I’ve walked around all day with this dazed look on my face (so my husband says) muttering the same words, “Amazing, simply amazing!”

I’ve walked around all day with this dazed look on my face (so my husband says) muttering the same words, “Amazing, simply amazing!”   

About three months ago, a woman called to report that she thought their family must be a magnet for homeless dogs. For quite some time a chocolate Lab and her two puppies had taken up residence there and then invited another “friend” to join them, another large Lab mix boy. She described all of these dogs as extremely good natured and friendly. They were loved by her entire family but, they already had three dogs of their own. In addition, she and her husband had some serious health challenges, so they just couldn’t keep and properly care for this little homeless pack.

One by one we rescued, vetted, and placed all of them in foster care or found forever homes — with the exception of one, the big Lab mix boy they had named Bruce. Each time we went to this home to pick up one of “the girls,” Bruce followed us to the car, verbalizing his concern. He even volunteered to hop in and go along, as if his job was to watch over and take care of them. Bruce made me feel like a “home-wrecker.”

Finally, last weekend, a terrific, appropriate foster home was offered for Bruce. Sunday afternoon it was a reluctant Bruce’s turn to be picked. Off we went to Joplin to meet his new foster mom, Teresa. She had a large, privacy fenced back yard and was prepared to give him all the love and attention his heart desired. Sunday afternoon and evening, Bruce had her undivided attention. About 11 p.m. she attempted to settle him inside the house to sleep, but he paced and cried so she relented, putting his bed, food and water in their nice back yard shed. Bruce curled right up on his bed and seemed content. As she and her husband told him “good night,” they made sure that the yard gate was padlocked and placed concrete blocks on either side for extra security.

Teresa rose at 5 a.m. and headed straight out to say “good morning” to Bruce. The large wood screws that held the hinges on the gate were pulled completely out and the concrete blocks were moved. Bruce was gone. Panicked, she immediately began frantically looking and calling for Bruce, driving all over her neighborhood. An all points bulletin was sent out far and wide to all our FFAA volunteers, friends, email contacts, Facebook friends, vet clinics, animal control and shelters. Flyers were distributed en mass. We prayed and searched, searched and prayed. Last evening, someone left a brief message on the FFAA phone saying they’d seen a Lab mix at the baseball diamonds in Granby that was wearing an FFAA tag, but left no contact information. One of our Granby foster moms went to investigate but found no dog. 

Mrs. “L”s daughter, who saw the Facebook post that Bruce was missing, felt so bad. Around midnight, she told Mrs. “L” she caught a glimpse of Bruce outside their window. Her mother consoled, “Honey, you just want to see Bruce.” But, there he was; soaking wet, exhausted and thirsty boy with a tail still wagging. Mrs. “L” left me a voice message at 12:15 a.m. saying Bruce was back! In disbelief, I listened to the message three times.  
This amazing, wonderful dog with an incredible GPS, traveled from north Joplin back to Neosho, returning to the family he’d “chosen”! At the very least, he traveled 30 miles (and who knows how much further). In almost exactly 24 hours, Bruce declared with crystal clarity, that these people are the “owners of his heart.”

Mrs. “L” agreed that Bruce was “home to stay.” Any dog who loved them enough to make that kind of miraculous, dangerous, long trek was too special to ever turn away again. We will support Bruce’s choice by helping this family with his care.   

I’m going by to see Bruce when I finish writing. I think I owe him an apology and a “thank-you” for reminding me what true love and devotion should look like, and that it should not be trifled with.

Leanne Williams is president of Faithful Friends.