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NITRO IS HOME!!!! That’s the important part. If you’ve been following this improbable story on Facebook (Nitro’s Journey Home), you know most of the story already, but let me fill you in on the details. (If you HAVEN’T been following on Facebook, let me invite you to join us by “Liking” the page. We plan to keep it current so that our friends can follow Nitro’s progress.)
On December 1, Vinessa, her four small children, her dog and Nitro left Montana for the trip to Michigan. She started out a day later than expected due to one of the little ones running a fever. Once she started feeling better the final leg of the journey began.
Late that night, in South Dakota, Vinessa encountered a patch of “black ice.” The Expedition made a series of six, 360-degree spins and ended up in a farmer’s field. By the grace of God, it didn’t flip (even though the whole load on the top shifted to one side). The children were all buckled in and asleep, but poor Laela ended up on Vinessa’s lap. Nitro, thankfully, was not thrown around too much. Vinessa said she saw her life and the lives of all in her car flash before her eyes.
She was able to get road service out in a reasonable amount of time. The repairman looked at her car and said that he didn’t see anything physically wrong with the car (other than that the tire lost air due to being rocked so hard). He put the spare on and helped them get the load redistributed back on the roof. If you check the photo below, you’ll see the angel. Yes, I do believe in angels and there was one looking over Vinessa and her little band that night. In the photo, I definitely see an angel peering in the back window. Vinessa took several other similar shots, and only in this one does the angel appear. It’s not a lens aberration.
Since they were out in the middle of nowhere, Vinessa sucked it up and drove to Illinois where she took a long break to get some rest, try to soothe her aching body, and get her nerves calmed. From there, it was a reasonable drive to her family in Michigan. She got in on December 3.
After five days of rest at home with family, Vinessa and Nitro got back on the road. With her this time was her sister, Stephanie. They were heading to Grand Rapids. Also heading for the same destination was a car from Brighton. In that car were four people aching to see Nitro. It was Jim and I and Nitro’s new “parents,” Nichole and Jack.
If you are wondering why Nitro wasn’t coming home with us to live, remember back to “Part 1,” where I talked about Nitro not getting along with other dogs – especially other male dogs. We have our older, female, GSD – Sydney – and Bear, who is a young (just past 2 years) male GSD. It was fairly obvious that Nitro would not be happy, long-term, with us.
Early on, when we were first talking about bringing Nitro home, our co-worker and friend, Nichole, told us that she would absolutely LOVE to have him. She and her children previously had a rescued German Shepherd named Lady. After Lady went to the Rainbow Bridge, they’d always said that they would love to have another rescue dog, but there had never been the right circumstance for them. On top of that, Nichole was diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition. A puppy would be out of the question, yet her daughter, Tehya, still longed for a dog. They also have the patience and love to share with our Nitro. He’s still got a long way to go before he’s up to optimum weight and health. He has already gained almost 15 pounds under Vinessa’s loving care, but he has another 25 or more to go. He also has some joint issues from sleeping where and when he could find a place on the street. His fortitude has gotten him this far. I know that loving care, time and patience will help take him the rest of the way.
I couldn’t tell y’all this part of the story before, because it was quickly determined that Nitro would be going to become a member of Jack, Nichole and Tehya’s family, but it was to be a huge surprise for Tehya. As soon as Nichole said she would love to have Nitro join her family, I knew that THIS was the whole reason for everything. Nitro was meant to be their dog and Tehya’s best friend.
After all Nitro had been through, he had persevered, and “miraculously” continued on. He could also be amazing encouragement for Nichole on the more difficult days. Tehya is thirteen – an age when having a non-judgmental best friend is so incredibly important. This was the match that Nitro had waited his whole life for. I walked around with a silly grin from the very moment I knew that this was, indeed, the whole reason everything had happened as it had. It was meant to be.
The seven of us (Nichole, Jack, Vinessa, Stephanie, Jim, I, and (of COURSE) Nitro) finally met around noon on December 8. After coming all the way across country, it was rather amusing that the last hours were a comedy of errors (the snow had started and we showed up at two different meeting places); but it was finally time for us all to meet. We hadn’t seen Nitro in years. His time on the streets showed on his body, but Vinessa had done a marvelous job of putting 15 pounds on him in the short weeks she’d had him. The most amazing thing, though, was that he is still an amazingly friendly, people-oriented, happy dog. Even after the years where his life had, obviously, been very tough, he was still a wonderful, loving dog.
I was thrilled to finally get to hug our angel, Vinessa! I am – and will always be – so incredibly grateful to her for all she went through to bring our boy home. We were total strangers, yet she trusted us enough to change all her plans to help us. From here on, I consider her family. I am proud to know someone who is so generous of spirit.
Here are several photos of our initial meeting. Lots and lots of happy tears were being shed.
During our lengthy text conversations, I found out that Vinessa feels as though she has now found her “calling.” She wants to foster rescue dogs. I think she’ll be phenomenal! When talking about her past when she fostered kittens, she actually said, “I refuse to be a crazy cat lady. Although I wouldn’t mind being a crazy dog lady. LOL!” Imagine how tickled I was when I found THIS shirt advertised on line.
We also bought her this shirt. The reason is obvious.
It was time for farewells. We weren’t saying goodbye because, after the terrifying accident, Vinessa realized that she really wanted to move back to Michigan to be near her family. Her husband, David, travels extensively for work, so he can live anywhere as long as there is an airport nearby. This brings me great joy because that means that I will be able to see her often. It also warms my heart that she and her family will also be able to see Nitro occasionally. They formed quite a bond and I think it will be wonderful for them all.
Here’s Nitro, in the back of our car. It wasn’t long before he was sound asleep on his bed.
After a quick stop at Ed Bock Feeds in Pinckney, Michigan to visit our friends who have been closely following Nitro’s progress, we got home. It was a good time to give Nitro a little time to stretch his legs before the final leg of his journey – travel to his new home. It didn’t appear that he recognized our front yard as the one he had played in. Of course, that’s not all that surprising considering how many years had passed.
Nichole and Jack took Nitro home – for the first time. He seemed to realize right away that this was where he was supposed to be. God knows, it’s been a long, circuitous, and difficult journey; He made himself right at home jumping up on the couch with Nichole and promptly going to sleep. Little did he know that the very next day he would meet “his” girl.
Tehya had been at a birthday sleepover out of town with her BFF. How we’d all been able to keep the surprise this long is still a mystery. I know it had to be driving her mom and Jack crazy, but the secret was still intact.
Nitro – ever the intrepid traveler – jumped into the car with Nichole and Jack and away they went. I wish I could have seen the look on Tehya’s face. Now, I have to tell you, Tehya knew the story about Nitro. She had been following the Facebook page. She’d also been begging her mom to buy him presents and to come visit him. She was under the assumption that he would be coming home to live with us. She’d already grown a strong attachment to the dog behind the story – long before she’d ever met him.
Her mom tells me that she told Tehya that she had an early Christmas present. She asked what it was and then, just then, saw Nitro. Her eyes got as big as saucers and she started jumping and squealing, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Then all she could do was hug Nitro’s neck.
Not long after that, Tehya sent Jim and me a very sweet thank you video. If I can get it to attach to this blog post, I will. The emotion in her voice took our breath away. It brought tears springing out of our eyes. It felt so very right for such a lovely young lady to have a dog who needs her so badly.
I’m going to attach several photos that Nichole has shared of Nitro with his girl. It’s evident that this was a match made in Heaven.
This last photo was just this morning. Looks to me like they are inseparable. It just looks right.
I want to take a moment to thank everyone who sent along their prayers and best wishes. This has been an amazing journey for all of us. I hope that this story has brought you some smiles. I think my biggest “take-away” from all of this is the generosity and general good in people.
A huge thank you goes out to wonderful old and new friends in the United Kingdom who have been following Nitro’s story on this blog and on his Facebook page. Their generosity to put together a contribution to help offset the costs incurred in bringing Nitro home were a complete and wonderful surprise. To each of you, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
Vinessa is an angel – pure and simple. How many people would be willing to drop everything while readying for a trip to go get a complete stranger’s dog out of a shelter? How many would be willing to spend their own money for the fees for the release and then take the dog to their own vet – again, at their own expense – to be sure the dog was healthy enough to travel and know what she would have to do to properly care for him? Sure, we told her we would reimburse her, but there was never a question from her in that regard. She just kept saying that she was thrilled to be able to do this. You can’t tell me that there aren’t angels living among us.
Up Next: Catching Up – A Little of This and A Little of That (of course, including a Nitro update)