It all happened so quickly. It sounds cliché, but life can change in an instant. It was a dark and icy night. I was driving. And then I wasn’t. I had both hands clutching the steering wheel and traveling at a responsible speed. But that ice-covered curvy country road proved too much for my little car that wintry night. As I went careening off the road and into the ditch I couldn’t even begin to tell you what was going through my mind other than a bit of resolve that I had no control of the situation and a healthy dose of panic.
I had collided with a telephone pole and at some point my airbags had gone off. I don’t remember that happening — again, it all happened so quickly. After a few moments as the landscape was suddenly at a new angle out of my front windshield I tried to collect my thoughts to devise a plan of action. My driver’s side door wouldn’t budge — the telephone pole that I had hit ensured that. I saw a few pairs of headlights go by — and as I started crawling out the passenger side someone finally stopped to help.
The Good Samaritans who stopped had called the sheriff’s department for me and stayed with me until they showed up. Long story short — living in this part of the country, you’re always sure to come across someone you know. It turns out that these two do-gooders were clients of mine and they actually had an appointment for me to spay their cat in two days’ time.
As a veterinarian, I am blessed to get to see a lot of people and pets during my day. And as much as I would love to say that I have a photographic memory for every single one of the pets and people that touch my life — I am only human. I don’t always connect people with their pets especially outside of the office. But the Good Samaritans’ cat was a memorable one.
I first met Barney, the girl kitten, when she was a tiny mite of a thing. She was a few ounces short of a pound and had been rejected by her mother. She had every type of parasite you could think of, an upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis and an awfully long road ahead of her if she was going make it to adulthood. Her owners took this information with aplomb and set about following my instructions to the letter.
It’s generally a well-known fact that God makes a lot of kittens for a reason. Many of them do not make it to adulthood — especially if they are facing the infections and parasites that Barney had to battle. Their tiny bodies and developing immune systems often can not handle these afflictions. When kittens are as young and sick as Barney was when I first met her, it often doesn’t end well no matter the best of our intentions.
I can safely say Barney would likely never have made it if it weren’t for Damien. Damien is the young man who had taken it upon himself to care for the tiny little creature. He hand fed her and gave her all of the medicine and treatments as directed. With every successive office visit I remember being completely impressed with her medical progress and Damien’s ability to care for her.
Barney is happy and healthy now and a feisty little thing. Damien is also the young man who had helped me out in my hour of need. He gave up his seat in the warm van on the side of the icy road while we waited for the sheriff. The same young man had also worked diligently to save a tiny kitten.
I walked away from that accident, and I know that I am incredibly blessed. It could have ended a lot worse. For someone whose daily job is to help those creatures who can’t always help themselves, it is extremely humbling and uplifting to meet so many truly good people like Damien who are willing to put forth incredible effort for one so helpless — and to know that I have guardian angels like him looking out for me as well.