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Candy: The Christmas Miracle
 
 
 
Steve had little patience with people, and he didn't have much more with
puppies, either. He preferred, on the whole, the adult dogs. Puppies,
however, came in after the holidays, because people found out:
 
 
 
they were allergic
the puppy was too hard to train
the puppy was too much work
the landlord didn't allow puppies
the landlord didn't allow puppies that were going to be BIG
the puppy barked too much
the puppy wasn't the kind of dog they wanted.
 
 
 
This list could have been elaborated on, over and over. But I watched Steve's
face as he faced the man in the lobby, the man who was brining in the puppy
for adoption 8 days before Christmas.
 
 
 
Steve was our 'dog' person. He was the one who in general, was the 'expert',
and I liked him alot. Tall, laconic, dry witted, and incredibly intelligent, he had
gotten to the point with many people where they tried what little was left of
his patience.  As I leaned against the counter, I had a feeling this would be
one of them.
 
 
 
"You see;" the man holding the puppy was saying -
"We just found out we can't have dogs where we are. We got the puppy from
my friend, Joe, who works with me downtown.  He got the puppy from this
guy he knew who got it for his kid, but the kid was allergic, and he got the
puppy from someone who had gotten the puppy from this lady who got it for
a present from her kids, but she was too old to take care of it and figured it
would be a good present for someone with kids. We figured that, too. She's
a nice little puppy."
 
 
 
The nice little puppy was beautiful, slightly longish white fur. She was
obviously a mix.
 
 
 
She was only about 9 weeks old. She was cowering in fear, with huge dark
eyes, and I could see the confusion there. She looked in good shape, but
emotionally, I wondered where she was. She was very young, and she had
already been through more homes than many adult dogs.
 
 
 
Steve looked at me, and I shrugged.
"I'll have the vet examine her, and if she checks out, we'll take her."
he told the man, taking the puppy.
 
 
 
"What an idiot."
Was Steve's remark as we leaned across the exam table in the clinic.  The
puppy sat there, quivering, obviously terrified of yet one more strange thing
in her life.  Dr. Morris gently gave her a once over, and gave her the thumbs
up for adoption, but suggested she remain in the clinic a couple days, as she
was a little underweight, probably from stress.
 
 
 
We told the man we'd be taking the puppy, and he looked relieved. He handed
us a small leash and a box of biscuits.
"Her name is Candy." he said, as we parted company.
 
 
 
Steve came and sat beside me at the desk. He looked gloomy and morose.
"I wish people wouldn't think that getting a dog for Christmas is a great idea...
it just makes the pet stores profit and the puppies wind up...if they are lucky...
like that one there."
 
 
 
I agreed. Every year we saw alot of the same thing. Candy's difference was that
she came before Christmas, and that was at least a small change.
 
 
 
The next day Dr. Morris called me.
"This puppy doesn't know how to eat much on her own, Fyre. I think that must
have been taken away from her mother too young. Someone's going to have to
watch her eat, and help urge her along. I don't think she should go to just
anyone...make sure the home she gets they have alot of time to spend with her."
 
 
 
People were coming in like crazy for puppies and kittens, but it was not our policy
to adopt right before the holidays, which were too stressful for most puppies and
kittens.  This seemed to agree with Candy, who got to know our staff, and in two
days time was romping in the small back room with 2 of our cats who liked dogs.
 
 
 
That afternoon, Steve was asked to pick out a dog or a puppy to take with him
to do an educational presentation at the Greenpoint Library. The lecture, to kids
and their parents, was why you shouldn't get a pet for the holidays. Steve
wanted to take an older dog, but being he needed a dog he could fit in the small
car that belonged to our handyman, he reluctantly decided on Candy.
 
 
 
Steve got there, got set up, and spoke with the library staff, who were animal
lovers, about the shelter, all of who admired the puppy. Candy, in her days with
us, wasn't as shy as she had been, but Steve took great pains to make sure the
puppy was comfortable. He put her into a large carrier to nap til they were ready
for her, and he set up for the 'talk'.
 
 
 
The audience that filtered in were made up of adults and kids of all ages. They
took seats in the kids library, and Steve watched them with irony, wondering
how many would really listen to him.
 
 
 
He was introduced by the Head Librarian and had just begun to talk when he
noticned a slight disturbance in the back of the room.  A man was entering,
pushing a wheelchair with a child in it.  Steve noticed the little girl, who
looked to be about 10, had a scarf over her head and looked very pale.  They
took their place near the side and Steve noticed they were very attentive.
 
 
 
A few mintues into the presentation, Steve lifted out Candy from her box.
There was a chorus of 'ooohs' and 'aaahhhs' but from the side there came
a small scream. Steve turned and saw the man, his face white, clutching
the girl's hand.  The girl looked as if she was seeing a ghost.
 
 
 
"It's her, dad!!!! It's her."
The childs voice was filled with anguish, and Steve and everyone turned to
look at the man. He was white faced and obviously shaken.  The little girl w
as crying, reaching out her arms.
"Oh, please, please let me hold her. She's mine, she's mine!"
 
 
 
There was dead silence in the room.  Steve looked at the man and held up
his hand to the group. He went over to the man, and settled the puppy in
the little girls lap.  She buried her face in the puppie's fur and Candy turned
and began to lick her ear.  Her scarf slipped and Steve could see she had no
hair.  The man reached out and squeezed her hand, then looked up at Steve.
"We can discuss this when I'm done."
 
 
 
Steve said, not knowing what else to do.  Despite his jaded nature, he felt
a lump in his throat, and the rest of the lecture was delivered with a paced
warmth and more acceptance than probably anything else he'd done.  At the
end, he let the children come up and gently pet the puppy where it sat in the
little girl's lap.  The little girl showed them how to pet the little animal,
gently, and held some of the smaller children's hands.  When the lecture
was over, after Steve had fielded several questions about the shelter, he
went back to the man and his daughter.  The little girl smiled up at him
through tear streaked lashes.
"Thank you for bringing her to me! I knew I'd see her again! I just knew it!"
 
 
 
Steve turned to the man, who gave him a desperate look. He led him to the
side of the library.
"Please let us adopt this puppy. This must be a miracle."
 
 
 
He paused and looked at Steve.
"You see, a few weeks ago we answered an ad about someone who had puppies
for adoption. Ann....my daughter....she has cancer.  For Christmas she asked for
a puppy, and we thought it would be a good idea.  My wife and I had wanted a
dog too, and Ann, well, it seemed to be an incentive for her to not give up,
too, you know?  We picked out this puppy, and the woman said she'd hold it for
us til the puppy was a little older.  It was still nursing and being taken care of
by it's mother.  We gave the woman our number, and told her to call us.  We
figured she would.  But two weeks later when I called, she told me she had sold
the whole litter.  We tried to find out more, but she wouldn't tell me anything.
It devestated my daughter.   She's been sort of having a hard time with things.
I didn't think she'd ever get over it.  She prayed for that puppy....."
 
 
 
He began to cry.  Steve did too.  He had a lump in his throat.  He shook his head.
"Come back to the shelter with me.  You'll have to do the paperwork to make it
offical."
 
 
 
That afternoon, Candy, renamed Holly, went home in the arms of a little girl
who thanked us for being angels.  Her parents, who had both come in, hugged
us in tears.
 
 
 
A year later Steve came upstairs and handed me an envelope.  There was a
Christmas card inside with a pretty young blond girl sitting on a sofa, her arms
around a silky snow coated dog, with a red collar around it's neck.
 
 
 
"Merry Christmas from Anne and her sister, Holly." the card read.
"I feel better now, Steve, because of you.  I will always take good care of
Holly.
Love, Ann."
 
 
 
It was the only time I'd ever seen Steve cry.
 
 
Author ~ Unknown To Me