Last week I shared a story about gifts, collies and more. If you missed it, I suggest you go back and read part one! It continues here:
The story did not end with me handing my puppy, Peter, over to the nice woman from Mexico.
She kept in touch with me regularly. Her vivid letters, describing their simple lives together, helped me work though my feelings. As the months wore on, hers was obviously the place Peter was destined to go. From the first day they got home, he acted as if he had been born there. This four-month-old puppy went directly to the old, nearly blind collie, Lassie, that still lived. He greeted her, let her sniff him thoroughly and led her confidently over to the sheep. Then, the two of them proceeded to work together, putting them right into the pen, without hesitation. The woman took it for granted that this was what they were supposed to do, but it was quite amazing, since Peter had never worked with even my chickens or ducks before. I was still in the wheelchair at that point, recovering from another surgery. My collies all had heart and loved to work. They were always in tune with what the "master" wanted. So I am sure that to Peter, it seemed that this was just the right thing to do.
But there was even more to this...
About six months after I had handed Peter over, I got a frantic call from the woman. Something had happened to Peter, who they now called (of course) Laddie. She had taken him to a veterinarian, for a booster shot. Just as the vet was about to give it to him, someone burst into his office, startling the doctor, badly. He'd been robbed of his vaccines and generic medicines the week before, at gunpoint. As the doctor turned to see who was coming in, Laddie/Peter turned his head and the vaccine went into his eye, blinding him, instantly. She drove to a pay phone and called me collect, frantic and feeling horribly guilty. I was just sick and angry. How could this happen to such a beautiful animal? Obviously, I thought, the vet was incompetent! I should have never let this woman have him, I thought. I had her bring Laddie back to Tucson, to my vet, at my expense, to be checked over. He was indeed stone blind in that eye. His lovely expression was now really strange, with that weird, cloudy eye. It was a real shame.
Still, the dog didn't seem to care how he looked. The woman was already heartsick -- so what could be done? Since young Laddie was healthy in every other way, the vet said what I already knew . . . "Take Laddie home."
A week or so went by before the woman’s next letter arrived. This one told me the real reason that it was the right thing for me to send my special Peter to Mexico, to become another "Laddie."
While the woman and Laddie were gone, a small local boy had been injured in an accident. The boy had been blinded, in the same eye as Laddie. His friends made fun of him and his family turned him out on the streets to beg. Sometimes poor people can be very cold to people with disabilities --their reality is different from ours – and the family now saw the boy as a liability.
When the big collie came home, the lady took him into town, walking right down the main "street." All of the kids in the small town and some adults were following him. The new Laddie had become so popular that nearly everyone vied for his attention and to give him a pat. I can just imagine him strutting his stuff, with his tail proudly waving back and forth -- and a big smile on his face! I cry, even as I think of it now.
Laddie walked by the small boy, sitting in the street, trying to beg. The little boy was depressed and suicidal. The dog stopped. The boy looked up at the dog that was everyone's hero and saw what had happen to Laddie’s eye. Laddie had never played favorites with the kids, bestowing his kisses and grins equally. Somehow, he knew the boy needed him. Laddie sat beside him, gave him a lick and his paw. The boy threw his arms around the big dog and the two of them went down the road together, all of the way to the woman’s ranch.
To the amazement of the villagers, young Laddie went right back to work, gathering in the sheep and playing with the children. He never seemed to notice his partial blindness and it certainly didn't affect his usefulness. The boy was Laddie's favorite, from then on and when the boy's family saw the collie hard at work, just like always, it touched them. He wasn't forced to beg anymore. Now he lives and works at the ranch, with Laddie and the lady.
I am glad that I overcame my strong desire to keep Peter for myself. Letting him go was hard, but I know that everything happened just as it was supposed to. If I had had any doubts in my mind after all of that, when I heard the little boy’s name, I received another confirmation. His name is Pedro, which is, of course, Spanish for Peter.
A few years later I was pregnant with a son. Sadly, he didn't make it into this world. That's another story for another time...but I decided on a name for him before I let him go. I named him Peter.