Thursday, December 01, 2005

April, Ingrid & Mountaintop Miracles

April was a dog.
Ingrid is an Internet user in Belgium.
Katrina was a hurricane.

April belonged to the Gomez family...Lee says she was really Michael and Ana's dog. She grew up with them but she grew old as Michael and Ana grew from children to young adults. Dogs do that...they grow old faster than we do.

When Lee and her children were literally washed out of their Midcity New Orleans house by Katrina the Hurricane, April and Kiki - the family's other dog - were left behind. Ana was certain they had her journal she wrote, "...the dogs were in the back room...April and Kiki...they did not make it.


Ana's words stung...the hopelessness...the helplessness.

Ingrid lives in Belgium, far away from New Orleans. To my knowledge she has never been to the United States, but she shared something with the Gomez clan...a sense of helplessness. She wanted to do something for the victims of Katrina so Ingrid has spent hours and hours of her time on the Internet looking at pictures of lost pets/found pets and then trying to locate their owners.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Ingrid. The first email I ever received from her...or from Belgium for that matter. Attached was a fuzzy picture and a politely worded message saying essentially she had run across a picture of a found dog with a rabies tag and the tag led the dog's current caretakers to believe the dog might have belonged to someone in New Orleans named Lee Gomez. Doing a search over the Internet she was led to my blog, she read the Gomez family story and said, "I know the family thinks both dogs drown but could this dog be April?"

I showed the picture to Lee.

April was alive!

The discovery brought great joy and some consternation to our household.

April was not only alive, she had somehow escaped Katrina and New Orleans and had made it to Arizona to a Humane Society shelter! With Ingrid's help, I put Lee in touch with the folks caring for April. Despite having heartworms and being nearly 12 years old, April was doing okay and a woman at the shelter had "fallen in love" with her. They were pampering her a plenty.

Reuniting April with her family was a dream, but we weren't sure it would be a reality. We have three dogs...April was old and sick. Getting her back here could be done but whether she'd survive the heartworm treatment she'd have to have was questionable. We were frankly unsure how to proceed, but in the interim the woman in Arizona was gladly caring for her and promised to continue doing so until we figured things out.

She was also taking April on great adventures. One adventure took her to the top of a mountain...another day she spent visiting with a tame cougar! April was exploring worlds she certainly never knew existed and she was in loving hands.

Yesterday April died.

She was old and sick and her heart gave out. No one expected her to live through Katrina, she had long been given up for dead, but somehow she survived...somehow she was taken in by gentle people filled with love, and somehow a woman in Belgium managed to find Lee Gomez via my blog to let her know.

It was sad and it was joyous.

Lee was devastated as was April's caretaker in Arizona. April was old...April was sick - it was a miracle she lived through Katrina at all - but that didn't lessen the sadness.

When Ana and I spoke about April she said, "It's like in the movies where someone knows they're dying but before they go they get to take this great see things they never thought they'd see...."

And she was was like that...the trip of a the end of her lifetime.

From New Orleans, to Belgium, to Arizona, to blogs...this is where miracles are at play.

I believe in miracles.

Sometimes miracles have sad endings...but I think they're miracles still.