In 1997 we were living in Key West,Florida. Jon had suffered a major seizure and had lost his short term memory. After nearly a month in the hospital, he came home to me and Mommee the cat. I was working and he desperately needed someone to take care of him and occupy his mind. Being me, I thought a dog might just be the therapy the doctors failed to order.
It was pouring down buckets of rain the one day I had to take the trip to the animal shelter on Stock Island. I got a cab and forged ahead. Once at the shelter I was admitted to the kennel area. There was a handsome male dalmatian in the first cage but he didn't seem to love me so I moved on to cage number two. There I saw a sign that read, "I only have three days to live. Please take me home." Inside was another dalmatian. This time it was a spayed female, 2 years old. I could hardly breathe. She was beautiful. I put my fingers through the chain link and she licked them. I looked no further. I paid the money, signed the papers, promised to get her a rabies shot immediately, bought a collar and a leash, and met a nice lady who offered us a ride home. I named her Miss Parker after a TV character on a show called "The Pretender". She rode home in my lap knowing she was safe at last.
Jon loved her on sight. Mommee didn't quite feel the same and left the house in a kitty huff. After three days Mommee decided to come home and put up with her new big sister. They became best friends after only a few days. Such was the magic of Miss Parker. Jon fed her, walked her, bathed her, and gave her all his love. Funny thing was, she was always MY dog. The bond had been established with that lick through chain link. When Jon asked her if she wanted to go for a walk she would be excited. When he said," Do you want to go see Austin?" she went crazy. I worked across the street and they visited often. Occasionally she escaped and came to visit me at the restaurant where I was waiting tables at the most inopportune times, like in the middle of dinner rush. I would excuse myself and run her back across the street. It was a very happy and fun time.
1998 came and by September we were a very solid family. Jon, Mommee, Miss Parker, and me. But then Hurricane Georges decided to come our way. Jon and I were forced to flee to Daytona (a story in itself) but our next door neighbor refused to leave. He offered to check in on our animals so we left them in our mobile home. While we were away, the hurricane made a direct hit on Key West. A giant tree fell into our home and literally cut it in half. Miss Parker was killed. Mommee survived. We came back home to find everything destroyed but the only thing that mattered was our girl. I grieve for her to this day.
We left Key West and returned to California. It took us a long time to come to terms with our loss. But, eventually, we did. We are stronger because of that tragedy. I suppose that is the cliche I wish to leave you with is, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". There is wisdom in those often repeated words. Jon and I do not take anything for granted. We try very hard to make each day count. We love our little family a little bit extra because we know how quickly it can be gone.
Peace and Love,