore got a good look at the apparition. It looked straight down the aisle at Rev. Richard, then to the left of the pews, then to the right. Then it turned and quit the church.
I got up and walked after it, another lady did the same. We followed it across the church lawn, to the wheelchair ramp by the side of the church, where it came to a sudden stop and sat unmoving. No fear, just there he was – a tall but very thin and straggly Saint Bernard dog! He claimed his place for the handicapped which indeed he was. There was a big hairless hump-like cyst on his rump, obviously food for flies. He was the most bedraggled looking animal I had ever seen. But he sat like a Buddah staring at us with no concern, just taking a break in the sun.
When church let out, a small crowd gathered to gawk and talk about what to do. Happily, the local Vet Assistant from Borador Animal Hospital was among these concerned souls. Borador’s Mary Menard is the Vet that I use for my Labs. In a random act of kindness, which I do not regret, I asked Laura, the vet tech, who had her cell phone available, to call Mary. Mary agreed to meet us at the Vet Hospital ASAP. Jane warned that it might be expensive. I said that I would put it on my Care Credit Vet Card. Now, please don’t think that I make this sort of thing a habit. Timing is everything, circumstances dictate, here I was, and there was this once fine specimen of a dog rotting (with dignity) before my eyes. Jane was moved to say that she would pay half the bill. She kept to her word.
We named him Big Bubba. Everyone at Borador Animal Hospital in Salem, New York loved him. A search went out for his owner. None was found. One vet tech said that if Bubba was not such a drooler she’d take him home. After three days, Jane offered to take him temporarily. She made a comfortable place for him in her garage, while waiting for a space to become available at Second Chances Rescue in Vermont. But Big Bubba bolted. Just like that. Gone. Jane had left the garage door closed and locked. Bubba had somehow squeezed his big, bony frame out of a not so big, glass garage window.
We put out posters in all the local stores. We called all the local vet offices. But no Bubba. A dog rescue person said that the Saint was probably suffering from separation anxiety and desperate to find his master. I like to think that Big Bubba came to our church that Sunday morning looking for his own people. It felt safe. So he stayed for a bit. Maybe he got just what he needed to give him the energy to find his way home.