Maggie was reunited with her family last week. Pictured above with their beloved dog, from left, are: Cal, Coy, Chet and Clay Butterworth, sons of Mark and Sabre Butterworth. [Times Photo by Lisa Schlichtman]
|After receiving no bites on my article about Summer that ran in both the Cassville Democrat and The Monett Times, I reluctantly ran an ad about her on craigslist in both the Fayetteville and Springfield pet sections. Within an hour, my inbox was full of potential adoptive families.|
|I read each ad carefully, and immediately dismissed some as being too suspicious. Josie helped me compare the remaining ads for both legitimacy and sincerity, and we both agreed there was only one ad that seemed to fit both categories.|
|After a flurry of e-mails and phone calls, Dan and his family drove in to check out the dog. We waited nervously for their arrival. Now I know how surrogate mothers feel.|
|Dan, his wife and their children -- 8 and 2 -- were perfect. They had previously owned a black lab and had only recently decided it was time to get another dog. We loaded Summer, her food, treats and all her toys into the Dan & Family Traveling Van, shook hands and watched Summer drive off into the sunset.|
|It was the perfect Hollywood ending. Almost.|
|Three days later on Thursday, July 8 -- 17 days after we first found Summer -- Josie and I returned from a romantic meal at Sonic to find a handwritten note in the front screen door. It said simply, "You found my dog. Please call, Mark."|
|Talk about mixed emotions. Simultaneously, I saw the frantic owner and family who had finally located their pet, and Dan's tribe who had joyously taken in a new addition to their family. Only one thing to do.|
|I called Dan first to make him aware of the situation. I wanted to give him a heads up, so he could prepare his children. As expected, he was very understanding and stressed "We want to do the right thing."|
|I thanked him and then called Mark. He wasn't there, but his wife, Sabre, answered the phone. I identified myself and told her why I was calling. I had all these Perry Mason-like questions scribbled out to ask Sabre and Mark to satisfy myself that they were the rightful owners.|
|She was almost in tears as she described her family exactly as I would have pictured them: Mom, Dad and four little boys, Cal, Coy, Clay and Chet, heartbroken over the loss of their dog. She described Summer to a "T," and added, "If there is any question about identification, she has a chip."|
|Dummy me. The idea of a chip had never occurred to me, even though it was obvious this was a valuable animal we were dealing with.|
|But Mark's chance visit to his favorite barbershop where he saw my sports editorial, "The best dogs are free" in The Monett Times offset my other failures in helping Summer find her way home.|
|To make a long story short: Maggie -- Summer's real name -- has gone home to the loving family she never forgot. A purebred hunter whose favorite activity was playing with her boys in the creek, she was already a very special dog. Now she is a dog who is very special to three families.|
She finally got the Hollywood ending she deserved.
To Lee: Thank God for kind people. From, The Butterworth family.