Hi. I just wanted to share my story with the group. I have been working with Stealth trying desperately to reunite Katrina pets with their families, and had no idea how hard it was to let go until today.
4 1/2 months ago I found a HUGE, beautiful black lab in the middle of a very busy intersection. He was so terrified of the traffic swerving around him that he was frozen. After having him scanned for a chip, vet checked, putting up posters, listing on PF - all to no avail, he came home with me. I have periodically checked the paper and web for lost postings for the last 4 1/2 months. It was amazing to me to not find someone searching for him. He became a wonderful, much loved member of our family. He was great with my cats, my daughter, and my boxer/pit mix who hates other dogs. He spent Christmas with us, had gifts and a stocking, and a picture made with Santa. He slept in the bed with my baby girl every night, under a blanket with his head on a pillow. He weighed 120 lbs. and took up most of her bed. "Big Man Blackie Chan" was the most gentle giant. I love him so much.
I had just made the appointment to have him neutered, and decided to make one last attempt at placing a found ad in the paper. I ran 12 ads. I guess I figured that I would never get a call - not after this long. I left out critical details in the ad and asked the caller to id. This morning I
got a call from a man who said that he was pretty sure that he was wasting my time, but that his wife insisted that he call. His lab had been missing since right after Katrina - from Fairhope, AL. That is about 20 miles away from me, including a bridge spanning Mobile Bay. How could his dog have gotten 20 miles away and crossed a very busy 4 mile bridge? He identified EVERY detail that I left out of the ad - color & brand of collar, scar inside of left ear, etc. Needless to say, I was floored and in disbelief. As his wife was screaming in the background, "Is it Buddy?", I heard a small boy ask if someone had found Buddy. I gave them directions to come and view the dog. I still thought that this was a long shot. I decided that I would know by Big Man's reaction to them - he doesn't like strangers and will not approach them.
When they pulled up I watched the couple carry their 2 yr. old boy to my door. My heart sank when I saw Big Man run and jump onto the man and his wife. I have NEVER seen a dog so happy. They were in tears screaming IT'S HIM! IT'S BUDDY! I then watched how gentle, loving and protective he was over the baby as he threw his arms around Buddy's neck. There was no doubt that this was their dog. They showed me pics of him as a baby and pics taken right before he got lost. There was no doubt.
Without a doubt, giving him back to his family was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. I could not stop crying. Right before my gentle giant hopped in the car (without coaxing) he licked my tears and put his paw on my shoulder. It was as if he was saying thank you and goodbye.
I could see it in his eyes. I am so torn right now. I am happy that he is home with his family that so obviously loves him dearly. But, I still feel jelous - almost angry - and so hurt that I had to let him go. I know that this is childish and selfish, but I can't help it. I'm embarrassed to say that my 10 yr. old daughter is dealing with this better than I am.
It will be so hard to study for exams tonight without his head in my lap, or shower in the morning without him sticking his head in to lap at the water. I can't stop crying. I will miss my "Big Man Blackie Chan" more than I can express in words. I do, however, know deep down in my heart that I did the right thing. As hard as it is for me to take, I LOVED HIM ENOUGH TO LET HIM GO. I know that he will have a happy life and be spoiled! I wish that knowledge could somehow ease the pain of losing him. Maybe in time.