On most mornings, the majority of us start our day with a number of “junk” emails in our personal and business accounts – “buy this, try that, have you heard?, they said “what?,” please send money, help us save”….. and the list goes on. During that first, and perhaps second cup of coffee, we spend a fair amount of time acquainting our fingers with the “delete” button, washing away the “junk” with ease.
For those involved in rescue, we tend to get more emails than most, and while many can be washed away with the touch of a thumb against a red button, there are those which cause volunteers to read – re-read again – then “forward” on to a huge network of souls who passionate about rescue.
You see, the work of rescue isn’t defined by numbers on a clock or the number of emails waiting silently in one’s “In box.” Rather, it is defined by “need,” by “urgency” appearing at all hours of the day/night that keeps the passion some call a fever burning deep in our bones - regardless of the hour when the call to be rescued arrives. We know it isn't "junk" - it is a call to save, to heal, and to help others who cannot speak for themselves – from those begging for a chance at life and redemption!
This is a story of one such email chain that didn’t get “deleted” and how that simple act saved the life of a little terrier-mix pup who had been seen living in a parking lot at a home improvement store for four to five months.
On a Monday morning as a woman named “Melody” came out of the local home improvement store, she saw a little shaggy dog skittishly hanging around outside the store and asked a gentleman nearby if the dog was his. The fellow named Richard explained the story of this little pup, saying he was the “uncatchable parking lot dog.”
Supposedly, he had been staying in that one area around the parking lot, behind the store, being fed upon occasion by local restaurant staff. He had also been seen sitting in the front of the local IHOP where customers fed him leftovers. The promise of food kept him going back for more and, most likely, sustained him during the months he was on his own. Others would leave bowls of food for him, in hopes of catching him, but he remained elusive and “uncatchable” by most of the locals, including animal control.
Later that night, Melody sent one of “those” emails on its’ journey to animal rescue groups, explaining about this poor pup and his circumstances, and people began showing up to help. Unfortunately, their efforts had the opposite effect and he became frightened, crossing over a very busy highway to get away. He wasn’t harmed but chances of him staying safe weren’t looking good! The next morning, Melody sent out another plea, begging for experienced rescue personnel to assist in the rescue - asking others to steer clear of the area so he wouldn’t be frightened away.
One of the foster volunteers who received Melody’s email and didn’t delete it was “Mary,” a foster and volunteer with ‘Angels Among Us Pet Rescue’ in Alpharetta, Georgia. Mary chose to “forward” the email to the vast network of Angels volunteers. One who received the email plea was a lady named “Araceli,” who volunteers/fosters for Angels, and she decided to see how she could help.
We asked Araceli why this particular “cry for help” touched her heart. “First, Mary asked – that was enough for me! I also knew he needed shelter and I had a large igloo enclosure and fresh cedar shavings I could take to the area where he was hanging out. Those would provide a safe, warm place to lay his head! This dog has obvious trust issues so it's going to be tough to catch him.”
Araceli knew she had to locate a “humane trap.” It was very clear little Lowes had learned how to stay at least 10 feet away from any human trying to touch him, so there was no question they would need a trap that could be baited, set and left there on property. It was their one sure chance to save his life! The odds of him continuing on his own weren’t good: he was susceptible to the harsh weather, to being run over by vehicles, harmed by others in the area, or attacked by wildlife in the nearby woods.
Araceli spent much of that day in frustration, unable to secure a trap from any of the local rescues. Instead, she loaded up the dog house and large bag of shavings, along with a ton of smelly dog food and treats, and headed over to the parking lot - determined to do what she could to help little the little stray she was now calling “Lowes.” The last piece of Araceli’s plan came in the form of Elsie, a beagle she is currently fostering for Angels Rescue, and the apple of her eye! If anyone could “lure” Mr. Lowes to them, Elsie was certainly the girl to do it! Armed with shelter, food and Elsie, the female “dog whisperer” set out on her quest to capture this four-legged boy who had already captured her heart!
Araceli and Melody drove slowly through the parking lot in hopes of catching sight of Lowes, who was nowhere to be found! Even though the temps had dropped and a fierce wind was blowing, a decision was made to park and walk Elsie on a secure leash to see if she could help locate him! Sure enough, Lowes suddenly emerged from the brush and came bolting down the hill toward them – and more importantly, Elsie! Curiosity had been stirred, and they hoped a “visit” would soon follow! Lowes immediately fell into “deep like” and wanted to play!
The trio of females learned quickly just how skittish Lowes was, and how this street-smart boy had survived on his own for so long. He wasn’t “food-motivated” so obviously he was being fed! They also learned how smart Lowes is, and how savvy and elusive he could be when it came to humans. It was also surprising to witness how sweet and calm he was – just a little, lost soul seeking a friend and companion.
With little Elsie sitting in the back of the SUV looking out, little Lowes would cautiously come to the back of the vehicle’s open door, raise up on his hind legs against the bumper - staring at Elsie as if to say, “come out and play with me!” He would back away, sit down, look at her longingly, and then repeat the process time and time again. Deciding he wasn’t going to be captured that night, Araceli and Melody placed a bowl of water inside the igloo then left treats in paths leading to the entrance of the igloo which offered shelter from the cold night air.
With nothing else to be done that night, they packed up, planning to return the next day. They noticed little Lowes was ‘watching them’ from afar! At that moment, Araceli became “mission-driven” as she calls it, and determined in her heart: no matter what, she was going to RESCUE this boy! Lowes needed a home, and she was determined to find a way to catch this “uncatchable” dog.
A trap was located on Friday so Araceli headed over to the parking lot. With the trap set, people praying and offering support, Araceli waited silently in the parking lot with little Elsie, but Lowes was nowhere to be seen! They sat and waited … walking the lot occasionally, coming back to sit and wait again ... still, no ‘Loews’ anywhere. Had he been harmed, injured … or worse … during the night? They cautiously checked the dog house and there were no signs he had entered or stayed there the night before.
Moments turned into hours, with no sign of him anywhere.
While little Lowes wasn’t making an appearance, others were! Among their visitors were police officers who came to check on them, stating they were aware of the little dog, confessing they also had fed him.
Late that evening, Lowes made a sudden appearance out of “nowhere. Once again, he wanted to play with Elsie but would move away if any movements were made toward him. With no luck that night, they once again packed up to go, watching the homeless pup in the rear-view mirror as he sat alone on the curb, his eyes and heart following them as they drove away.
Saturday morning arrived bright and cold as another day of looking, hoping, and praying began. Araceli decided to take a second dog named “Trudy” who is an extremely playful miniature Schnauzer, to see if she would be more responsive to Lowes' request to play! Not long after, their boy appeared on the horizon! He spent hours happily playing with them, coming close enough to play with his two furry companions but keeping far away from any possibility of being captured.
Saturday also brought a different visitor to the area named “Dennis.” He told them the man Melody had first met at the store (Richard) worked during the day but, like himself and the dog, was also homeless – sleeping in the nearby woods. He shared how Richard had even made a make-shift bed for the little dog. Instead of using it, the pup chose to lay several feet away from Richard, just out of reach and ready to bolt at an instant, if needed. Dennis told them everyone affectionately called the dog “Boo-Boo” and watched out for him. He then quietly shared that he, too, was homeless and spent his nights sleeping inside one of the out-buildings for sale there on the lot.
Dennis’ countenance softened as he realized the kind of potential life his friend Boo-Boo could have if only he would trust these ladies and allow them to help him! He promised to watch the trap and to call if the dog was brave enough to step inside. As they sat and talked, it became obvious what started as a “dog rescue” was quickly becoming a “human rescue”, as well.
There were now two “lost souls” who needed someone to reach out to them! When they asked how they could help, he quietly said, “All I need is a job and a chance to show what I can do!” You see, Dennis has been down the road of survival – surviving drugs and addiction – willing to live in a small structure in a parking lot rather than go to a shelter where he’d be around other drug users. He wanted his life back, wanted to have a family again - simply put: a 2nd chance, and that was something any heart involved in animal rescue could certainly understand.
With heavy hearts and cold bodies, they promised to return again on Sunday to continue their quest - praying the little orphan dog would cooperate! They also prayed hard for Lowes, Dennis and Richard to be “safe and warm” that night.
Sunday brought a repeat of Saturday. It broke their hearts to watch Lowes “bow” to Trudy and Elsie, look at them with such tender little eyes, cautiously reaching out with his paw to touch them in such a gentle fashion – but so fearful of the smallest brush of a human touch! By that evening, hearts were sinking this boy would ever allow himself to be caught. As they were pulling away from their spot shared so often over the last days, Lowes suddenly took off toward the back of the car – begging in his own way for them to “stay” – but when Araceli would stop, open the door so he could feel the warmth from her car flowing over the cold air outside, Lowes would look at them with begging eyes, but wouldn’t come closer.
They repeated this futile dance of ‘stop and go’ several times, and each time with the same heartbreaking results: a little lost soul standing in the cold, unwilling to give up his world of survival to take a leap of faith toward safety and love! How often have we, as humans, stood on that same shelf of uncertainty – wanting so badly to just ‘go for it’ but afraid of giving up what we know for that elusive thing called “faith”? Each time, Lowes would run after them, only to back away when they stopped and offered him sanctuary.
Araceli walked as close to him as he’d allow her to, stooped down and promised him if he’d allow her to get him to safety, he’d have the best mattress and dog bed to rest on, and a fireplace to lie in front of where he could be warm and safe for the rest of his life! With that promise made from her aching heart, she sadly drove into the night, watching him in her rearview mirror as he sat there – all alone.
Sleep was hard to come by that night as she tossed and turned, not able to get the image of this precious little dog waiting on a concrete curb out of her thoughts.
With the dawning of an icy cold Monday morning and the image of little Lowes still haunting her mind, Araceli made a decision to go and try once more that evening to offer her gift of love to Lowes, her parking lot dog! She had made promises, and she couldn't let this pup down!
Late that afternoon, her phone rang - the shaking, excited voice of “Dennis” was crying out, “He’s in there – Boo-Boo’s inside the trap! Hurry, oh hurry! He’s drooling and shaking – he’s hurt! Please help him!” She immediately assured Dennis little Boo-Boo was just very scared and was just trying to get out!
Racing to her vehicle, she was elated and her heart screamed, "FINALLY!" “No more cold nights alone for this baby,” she laughed out in relief! The air was charged with excitement as she contacted Melody with the good news! Several members of a rescue group went to stay with Dennis and Lowes until they could arrive. Happiness was the order of the day; however, little Lowes was, indeed, terrified inside the metal cage – what felt like the end of his world was about to turn into the rescue of a lifetime! They loaded the trap, with him still inside, into Melody's vehicle and headed quickly to the vet waiting nearby!
This was turning into a day FULL of “miracles!” As Melody and her husband took little Lowes to the vet’s office, Araceli was on her way to Dennis, the other ‘lost soul’ now standing in the parking lot all alone - worried about his little buddy's fate but also wondering when his chance at “rescue” would come.
One of the greatest things about the field of rescue is the network of volunteers who spend much of their time helping animals and humans in need. One of those wonderful persons is named “Karen”. She not only spends her days fostering and working in animal rescue, she spends many hours volunteering with her church – helping to feed, clothe and comfort those souls in need.
Araceli contacted Karen and her church immediately offered help to Dennis! Araceli also bought him clothing, gift cards for restaurants, toiletries – everything he would need to get that ‘start’ on the road to a new life! She paid for a one-week stay in the local hotel where he could rest, be warm, safe, have a chance to clean up and get ready to embrace his new life!
“I decided if I was going to help this dog have a better life, I was also going to help this man who kept his promise and helped us save a little stray,” Araceli said later. It was a time for celebrating life, for keeping promises, and giving two lost souls renewed hope!
And what of the final chapter on little Lowes, our little parking lot dog? That chapter is still being written. He’s well on his way to reclaiming his life. He has been fully vetted and Angels Rescue celebrated yet another miracle when they found out he is Heartworm NEGATIVE! Given how long he had been outside with no care whatsoever, it is truly a blessing he is a healthy boy! Lowes is around 1-year old and weighs in at 25 pounds of pure cuteness and love! He’s still extremely skittish around people; however, he absolutely adores dogs and kittens of all sizes!
In fact, little Lowes had his own kitty friend at the parking lot, and when the kitten would come around, Lowes would follow her everywhere! In fact, Dennis saw her go inside the trap shortly before Lowes was found inside!
And the biggest miracle of all? We believe little Lowes most likely saw his feline friend go inside and simply “followed” her in that evening! By the most wonderfully-designed divine plan, Lowes went in with her and as she went out, he must have turned around to escape and his body sprang the trap shut!
Araceli and Melody have plans to go back and “catch” Lowes’ little feline friend to also give her a safe home, too! You see, in the world of “rescue”, we work hard never to leave a needy soul behind! Lowes finally followed his heart and his instinct, and in doing so, saved many lives that day! Lowes’ willingness to trust his feline friend helped him let go of his “today” for a much better “tomorrow”! In life, just as in rescue, it isn’t usually our circumstances holding us back; rather, it is our lack of trust in the path leading through those circumstances which hinders us from fulfilling our destiny!
We are happy to say dreams and promises do come true: Lowes is resting comfortably in the home Araceli told him he would have – he’s snuggled into that wonderfully thick mattress and dog bed she promised him on a cold night in an abandoned parking lot. And, yes - he is sleeping soundly in front of a warm fire, dreaming of yummy treats and furry friends, surrounded by toys and lots of love!
He is a lovable little canine soul who doesn’t quite know yet how to just ‘be a dog’ instead of a survivor! He’s learning it’s okay to accept love and that being a companion with humans can be a terrific thing!
This little lost boy has come “home” in our hearts, and will soon be looking for his new “forever home and family” through Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, thanks to two wonderful hearts bonding in a common goal to “save a lost soul” – and Lowes has learned taking a leap of faith brings true reward, that there are still miraculous moments in life and they DO happen in the most unlikely places, such as a parking lot!
Looking at Lowes resting peacefully in front of the fire, we’re reminded of what Dennis shared on a cold evening about this unique little fellow who claimed so many hearts:
“Everyone who sees this pup looks beyond his circumstances
and his face and they see, instead, his spirit!”
Now that we have the privilege of getting to know this precious dog, we know exactly what Dennis meant.
In the final analysis, it is what we all would like to have said of us as we travel the rocky, sometimes treacherous, road of the pathways in our life….
”Don’t look at my circumstances, see my heart.”
Check out all the "adorable adoptables" looking for their forever homes and families through Angels Among Us Pet Rescue: www.angelsrescue.org/adoptables.asp