Every now and then I come across a story that pulls at my heartstrings. That was the case the other day when I was talking on the telephone to a friend, Rosemarie, and her husband, Mark, who live northwest of Columbia, Mo.
I first met Rosemarie 20-years ago at the Missouri Photo Workshop. The workshop brings together photographers of all skill levels to a different small Missouri town each year where they work with editors from the National Geographic and major newspapers to hone their camera skills. That year the workshop was in Louisiana, Mo., south of Hannibal.
Rosemarie and Mark raise sheep, turkeys, and chickens and they also raise and sell livestock guardian dogs on their farm. The dogs are used to watch over and care for livestock such as sheep and goats.
A couple years ago, there was one particular female puppy that was outstanding. In raising these animals, Rosemarie said she puts a dab of different colors of paint on each puppy. The purpose is both to keep track of each pup’s personality, and to see whether they might become a trustworthy guardian dog or simply a companion.
This outstanding puppy was painted with a dab of turquoise paint, and appropriately named “Turquoise.” Rosemarie became quite fond of the puppy, and decided to keep her for breeding.
When the litter of pups were 12 weeks old, Rosemarie received a phone call from a family who lived two hours away who said they were on the way to purchase a puppy and were only 10-minutes from their farm.
“I like to interview the families first to see if they would be a good fit for one of my pups,” Rosemarie recalled. “That wouldn’t be the case in this situation.”
The family showed up and the mother, her two young boys and a girl about age 15 got out of the vehicle. The man stayed in the vehicle and told Rosemarie he didn’t care what they got, he “just wanted somethin’ to keep the ‘coons outta the yard.”
The children looked at all the pups and the girl pointed to Turquoise. “I want that puppy,” she said.
“She’s not for sale,” replied Rosemarie.
“I don’t care, I want that puppy,” the young girl said.
“I don’t know what caused me to have a moment of weakness, but I sold Turquoise to them,” said Rosemarie. “ She told them that if the puppy didn’t work out, to give her a call and she’d come get her.
Rosemarie, who adores all of her animals, said she didn’t have a good feeling about selling Turquoise to this family, but Mark insisted since their dog food bill was quite large with feeding 10 hungry pups plus their own guardian dogs.
“I really regretted the decision I’d made, and often with tears I prayed for Turquoise and wondered about her new probably very difficult life.
“I tried to contact the mom to check on Turquoise, but she gave no feedback except to say they had named the pup “Whiskey.”
Just nine months later, when Turquoise was almost a year old, out of the blue Rosemarie received a text message that read, “We don’t want this dog! My kids don’t like her and she’s causing trouble. If you don’t want her back I’ll do something else with her.” Rosemarie commented that she shuttered to think what “something else” might be.
She replied to the text message that she would meet the mom that afternoon to retrieve the dog, and she and Mark happily headed to Columbia to do so.
As they met the family and opened the cage door, Turquoise pulled away and peed all over herself. She looked rough, and had obviously been abused.
“I was sick and determined then and there that Turquoise would never again leave our farm,” said Rosemarie.
She’d received no additional veterinary checkups and at nearly a year old had not even had her rabies shot. Several weeks after Turquoise’s homecoming, when she’d had veterinary care and had begun to heal and trust again, a friend from the Kansas City area called. She and her husband had an organic dairy farm and also raised turkeys.
The friend was asking if Rosemarie might have an older puppy that she could give her parents in Illinois. Her mother had ovarian cancer and wasn’t expected to live much longer—leaving her father alone to grieve. She wanted a dog that could help her dad during this time and be a companion for him when her mom passed away.
Mark and Rosemarie knew they took good care of the current guardian dog they had. The friend said she would promise that Turquoise would be well cared for and deeply cherished if allowed to become her father’s companion.
“I wasn’t planning to sell her, but I felt that this was where Turquoise needed to go,” she said.
Rosemarie said that shy though Turquoise was, when the friend came for the dog, Turquoise jumped in her car and off they went— as it was meant to be.
“I knew I had done the right thing,” recalled Rosemarie. “God had worked it all out.”
The friend took Turquoise to Illinois to meet her new family. As her mother was still living at the time she was able to meet Turquoise and told the daughter that remarkably it is the turquoise-colored ribbon that represents ovarian cancer.
This was truly a match made in Heaven. In a recent checkup the dog, who is now named “Bella,” has become a wonderful companion for this man after the passing of his wife.
Rosemarie recently received a photo of the two sitting next to each other—each with their own dinner plate watching TV together.
A happy ending for Turquoise and all involved.
We all make choices and decisions in life and sometimes, like in the case of Turquoise, they don’t work out at first. But God is ever faithful and has the ability to turn what was meant for harm into something good in the end.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.