Sprite, a 2-year-old pure-mutt shepherd mix, loved travel. She traveled happily with Josh, her twenty-seven-year-old human wherever and whenever he chose to go – and Josh chose to globe trot often.
Seeing the brown pure-mutt shepherd mix for the first time, people often asked, “Why do you call her Sprite? She’s kind of big for a sprite, isn’t she?”
“True, but she’s got the spirit and magical powers of those little creatures,” Josh would answer. Then he would grin and add, “Obviously, she isn’t elfish small like a sprite. She really does seem to hold sprite powers, though, and if they aren’t fully magical, they’re nearly magical.”
That often got skeptical looks, but Josh didn’t care, and neither did Sprite.
Sprite didn’t care about anything except being with Josh. The two were inseparable until…
SPRITE WENT MISSING
A late summer chill made Josh hurry as he and Sprite arrived at Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana. He handed the pure-mutt shepherd’s leash to airport staff, rubbed Sprite’s wet, black nose, patted her brown head, and told her to be a good girl.
Sprite knew the drill by heart. She curled up in the crate waiting to be loaded on the Alaska Airlines flight for Nome, Alaska. The staff carefully secured her crate and left her alone. Josh checked on her after he went through security, and she was still secure in the crate.
Then she wasn’t. A mere ten minutes after he checked, someone rushed to the airport office to report that the crate was empty. Sprite had gone missing.
“What?!” Josh exclaimed when they told him. “Where’s the crate? In the cargo hold? In the airport? On the tarmac? I’m going to find her. Hold the plane!”
“I’m sorry,” a flight attendant said. “I have to ask you to board, sir. Airport staff will locate your dog and put her on the next flight. You can see her during the layover in Seattle.” He reached for Josh’s boarding pass, and motioned toward the gate.
Josh boarded reluctantly, found his seat, and pressed his face against the window. His eyes scanned the edges of the airstrip. When flight attendants requested fastening of seatbelts, he did so automatically, eyes still fastened on the black tarmac. The plane left the gate, and taxied to the end of the runway. Josh’s frantic eyes covered every visible inch, but he saw not one hair of his beloved mutt. He might never again see one of those brown hairs. He might never again explore with globetrotting Sprite at his side.
Leaving without Sprite only reminded him of how he had anticipated the caribou migration and her excitement at seeing the creatures. He himself had gotten excited when he planned the adventure, and Sprite had shared that excitement. She’d gazed at him with shining brown eyes, brown tail wiggling as though she knew and loved every word he said. In rational moments, Josh knew she didn’t understand that many words, but alone in the plane, he began to wonder.
His 6:05 a.m. flight to Seattle lasted only a half hour, but Josh expected fully that Sprite would follow aboard the next flight. Their connection to Anchorage, Alaska wasn’t until 11:20 p.m., so even if Sprite didn’t make the 6:30 a.m. flight, she’d easily reach Seattle in time.
Rushing to the airport office, he asked if the Montana airport had found his dog. The attendant shook his head, said the search was ongoing, and turned back to his computer.
Josh had just reached the food court, found an empty booth, and saved a seat for his absent friend, when a KIRO-7 TV crew arrived. Barely introducing herself, the reporter began interviewing the pet lover about Sprite’s disappearance.
“I know we all love our pets,” she said brightly. “What are you thinking right now since your dog went missing in Montana?”
Josh frowned. “All I can think about is rescuing Sprite. This is a horrible ordeal. It’s a nightmare,” he said. “I don’t know whether to go on to Nome or back to Montana. I can’t cancel reservations and lose my money — but I can’t afford to lose Sprite either. I’ve got to rescue Sprite!” He ducked his head toward the table.
“Rescuing Sprite – a moving story that any pet lover will identify with,” the reporter said to the camera. She turned off her mic, thanked Josh, and hurried off to her next assignment.
Josh stared at the backs of the reporter and her cameraman. That was it? She gave no more than 30 seconds to empathize with a pet lover. Maybe the Montana airport staff felt that way. Maybe they gave only 30 seconds to look for Sprite. Suppose nobody was looking for Sprite!
Josh wanted to shout after her, “What would you do if Sprite was a purebred show dog instead of a mutt? Would you give us a whole minute? Would the airport staff use drones to monitor the airfield? Would Alaska Air work with the airport in rescuing Sprite?”
It would do no good, he knew. “Rescuing Sprite might prove to be a moving story that any pet lover will identify with,” he muttered to himself,” but rescuing Sprite is my job. I just wish I’d gotten a microchip for her.”
He checked the time, and made a tough decision. He’d wait until they announced boarding of the 11:20 a.m. Anchorage flight. If Sprite hadn’t arrived by then, he’d sacrifice his trip and return to the Glacier Park airport to search. He set his cell phone for 11 o’clock.
Time crawled slowly to 11 o’clock. Josh returned to the airport office, knowing the answer before he asked. Sprite had not arrived. He cancelled his flight to Anchorage and the connecting flight to Nome. The rare adventure of seeing the caribou migration had to wait. Josh caught the next flight back to Montana to rescue Sprite. He dared not think rescue could not happen.
Airport staff had searched every inch of the airfield and buildings. Nearby businesses, too, had joined the search. Customers and late-season tourists were searching. Rescuing Sprite had proven to be a very moving story, and pet lovers did indeed identify with it. Sadly, the money hungry also identified with it – and would search if Josh offered a reward.
Josh could not afford reward money, but spent the next week searching roads, streets, and trails. Try as he might, he could not avoid the thought of nearby grizzly bears, but he rejected it and redoubled his efforts.
On the sixth day, he got a call from a veterinarian near Flathead Lake – 25 miles from the airport. A woman found his heroic little dog curled up beside a road giving warmth and protection to six tiny black kittens. The woman coaxed Sprite into her car, placed the kittens on the seat beside her, and took all seven to the veterinarian.
A half hour later, Josh parked his rental car, flung open the vet’s office door, and called out, “Sprite!”
Excited barking erupted from a nearby room. Ecstatic whines interjected impatience. All the vet had to do was open the door.
Sprite burst into the room, flung herself on Josh, and kissed him repeatedly, talking excitedly the whole time.
“It’s time you got a microchip, Sprite,” Josh said, and buried his face in Sprite’s brown hair.
Rescuing Sprite is a moving story that any pet lover will identify with, but it is not the only one. You and I have opportunities to rescue many animals, if we will. Mark, the featured artist at the website of Psyche Cremation Jewelry, decided to help – and launched a New Animal Rescue Donation Program. Why not check into it and see how you can help?
Â© 2019, Anna Hart. The author invites you to learn more at http://www.bettilousblog.com about your life’s journey, including how you can enrich your life through an animal rescue program. Rich with ideas that can change an unfulfilling life into a stimulating, successful life, Bettilou’s Blog helps you leave the beaten track and dive into the woods of roads less traveled.
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