I know - everyone says "Well this happened - it really did - to my friend!" But this time it is true. My friend, Jeff - who led me to the Lethal White Aussie Rescue Group where we adopted our Mazie girl - is Jeff Middleton in the story below! Never Give Up! Miracles Happen Everyday!!!
CLICK HERE To see pics of Jonah & Patch and to read the story on the newspaper's website
Family welcomes prodigal pet
By CELIA DEWOODY
Times Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Sunday, January 25, 2009 6:07 AM
Sometimes answers to prayers come along when you least expect them.
The Galloway family — Mike, his wife Sonya, 11-year-old Jonah, 10-year-old Alyssa and nine-year-old Noah — moved to Harrison from Opelousas, La., last August, when Mike accepted a call to be the new youth pastor at First Baptist Church. Along with them came the family’s well-loved pets — Patch, a seven-year-old, medium-sized black dog of uncertain parentage, and the family’s large and dignified cat, Taz.
One foggy summer morning, not long after they had moved into their new home on Capps Road, Sonya let Patch out into the backyard.
“The fog was so dense, you could barely see 10 or 15 feet,” Mike said. “My wife let Patch out, and he just took off.”
And he didn’t come home. The Galloways called and called, and looked and looked, and could find no sign of Patch.
“I thought for a while we might find him, maybe he would show up,” Mike said.
“We called the Humane Society and left his description, but we never heard back,” Sonya said. “We thought maybe he’d just gone off to die.”
“We live by Edwards Ranch, and there are fields for days,” Mike said. “And because we were so new to the area, we figured Patch just couldn’t find his way home.”
He said Patch still had his old tags from Louisiana, because they hadn’t had a chance to take him to a local vet.
“We thought we’d never see him again,” he said.
Alyssa said, “I was really, really sad.”
“Whenever I found out he wasn’t coming back, I was really sad, too,” Noah said.
The Galloways all grieved for their lost dog, as they prayed hard that the good Lord would lead Patch back home.
But time went by, and there was no word of Patch. In October, the family went to Harvest Fest to volunteer at the First Baptist Church booth. At another booth were dogs available for adoption.
“You get used to having a dog,” Mike said. “Our house wasn’t quite the same.”
In the rescue dog booth was a pretty beagle about a year and a half old that needed a family, so the Galloways went home happily that day with Bayou, their new dog.
Taz, the cat, who had never seen eye-to-eye with Patch, developed a cautious friendship with Bayou, who soon won all the humans’ hearts.
“She plugged right into the family, and we got comfortable,” Mike said. “We’d never heard anything about Patch, and after several months go by, we didn’t expect to hear from Patch again.”
But they never stopped missing their shaggy black friend.
• • •
Later in the year, Jeff Middleton, a member of First Baptist Church and a volunteer at the Ozark Humane Society Shelter, helped get a service project going with the church’s pre-teen group, “The Link.”
The group divided into five teams and decided that each Wednesday, one team would go out to the animal shelter with a leader.
Jonah Galloway was in the first team to go to the shelter on Jan. 14, and Middleton went along as the team’s leader. When they arrived at the shelter, he asked the kids to each choose a dog to walk.
“(Jonah) picked a medium-sized shaggy black dog — sort of a border collie, shep, Aussie-mix-looking guy — to walk. He said it reminded him of their dog that disappeared after they moved here,” Middleton said.
When Patch had gotten lost, one of his black ears had been drooping, because of a problem with ear infections on that side.
The black dog Jonah chose to walk at the shelter had two drooping ears.
Jonah said he walked the black dog for a few minutes, then sat down to rest for a minute. He said the dog reminded him so much of the lost Patch, he thought he’d try an experiment.
“I called, ‘Patch!’ and he came!” Jonah said. “Then he started licking me all over. Then I called him and he knocked me over and was standing over me, licking me.”
Middleton shared the drama from his point of view.
“I was busy with the other kids, but I looked over at Jonah a minute later and this dog was standing up with its paws on Jonah’s chest, licking him and wagging his tail,” Middleton said. “Then they sort of fell on the ground and the dog just pounced on Jonah and went into a frenzy of delight. Jonah started calling out, ‘Patch, Patch!’ and praise the Lord, it was his dog that had disappeared in August!”
Because it was after hours and the shelter office wasn’t open, Middleton said when it was time to take the kids back to the church, they had to lock Patch back up in his cage and leave him at the shelter, which was tough.
When they got back to the church, Jonah found his sister Alyssa and told her the news.
“I told her, ‘I think I found Patch,’” he said. “And Alyssa started bawling.”
Sonja said when Jonah told her and Mike that he had found Patch, it was hard to believe.
“We were very skeptical,” she said.
“Sonya and I were very guarded,” Mike said. “We weren’t sure, because we hadn’t seen him. You’re kind of in disbelief.”
Early the next morning, after the three kids had gone to school, Mike and Sonya drove out to the animal shelter.
When they drove up, they could see the black dog in the pen, and they both were sure it was Patch.
One of the shelter workers opened the pen.
“He ran out and started licking us,” Mike said. “When they pulled him out, Sonya was crying and I was crying. So we re-adopted him. The shelter did a fantastic job of taking care of him.”
“He’s a wonderful dog, very protective, very good-natured,” Mike said. “He fit right back into our family. It’s amazing. Even Bayou has taken to him. They don’t fight or anything.”
Patch got lost on Aug. 20. According to Diane Ferguson, Ozark Humane Society public relations director, Harrison Animal Control picked him up at some point after that and held him as long as they could, then turned him over to the Humane Society sometime in late September.
“He had a flea allergy, so he was missing hair on his back, and he was bedraggled when he got here,” Ferguson said.
Humane Society Board member Linda Daniel said, “We had Patch neutered while he was in our care, which should eliminate the need to roam.”
And here’s something that makes Patch’s reunion with his family seem like it was orchestrated by from Above: At one point while he was at the shelter, an out-of-state family chose Patch to adopt. The shelter staff moved Patch to a cage in the front office, so that he could get used to being around people, and so they observe the way he reacted to other dogs and cats.
“Everybody loved him at the shelter,” Daniel said.
The adoption ended up falling through, but the fact that Patch was still in a cage in the front, where Jonah was able to spot him right away, played a role in his being reunited with his family.
Most animal shelters would not keep a dog for six months — if it wasn’t adopted after a certain length of time, the homeless dog would be put down. But the Ozark Humane Society does its best not to euthanize animals, except in cases of serious illness.
According to Linda Daniel, the shelter has only put down four dogs since December, 2007, and all four of those were in January 2008.
One more miracle working in Patch’s favor.
• • •
What did the Galloway children learn from their experience with their prayers being answered, by their lost dog being returned to them after so many long months?
Jonah said, “Never give up.”
Alyssa said, “Always trust God.”
Noah said, “Always keep faith.”
The only member of the Galloway family who’s not overjoyed to have Patch back home is Taz, the cat.
“The kitty’s reaction has been kind of funny,” Sonya said. “They never saw eye-to-eye, and when Patch got lost, Taz became the only animal in the house.”
The cat kind of liked being the head of the household, but soon made a grudging friendship with the newcomer beagle, Bayou. He was not thrilled, however, when the prodigal son, Patch, came home.
“Taz definitely doesn’t like having Patch back,” Sonya said.
Everyone involved in Patch’s homecoming seems to have been moved by the experience.
“This has been such a blessing,” said Kim Rosson, director of Children and Preschool Ministries at First Baptist Church. “It’s meant so much to all the kids. Every one of them has been touched by this. They realized God blesses you, no matter what you do in service.”
She said the Galloways were helping others, and “I felt like the Lord rewarded them for serving others.”
Jeff Middleton agrees.
“This boy’s faithfulness and compassion paid off,” he said.