|Our Very Special MAKE-A-WISH
FOUNDATION Thanksgiving Story
(written as it happened on Wednesday, November 21, 2007)
|Thanksgiving is about love and family and giving thanks for the blessings in our lives. My thanks are for the
blessings my strong, healthy children bring to my life; my beloved springers with whom I have shared my life for over
three decades; the beauty and grace of my Arabian horses; my friends, and my extended family. That's it, in a
nutshell, that's all I need. I have two big strong sons, and while I have always worried about them as a mother, I've
never had to face death with either one. I have that to be thankful for. I have the good fortune of living with
wonderful dogs with exemplary temperaments whose bloodlines have come from caring breeders all around the
country. I have that to be thankful for.
Not everyone is so lucky. Yesterday I had the extreme honor to make the acquaintance of a truly wonderful family
with an extremely ill son...a son whose one wish in life is to become an owner of an English Springer Spaniel and join
the ranks of those of us lucky enough to share our lives with our wonderful dogs. His dream is about to come true
through the generosity of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Some time ago I was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and told about this special family. Their 12 year old
son, Andrew, has always wanted a dog, and an English Springer Spaniel is his breed of choice. The family consists of
four children with Andrew being the oldest. The mother home schools the children and the father works incredibly
hard to support the family and stay on top of their vast medical expenses. The Make-A-Wish Foundation wanted to
make this ill child's wish come true and has been seeking and screening prospective breeders to make it all happen. I
feel very fortunate to have been chosen to become involved in this heartwarming endeavor.
Numerous communications have gone back and forth between the Foundation, the family and myself over many
weeks. The boy wanted a young puppy, but as a breeder I felt the family situation was too busy to bring in a young pup
as the poor mother already had her hands full with home-schooling her four children, and I urged everyone to consider
an older puppy or young adult, something that was already trained ad socialized. They finally agreed.
Yesterday was the day we met. The Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for a large black limo to pick the family up at
their home and take them to a nice lunch. After lunch they were driven by limo to my home to meet the young adult
springer I had selected for them. I was apprehensive all day because I had no idea what to expect. I was not told what
illness the child had. I did not know how many people were coming or what they would expect. I was, however,
confident in my young dog that I had chosen for them, who just turned a year of age. He is a puppy that I bred, have
shown a little and had planned to keep for myself, but he was a bit too small to be a good show dog. He's been
everywhere with me since he was a pup, and is very well socialized with an extremely gentle spirit. A perfect match.
The family arrived in the limo. Four small children bounded into my home along with the parents. I had my young dog
loose with one of my springer girls who is nursing a litter of pups (her whelping box is in my dining room), and the two
dogs took all of this sudden commotion in stride.
There was no hiding my litter of four week old pups, so I asked Andrew if he would like to sit down and hold one. He
readily said yes. I asked him if he wanted to hold a black one or a brown one, and he respectfully replied, "Liver,
please." Wow, I was amazed - most adults who come to visit don't use the correct term "liver." Andrew has been
reading and studying springers for months - I was so impressed!
I asked all of the children to sit on the floor and allowed each of them to hold a puppy. Sara, the mom of the litter, sat
calmly nearby - trusting me not to let anything happen to her precious bundles. My young adult dog walked from child
to child, nosing the puppies in their arms, and waited for his turn for attention. It was as if he knew why they were
here. He then went over to Andrew, laid beside him and gently put his paw on Andrew's leg in a typical springer
gesture of saying "I'm here for you."
While I don't know all of Andrew's story, I learned this - about a year ago he suffered acute liver failure, needed a
liver transplant and was two days away from dying while waiting for a donated liver to be found. His mother told me
that her husband turned out to be enough of a match to donate a portion of his liver to Andrew. Then she told me that
her husband was not Andrew's father, but his stepfather, and made this incredible donation out of love and concern for
her and their family. Amazing!
After a while Andrew wanted to take my young dog, Focus, for a walk, so we put him on a flexi-lead and out the door
we went. Focus was so gentle - no pulling on the lead, no running - just happily prancing with his tail up acting very
proud to be with Andrew! It was as if he knew this was his calling...
The bonding between the two was like Timmy and Lassie all over again. It was meant to be. But - decisions had to be
made - on my part, on the part of the family, and by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The family left for home in the big
limo with none of us knowing what the eventual outcome would be.
This morning I received an email from the Make-A-Wish Foundation that the family gave such glowing reports about
this gentle young English Springer Spaniel that they have decided to move forward with the adoption! The Foundation
will cover all expenses associated with the dog for one year - health care, food, supplies, etc. When the family and the
Foundation come to pick him up, they will take the family on a shopping spree to Petco to get everything they need,
right down to toys and biscuits!
So today - the day before Thanksgiving - this is what I have to be thankful for...healthy children of my own, and the
unequaled pleasure to live my life with this beautiful breed - knowing that I have been given an opportunity - through
these wonderful dogs - to give back - and bring joy to a terribly ill young man and the incredible young dog who chose
Does it get any better than this??
My thanks to Courtney Baggett, Wish Coordinator for the Make-A-Wish
Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc. and to the Make-A-Wish Foundation
in general for all the wonderful dreams they bring to the lives of seriously
ill children and their families.
To learn more, and/or to make a contribution:
|Andrew and Focus at Northgate before
they left together.