June 7th is a pretty important day for me because it’s the day that I gave birth to my little animal rescue copycat, my middle son, Paris. To think that day would mean more to me than just the significance of it being Paris’s birthday is just plain odd. It’s funny how fate intervenes and weaves its way into the tangled web of our lives. June 7 was the beginning of a miracle. This is the story of Chumley.
While I sat working away at my desk and celebrating the day of one special little boy, 25 minutes away from me, a short and stocky little bulldog lie against a fence along the Kansas Turnpike. The dog was found as a roadside maintenance worker was mowing. Bonner Springs Animal Control was called and they went out to pick him up. Immediately, they noticed that the dog was limping and appeared to have “road rash”, likely from a fall out of a vehicle on to the pavement. How he got there was a mystery. Was he thrown from a car? Did he fall out of a car? What happened?
The sweet fella sat at Bonner Animal Control patiently waiting for something to happen and he didn’t quite understand why he was there. Each night, he would lay in his cage wondering why he wasn’t curled up in a nice, warm bed and why he was utterly alone. The days passed slowly and time was running out but the dog never gave up hope and he never lost his smile.
Fast forward to June 12th, when I received an email from a fellow rescue volunteer who happens to be one of my personal heroes. Since I was on “hiatus” from rescue for awhile and was attempting to take a much needed “breather”, I was selecting emails and deleting them without opening. The world of rescue has been too much for me to bare lately and my life has become a mess since I’ve remained solely focused on dogs and “kill lists”. The important things in life started passing me by and I had to take a minute to clear my mind. Before I deleted that email, something told me to open it, so I did. Immediately, I was compelled to help and I was in 100%. The email talked of a dog that was at a local shelter and it was microchipped but all of the information was outdated. If the owners weren’t found and claimed the dog by the next day, he would be put to sleep. My friend was asking me for help in locating the owner before time was out. I set aside everything I had going on and I started to search. I had a name, address and 2 disconnected phone numbers, all from Mississippi.
I investigate people for a living, so things like this come fairly easy to me. I spent much of the morning/afternoon searching and eventually, I found a phone number for someone with a matching name located in a nearby city. After all of the numbers and dead ends, I finally found something!! When I got the voicemail it said “Hey, it’s Ricky” which confirmed that I had the right person (or at least I thought so). I began calling the number, over and over again, sometimes only waiting 15 minutes before trying again. I left message after message. While I was waiting for a call back, I searched Facebook and found them on there, too. Sadly, it didn’t appear that the owners had used it in quite some time, so I sent messages on Facebook to them and their children and a few friends. Yes, I probably went too far but how could I not!
Later that day, I finally received a call back from Ricky. When I said, “Do you know a dog named Chumley and is he lost?” the man replied, “This is a really cruel joke”. I tried to make him understand that it wasn’t a joke and I explained that a dog with a microchip was located in Bonner Springs, Kansas and that I believe it was their dog. Ricky told me there was no way it was his dad’s dog because he went missing in February from Colorado. I asked for him to describe the dog and everything except for the collar matched. Astonished, the man explained Chumley’s story and how he was a dog adopted from a shelter in Mississippi by his parents and how they had relocated from Mississippi to Colorado. Many phone calls later, we had reached Ricky’s dad and arrangements were made to get Chumley sprung from the shelter while he waited for his ride home. Chumley was transferred to Bonner Animal Rescue who then transferred him to Midwest Animal ResQ who would hold him until we could secure transport back to Colorado.
On June 13th, the day Chumley could have been euthanized, he was picked up by my friend Kris and he was driven from Bonner Springs to my family’s diesel shop in North Kansas City. I arrived there just in time to meet Chumley for the very first time. The moment my eyes saw that little English Bulldog, I fell in love. Chumley had the biggest smile on his face and he radiated love and joy and it was impossible to not be excited and happy in his presence. Chums spent the next few hours running the shop right alongside a 215 pound English Mastiff and an over-sized Pug. He loved all of the extra attention he got from all of the workers and my family but I think they loved it even more than him. He stole everyone’s hearts and offers to drive him straight to Colorado appeared from everywhere.
When I got off from work that day, I headed back down to the shop to pick up Chumley and then him and I were off for our interview with Fox 4 news. You can read all about that nonsense on one of my previous blog posts. If you haven’t read it, I know it will make your day. Anyway, after the interview we headed to Lake Lotawana and Midwest Animal ResQ, which is run by my pal Erin Morse. Erin had agreed to foster Chums while we waited for transport to Colorado.
On Wednesday, June 20th, more exciting things happened for Chumley. We were reunited bright and early that morning in anticipation of what I hoped would be Chumley’s best day ever. Chum’s foster mom delivered him to Grandview, Missouri’s “Winding River Pet Village” where the days events included a nice LONG car ride back to Colorado for the little guy. It was great to see his wagging tail and happy smile. Still, after all of the change, you wouldn’t know it. Chumley was still the beaming boy he was before. We spent our last 30 minutes together, waiting for PetEx Rescue N Transport to get everything coordinated for him to head out of Kansas City and back home. I knew this short reunion would be so very hard but also one of my most rewarding things in rescue. Anxiously, I counted down the seconds until he was loaded up. I took every opportunity I could to snap pictures of Chums and I, Chums and the kids and just him.
When the time came, I leaned down with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat and I gently took his face in my hands and gave him a kiss and told him that I loved him. I pointed to the SUV and the kennel in the back and said, “Come on Chums, get in.”. He looked up at me and then over to the SUV and jumped in and right into his cage, without hesitation. I reached in and took his face in my hands again, still whispering undying love to the beautiful boy. After slipping off his lead and closing the door, I could feel the waterworks about to begin BIG time. I stood there at the back of the SUV, watching that little English Bulldog and the tears began to fall. Somewhere, I heard someone say, “Can we shut the door now?” and I realized that I was just standing there, right in the way. I nodded my head and stepped back as they closed the door. I did the best I could to hide the tears as they slid silently down my cheeks and past the protection that was my sunglasses. The bitter taste entered my mouth and I started to gasp, with sobs beginning to wrack my body. I lowered my head and began to walk away, my 2 boys at my side, consoling me.
I did my best to make it through the rest of the day but wondering what was happening really was getting to me. I wondered if his journey was safe, if he had made it home and if his owner’s showed up to greet C.A.R.E. transport when they arrived. So many questions…
The following day, I got all of my answers. At 6:30 pm, the previous day, Chumley was reunited with a tearful family who missed him. All I had of the reunion was photos that the Huffington Post had taken when he arrived. I held myself together until I saw the one photo that made my heart soar, a photo of Chumley’s dad kneeled down, with Chumley in between his legs. Chumley’s head was turned up and he was planting a big wet kiss on his dad’s chin. Immediately, I broke down all over again.
When you think that you can’t make an impact and you question what you’re supposed to do in life, it’s nice when you get those reminders of your purpose. Tonight a family that was broken is now back together. A little Bulldog will sit on his owner’s lap and fall asleep, filled with love and excitement for the next day. I know in my heart that this special dog that brought people together will be even more cherished by his family now.
I still cry when I think of them together and I am so honored to have played a small part in his reunion. This story is in honor of Chumley and his dad, Rick. It’s also dedicated to all of the people who helped make this all possible.
- Jenna Hammond
- Bonner Animal Rescue
- Katie Knapp
- Kris Woodard
- Larry’s Northtown Garage
- Erin Morse
- Midwest Animal ResQ
- PetEx Rescue N Transport
- Stacy Reeves
- C.A.R.E. transport
- Linda with C.A.R.E.
- Huffington Post (this link will lead you to Chumley’s reunion story on Huffington Post)
- Fox 4 news (this link will lead you to Chumley’s interview)
This blog post contains “active” links to key members in Chumley’s story. Follow the links and take a peek at the great people and organizations involved in Chumley’s story. Donations to any of the organizations are not only encouraged but also greatly needed so we can continue to make these stories possible.
Please microchip your pets and make sure the information is always current. Make sure your dog is always wearing a collar with identification and licenses. On the ID, provide your pet’s name on the front and on the back, your address, 2 phone numbers and an email address. You can get a tag made with all of this information at PetSmart for about $8.