A labor of love adorns the wall just next to the door of the dog room, and I can't believe I'm viewing it in person. When a parcel hold notice from the postal service was left on the door Friday I thought nothing of it. There has been a steady supply of packages arriving here over the past month after all: dog books, treats, collars - all of them for review. I've grown accustomed to receiving unexpected items, so another notice from the USPS is not something that would normally get my attention.
This time, I happened to notice who the sender was. Dim as I may be, a faint light bulb managed to illuminate the dark recesses of my noggin. I contained my excitement in order to avoid tipping my hat to Mrs. Author. We left the house Saturday morning to run errands, one of which was getting a package shipped out to a recent Life With Dogs contest winner. Perfect timing. I managed to sneak this new arrival in to the trunk of the car undetected. The rest of the day was spent hiding my desire to run back to the car and rip the box open while we completed such exciting tasks as dropping off movie rentals, gassing up the car, and the always enjoyable trip to the grocery store.
You'd think Mrs. Author would have caught on when she noticed that we were rocketing home from the grocery store at eighty-five miles per hour. Considering that the trip takes about fifteen minutes at legal speeds, you would have thought I had a trunk full of lobsters to haul a hundred miles on a ninety degree day by the blur of our silver sedan snaking through the mountains at breakneck speed. I heeded her request to let off the gas a little. I was like a kid on Christmas morning.
Once the dogs had greeted us and the car was unloaded, I smiled and put the box on the table. The shape gave it away. Between the two of us, I think it may have taken twenty seconds to unwrap the package and find our way to something we have both been admiring nonstop for days.
Were we blown away? Beyond description. Kathleen Coy was so sweet and selfless to offer to paint our boy, and to sell the painting online in order to raise funds for A Place to Bark. We had contacted her in order to be certain that we could acquire a print. She'd assured us that prints would be available after the auction, so we watched eBay with baited breath. When the auction closed I contacted her again and was told that we could work out print arrangements after the approaching holiday weekend. I thought nothing more of it until that little yellow note found its way into my hands Friday.
How did this wonderful, beautifully crafted work of art find its way to us? That's the other truly touching part of this story. Enclosed in the package was a letter, one that we'll never forget.
(you'll want to click on this pic to make it legible)
More than twenty people had formulated a plan to win the auction and send the painting to us. For now I've maintained their privacy (I've not had time to contact all for their permission to disclose their identities) but we cannot thank them enough. It was a gesture of kindness and generosity that we'll never forget. Every time I pass that painting I grin - and not just because these wonderful people went out of their way to do this for us. It is what I learned after we had hung the painting that nearly reduced me to tears.
The Friends of Buggers Society (can you imagine what that secret decoder ring looks like?) had pooled their resources to buy the painting. Once the auction ended there was a pile of money left over, and rather than reclaim unspent dollars, the group decided to donate the remaining money (another two hundred dollars) to A Place to Bark in our names.
It's impossible to convey our heartfelt thanks adequately. In time, all will come to know how grateful we are as we find our way to each of them to offer our gratitude. Of course, we are thrilled to have this work in our home. Kathleen did such a good job that I can see no deviation from the picture I provided as the basis for the painting. It's simply perfect.
As much as it will thrill me to see this every day, it is the story behind the painting that will stay with me each time I pass it. These great people, their generosity, and the animals who benefited from this collective act of kindness stare back at me from a square of wood, stretched canvas and oil that will never leave this home. Our hearts are warmed by each brush stroke, every gesture made by those involved, and today we may say with certainty that we know who our friends are.
They are dog lovers.