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The Best Christmas Gift Ever

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The Best Christmas Gift Ever

A Message of Trust
Carmen  Harra
Carmen Harra More by this author
Dec 14, 2015 at 09:15 AM

One December, my daughter and I were relocating from New York to Florida. Perhaps our biggest moving dilemma was how to transfer our three cats and two dogs from one state to the other. I took one cat to Florida via airplane, but that didn’t resolve our problem in the least. My daughter was left with the unfortunate duty of having to make the long journey with four animals in her SUV. The most unruly of the bunch was our dog Valentino, an uncannily stubborn Shiba Inu that resembled a fox and refused to take orders from any of us.

While they were stopped at a gas station in the rural town of Petersburg, Virginia, Valentino wrangled his head out of his collar and took off into a nearby forest. My daughter spent the next four hours searching for him in the snowy woods in the middle of the night. The next day, she arrived at our home in Florida crying and apologizing for having lost our beloved Valentino.

Although they were very helpful, neither the animal control nor police of Petersburg were able to locate the dog. For three days following the incident, I placed countless ads in the local newspapers and on radio shows. I felt that I needed to find him, and that I shouldn’t give up. Valentino was greatly adored by my late husband, and I was confident that his spirit would try to help us in our pursuit. I decided that the only way to get anything done was to go to the site of the incident myself, so I flew up to Virginia on Christmas.

The next two days were spent scouring the neighborhoods and woodland areas of Petersburg, posting flyers on seemingly every lamppost, and screaming “Valentino!” well into the midnight hours as I slowly drove down street after street in my rental car. Every person I approached told me something different: “I saw him ten miles east of here,” “He was walking around with a big black dog that way,” “He slept in my backyard last night.” I collapsed onto the bed in my motel room the second night and thought sadly, This is hopeless. What a horrible Christmas.

I’d already bought my ticket to return to Florida the following day, so there only remained the small, single, solitary hope that I might find Valentino in the morning before my flight back home. I fell asleep praying to the Divine for a miracle.

My husband came to me in a dream that very night, standing tall and handsome, wearing a brilliant white dress shirt and promising that I would find the dog. “Go toward the place where the dog was lost,” he told me. “Get in the car and pay attention to me; I will guide you.”

I woke up and hopped in the car at the break of dawn. I drove to the gas station where the dog had initially wandered off and parked. I began walking around the area, and then stopped a woman on her way to work.

“Oh, that was your dog?” she responded when asked if she’d spotted him. “Yes, I did, just ten minutes ago. He was sitting right up that way, and the police tried to shoot at him because they thought he was a fox!” she said as she pointed. I thanked the woman and started running in that direction.

Entering the forest, guided totally by pure instinct, I heard my husband say, “Keep going.” I made a sudden right and gazed down into a ditch . . . and there was Valentino, keeled over and covered up to his ears in mud, howling feebly for help. I practically tumbled down to him in excitement and hoisted him up in my arms. Had his body not been trembling from the bitter cold, I’m sure he would have jumped at me and licked my face for hours. If he could have spoken, he would have said “Thank you!” a thousand times, but he just stared up at me weakly as I carried him to safety. Truly, this was the best Christmas gift I could have hoped for.

On my way home, I pondered the synchronicities that occurred: Valentino was lost in Virginia and my husband’s name was Virgil—all three words begin with the letter V. Even more peculiar was the fact that Valentino ran away at 2 a.m. on the 22nd of the month, the exact hour and day my husband had passed away. Ultimately, I believe this was a message about trust: that even when it seems nearly impossible to reconnect with those we love, we must have patience and persevere.

 

 

About Author
Carmen  Harra
Best-selling author Carmen Harra, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and TV personality who has been featured on an array of national shows such as The View, Good Morning America, the Today show; and in publications such as The New Yo Continue reading