A Man on a Plane
Last evening I flew home from Oakland, California, where I attended the Day in the Park Celebration, hosted by the Bichon Frise Club of Northern California.
The first flight was from Oakland to Dallas and was relatively uneventful and I wrote a newsletter to you guys at 30,000 feet!
On the second flight, Bonnie Ferguson, our Executive Assistant and I were really fortunate to board the small twin prop plane bound from Dallas, Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma, because we were traveling on a Buddy passes... donated "Stand-by" tickets.
We watched as the plane filled up with more and more weary travelers, and we suspected that we had been bumped and would have to wait until the next flight. The current flight was oversold by one as it was.
Bonnie JUMPED up and bolted to the counter when they called her name and gave her two boarding passes, one for each of us. Yehawww...we were coming home.
The Delta man told us to BOOGIE on out there as the plane was ready to leave on the runway.
We scurried down the stairs and out onto the humid runway where the small plane was obviously all ready to take off.
Our fairy Dog Pilots, Sharon and Erik Krask, call these small prop jobs, "Weed-Wackers", and you can always tell when it is a passenger's first flight on a weed wacker because all of the blood seems to drain from their faces leaving stark white expressions and clutching fingers.
Of course there weren't two seats together, so Bonnie headed to the back of the 30 passenger wacker, and I took the only remaining seat in the front.
The isles are small so it is not difficult at all to have a conversation with the person sitting across the isle from you.
Last night it was an interesting looking gentleman in his mid-forties. He reminded me of a character actor from the old horror movies like Phantom of the Opera. His face had deep lines and his hair line was receding. He had just moved from Tulsa four months before, to the great state of Montana.
This man should have been a Chamber of Commerce commercial for Montana. He told me that his family's new home has a 360 degree view of the mountains and that when it snows and the moon is full, he could see every star in the sky.
He said it is a magical place where air conditioning is not needed and schools don't close unless it gets to 35 degrees below zero. It seems that all roads are cleared of snow within two hours. He said Montana is pristinely beautiful and uncrowded by humans.
This man spoke of Montana with such love, and a true passion.
As is the way of things, he asked me what I did. I answered, "When?...OH....you want to know about my job!..."
As we sat there with the props vibrating in our ears, I began to share the story of our magnificent obsession, Small Paws® Rescue.
As I listened to myself, I found myself wishing that I had taped the conversation for all of you.
I shared the miracles and tragedies... of which all of you have been a part.
I shared individual rescue stories and stories of the miracle healing power of prayer, and again, all of you were right there.
I told him about Lazarus, the mostly dead kitten that had miraculously returned to life, a direct result of the miracle healing power of prayer..
I told him about the Small Pawser, who a few years ago, sent us an urgent prayer request for her husband.
Her husband had gone in for routine hernia repair and a blood clot had unexpectedly gone to his lungs. His wife got the terrible news that he would not live through the day. He was in a coma and lay dying.
She e-mailed to me that she had to make the terrible decision whether to leave her husbands bedside, in the last hours of his life, or whether to come home and get to the computer, to ask for prayers from the MMPWSPR. (Mighty Mighty Prayer Warriors of Small Paws® Rescue)
She stepped out in FAITH, left the hospital and came home to send the prayer request on the computer.
Later that night she called me. My heart sank as I feared what she might have to tell me.
She had returned to the hospital after her trip home to find her husband SITTING UP IN A CHAIR EATING CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP WITH HIS DOCTOR SMILING THE BIGGEST SMILE AND NO I AM NOT KIDDING!
HE WENT home that night, and not to God, but to his wife!
She sent an e-mail to all of you with the doctor's name and phone number because she knew this looked absolutely unbelievable!
I told him about Sheryl Street leaving a chilling message on my machine, telling us that her town of Dutch John Utah was surrounded by FIRE. She had gotten her dogs into the car and she was evacuating! She screamed "The fire is coming! Please pray!" and she hung up while she was still screaming.
It horrified us as we did not know if she had made it out safely.
We sent an urgent "Stop, Drop and Pray" request out to the mailing list. Thankfully, two days later, Sheryl returned to her home, which was still standing while many others had not been so fortunate.
After I told the man on the plane about this story, I told him that Small Paws® is not only about the dogs, but about the people who love the dogs. I told him that we want to share the news about the miracle healing power of prayer that is available to each of us.
I told him that Small Paws® Rescue is a GOD THING, and that we see His hand moving through our country, His miracles to perform! I told him that we are family to those without families and that when one of us hurts, we all hurt.
He asked me how many of us were in this "family." I told him we were a growing family of a little over 4000 folks from coast to coast and from Belgium, England, Sweden, Indonesia, Canada, Spain, South Africa, and Mexico.
It was at this point that the man on the plane asked me with what church I was affiliated.
I realized I had become rather passionate in my story telling, and I answer him that I was just a plain old Baptist girl from Oklahoma.
That's when he corrected me. He told me that I may attend a Baptist church, and that I may call myself a Baptist, but that my message was anything but plain old Baptist!
I think he meant this as a complement.:)
Then he told me what he does. He is a publisher of family oriented books, and he sells them directly to Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas. Their company also manufactures various breed trinkets. Labrador salt and pepper shakers, Pug Chip and Dip servers, etc. They had not yet manufactured anything Bichonly. (YET!)
He was on his way to Bentonville, Arkansas last night to visit with the Walmart folks.
I told him that I had known old Sam Walton himself.
Of course people look at me with doubt, when I first begin to tell this story, but after they hear it they come to know it is true.
I told him the story of the Bunnies, Sam Walton, and me....
After I told him this story, I went on to tell him the story of the day I was almost killed by a BEAR in Noel, Missouri...in a graveyard no less. (Well, it would have been convenient at least)
I told him how I believe that God puts these things in our lives to prepare us for the job He has chosen for us. I told him about how the death of my heart dog, Nicholas, had led me to begin Small Paws® Rescue, along with my rescue partner, Susan Sebring in Topeka, Kansas.
Canine Lymphoma: Nicholas' Story
I told him how there is nothing better in the whole world than to be doing what you KNOW God has planned for you.
I told him that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had been born to do what I do, and that thanks to Small Paws®, many other people have found their true callings in life, because they share these stories with us.
I told him about how Small Paws® has been featured on Animal planet, twice a month for FREE, for going on three years now, and we were still being shown in re-runs monthly.
I told him there is no way that a human being person could have arranged all of this. This is a GOD THING and of that there is no doubt.
After I told him these stories, he asked me if I had a publisher for my book. My BOOK??? I hadn't said a word to him about a book, and so I asked him, "What book?"
He answered..."The book you have written about the Bunnies and Sam Walton and about the day that I was almost Bear Chow...and about this Small Paws® Rescue that I loved so much.
It took me back a bit, and I realized, I had just shared my life, AND my book with the man on the plane.
I told him I did have a book ready. I told him that it was a collection of twenty two animal stories and it had a working title of "Creature Comforts."
I told him the stories had already been edited, thanks to a Small Pawser and dear friend, who writes for Larry Jones of "Feed the Children" fame, and that the stories were ready for publication. I told him that the book was on a back burner for now as Bichons were falling from the skies and all of my waking dreams were spent trying to figure out how to keep each one from falling through the cracks.
This man asked for my business card, and said he may be interested in publishing my book.
He asked if I wrote with the same passion that I have when telling a story in person, and I told him that when I first meet some of you guys that you tell me that I talk like I type. I asked if that is what he meant, and he answered by laughing...yes, that's a good sign.
Soon we had begun our final decent...(I have never felt comfortable with plane people referring to anything as a FINAL decent) and that soon we would arrive at the terminal. (Another term that should be ditched by airline personnel if you ask me)
This man had a smile on his face when we parted and I had no doubt that he would relay the story of the Bunnies and Sam Walton to his daughters when he returned to his glorious Montana.
Isn't it funny how God works? He always sends to us just what we need...when we may not even know we need it. He doesn't answer every prayer with a "yes", because He knows the big picture, and we only see a small corner of it.
If you aren't sure that you have followed your calling, ask God what he has in store for you! Remember, the Bible tell us that He will grant us the desires of our hearts! What a thrilling promise!
I know that when I learned of the cancer that would take my Nicholas from me, I wanted to die in his place. I asked God that if he HAD to do this thing..take my Nicholas from cancer, I asked him to please just show me why, before I died.
Canine Lymphoma: Nicholas' Story
Oh Lord. Has he ever shown me why. If I hadn't lost my Nick almost five years ago, I would have never ended up on the steps of my first puppy mill in Webb City Missouri.
Chipper's Story o Survival in a Puppy Mill
I would never have known and loved a Bichon, and I would never find myself in the fight of my life against the commercial kennel industry in Missouri.
I would never never have met all of you, and I would have never been a part of creating the largest Breed rescue in the country, today.
In the Begining
How we got started
Yes Virginia, there are still folks who pursue their passions...even while holding down jobs as nurses and teachers, as mechanics and pilots.
These are the people of Small Paws® Rescue. These are the people who are indelibly etched in the mind...of the man on the plane. All my love, Robin