Let’s have a quick recap of the story so far, in the exciting adventures of Tiny Tina. You may recall that our puppy heroine had been rescued from a flood with the rest of the puppies in her family. But unlike her brothers and sisters, who had been adopted by local community members, little Tina had not found a new home and so had come to live at Wags Dog Rescue Center with me. Tina had been born with some malformations in her face and didn’t look like the other pups as a result, she thought this was why no-one wanted her. She hoped she would have better fortunes at Wagz and so did I.
By now Tina had been living at Wagz for many months and in that time lots of people had come to find their perfect pet. Every day young couples, families with excited children and retired people came to the shelter and yet no one paused for very long by Tiny Tina’s enclosure. Once again it seemed that the way she looked was cruelly affecting her chances of enjoying the life she deserved.
There had been talk for some time about a new group coming to Wagz, to help with exercising and caring for the dogs. These were former service people who had suffered terribly during active service and were still living with the effects of their experiences. The group leader believed that spending time with animals and particularly dogs would be good for the group members. The first group had just started helping out at the center and it was all going very well, they were used to following routines and doing things to a very high standard so they were well suited to kennel work. The service people were encouraged to develop a special relationship with a dog they bonded with and each week they would spend one to one time with that dog. I had noticed that so far none of them had chosen Tina and that made me very sad for the little girl.
A new group arrived at the center the following week, in the group was one young man who stayed at the back of the group with the hood of his jacket pulled up. He didn’t seem like he wanted to be there at all, as he walked slowly, his head held low and his shoulders hunched. I thought that was unusual as most of the service people walked tall and some almost marched, striding with purpose and vigor, but not this young man.
He went about his duties but never really seemed to be enjoying himself, he didn’t talk to the other men and women and often on own. On the day that the group members were to choose their special dog, he hardly looked at the kennels as he went by. That was until he came to Tina’s enclosure, as usual the little sweetie scampered to the front to say hello. So pleased to have the attention and desperate to be chosen she danced with joy, it was then that something amazing happened. The young soldier sank to his knees by the young dogs kennel and he began to talk in a gentle voice. Tina responded warmly and in that moment a bond had formed between the little dog and the tall skinny young man. He stayed in the same position for a long time, talking to Tina before he reached for her leash and brought the excited young dog out for a walk.
They ran out on to the grass together and as the two of them played and wrestled the hood fell from the young man’s face and I saw his face for the first time. One side of his face looked normal and unharmed, but as he turned I saw that the left side of his young face had been badly burned and bore the signs of several surgeries. In that moment I realized just how strong the bond was going to be between these two soul mates and I was very happy. For our Tiny Tina had found a very special person to care for her and that hurting young soldier, well he had found a friend for life. A friend who would never see him as anything other than perfect, who would shower him with unconditional love and always be there for him.
The group leader had been quietly watching this exchange between man and dog and as the war hardened officer walked away he quickly wiped his eyes. I clearly wasn’t the only one who was overjoyed that these two had found each other.
In the concluding episode of the story we find out what happened next for these two wounded warriors, as they face the world and do something truly life changing together.
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