The alarm clock going off at 6:00 a.m. sounded like a buzz-saw going through Jerry Matthews’ brain. The events of the night before flooded his mind like unwelcome visitors. How many people had died in the horrible car/train crash he witnessed? Could he have done more to help in the aftermath of the wreck?
Jerry’s memory of the beautiful German Shepherd desperately trying to save his family was heartbreaking. The desperation the animal must have felt pierced Jerry’s heart. Who says that dogs don’t have feelings? The folks who believe that must’ve never owned a dog or been around dogs for any length of time; otherwise they would surely know better. “I just pity them,” Jerry said to himself. “They’ve missed so much by not knowing the mind of a dog and the companionship they offer. These animals are truly a gift from God and must be angels in disguise!”
As Jerry mechanically went through the motions of beginning his workday, the images of the heroic dog’s actions persisted and eclipsed the horror of what he’d seen. Jerry remembered dialing 911 in a state of panic. The streets were deserted except for the unlucky people in the car ahead of him.
After completing the call, he jumped from his car just in time to see the shepherd climbing from the wreckage. Only moments later, the dog who had escaped unscathed crawled back into the mangled car and pulled a two-year old girl from the wreckage by her shirt-tail. After depositing her at Jerry’s feet, the dog ran back and re-entered the wrecked vehicle. Suddenly, it burst into flames while Jerry held his breath waiting for the dog to reappear. After several agonizing minutes, he crawled back through the only escape hole of the now blazing vehicle and stood looking at the wreckage. He must’ve determined that no one had survived. He quickly went over to the little girl in Jerry’s arms and started licking her face. The dog smelled of smoke and Jerry noticed that his fur was singed and he was limping.
Jerry told the arriving police officer his name, what he witnessed and about the bravery of the dog. He asked what would happen to the animal.
The officer responded, “Mr. Matthews, we’re always looking for suitable dogs for search and rescue. We need to replace a dog that has recently retired. If no family members are left to claim him, we can train this fellow for our canine service. The natural instincts and abilities displayed by this dog tonight will fit our requirements perfectly.”
“So, he’ll be in good hands then. What about this little girl who lost her parents tonight?” Jerry asked as he hugged her tightly.
“We’ll make every attempt to find her remaining relatives to see that she is cared for. You can be sure of that,” the officer replied.
Jerry decided that everything that could be done was being done and he headed home after saying a prayer. Lord, thank you for the little girl who was spared and thank you for the angel in disguise that risked his life to save her. Amen.
Jerry drove in to work that morning, radio blaring to distract him from the events of the night before. He heard breaking news: “Two occupants of a car that collided with a train last night were killed. The couple was babysitting a neighbor’s two-year-old girl and she and her dog are the sole survivors. The man and woman were identified as Harriett and Jerry Matthews, Sr.
Copyright © 2011 Patty Wallis
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