THE GENTLE GIANT
by Kathleene S. Baker

    Beth parked her car to find she was the first arrival for three
days of quilting, eating, non-stop chatter, and nights with little sleep.
    Her quilt group holds several retreats annually in rural Texas
where an older home has been renovated for such events and sleeps
more than a dozen.  Long tables accommodate portable sewing machines,
fabric and patterns.  The women return home revived from their holiday,
yet dog-tired from so much fun!
    As Beth stepped out of her car, an enormous white dog came around
her vehicle, rose up on its hind feet, and planted muddy front paws
squarely on each of her shoulders.  A tall woman, standing five feet
and ten inches, Beth was staring straight into eyes so gentle she didn't
even panic at the size of the animal.
    Speaking softly, she stepped back slightly and the dog returned
his front feet to the ground... although he stuck by her side on each
trip to unload her car.  He seemed determined to keep her in his sights.
     When the other members arrived, they were greeted by Beth and the
     dog determined to be her best friend.  The obviously neglected
     Great Pyrenees delighted being the center of attention.  One could
     not tell how terribly underweight he was until their hands dug
     through his long, matted, filthy coat to find a spine and ribs
     covered with only flesh.
    A shopping list was quickly scribbled down -- food, treats, shampoo,
comb, brush, bed, collar and leash.  Money was yanked from handbags and
a quick trip was made to town.
    Luckily it was a warm day.  After devouring a nutritious meal and
consuming a bowl of clean water, Beth, Carol, and Gina -- three of my
closest friends -- began the time-consuming task of bathing the pitiful
creature.  Their only option was a garden hose which meant no warm water,
but not once did he pull away nor did he growl.  He seemed to bask in
the kindness of those who had come to his aid. Still far from white,
"Dog's" behavior indicated he appreciated their efforts.
    The entire weekend Dog was well fed, slept on the screened-in
porch, and was smothered with the love he'd been deprived of for who
knows how long?  Possibly he'd never really been cared for properly. If
only he could talk it would most likely be a tale to shatter hearts!
    According to the retreat owner, he'd belonged to a woman living
down the road.  She had passed away months ago.  Her husband then moved
away, usually returning one day each weekend.  Perhaps he provided food
and fresh water one day a week?  And, perhaps not!  No one knew.
    When the retreat came to an end, Carol's Cadillac was the only
vehicle with a backseat large enough to transport the gentle giant back
to Plano.  The gals were unwavering.  They would find him a good home!
    Thankfully Gina had ridden with Carol.  She spent the entire trip
wrestling the big boy to keep him in the back seat for he truly wanted
to ride shotgun on Gina's lap!
    Beth had fallen in love at first sight, even with Dog's boisterous
introduction and huge muddy paws.  But, being a widow on a fixed income,
she was anxious about the costs that could be involved, especially if
he had heartworms or a life threatening condition.
    Dog spent the first night in Plano with another of the
quilters. Come morning, after a fitful, sleepless night with the needy
canine on her mind, Beth decided she must have him regardless of her
budget. For starters, she would forgo the new sewing machine she had
her eye on.  She would provide a forever home for the massive, yet
mellow fellow.
    As of now, with friends pitching in, Beth has money set aside
in a simple mason jar -- a trust fund for needs yet to come.  If need
be, we'll donate more for a magnificent canine who finally caught a
well-deserved break -- a loving home.  It seems Dog chose Beth from the
moment she stepped out of her car, as if a guardian angel was whispering,
"She's the one!  Don't let her out of your sight."
    Amazingly, the Great Pyrenees was negative for heartworm!  After two
weeks he's regaining strength and putting on weight.  Soon he'll have a
professional grooming to remove masses of matted hair.  The vet estimates
he is two years of age -- his pearly-white teeth reflect he's but a
youngster, and a fortunate one, indeed.
    Needless to say, most sewing machines sat idle that weekend as
the women fawned over and cared for a gentle giant.  I'd bet my Texas
boots he'll be designated official mascot of the group and attend each
and every retreat.
    Still to come is a wardrobe of neck scarves he will wear with pride,
made by a talented bunch of seamstresses!
    Here's wishing Beth and "Jake" many joyous years together as they
stitch an everlasting bond of love and devotion for one another.

                          -- Kathleene S. Baker <Lnstrlady at aol.com>

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