Vivian Manning-Schaffel: One morning, 47-year-old divorced mom of two Yolanda Segovia was given an abandoned terrier found by her neighbor. Yolanda's plate was full, but she agreed to hang on to the pooch for a day.
After extensive efforts to locate the dog's owner, she, along with her two sons, eventually bought the dog a bed and a leash. They even gave him a name: RaeLee. And the dog made himself at home.
"Don't fall in love with him," Yolanda repeatedly warned her sons.
Yolanda's elder 21-year-old son, Christian, has Down syndrome and an array of other ailments. He has had heart surgery and a kidney transplant. He can't speak or bathe himself.
When the boys climbed into their bunk beds at night, the dog dragged his bed from Yolanda's living room, down the long hall, into their room.
Four days later, they still had the dog. He was starting to answer to his new name. And he almost never barked.
On Saturday, Christian retreated to his room to watch a Barney video. RaeLee dozed beside him. Yolanda had just stepped onto her porch to water the plants when the dog flung himself into the screen door, barking madly.
As she opened the door, RaeLee sprinted across the living room, into the boys' room.
Yolanda screamed. Christian was slumped over, his body writhing in a seizure, blood streaming from his nose and mouth.
RaeLee ran to the boy, still yelping. But as soon as Yolanda bent to cradle her son, the dog went silent. "If he hadn't come to get me," Yolanda told her neighbor, "the neurologist said Christian would have choked on his own blood and died." Since no one had claimed the dog, Yolanda decided to keep him.
The next morning, a man who lives six blocks from Yolanda recognized RaeLee from a flyer and got in touch with her neighbor to claim him. He'd been searching for the dog for more than a week. The neighbor told him about how he saved Yolanda's son.
When the owner showed up at Yolanda's house to claim RaeLee, her younger son stood on the porch, crying. "We're going to miss you," he called.
The owner saw this, and noticed Christian's frightened face in the window. The clincher? He gave RaeLee to Yolanda and her kids, saying, "Maybe he was supposed to find you."
Got chills yet? How cool is that?
|Vivian Manning-Schaffel has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. She authors two pop culture blogs: The Mad Mom and A Hag Supreme, and is on the web at vivianmanningschaffel.com.|