Recalling Fluffy’s Christmas Angel

Deborah Mitchell Contributing Columnist

January 30, 2014

This week, I saw on Facebook that one of my friends had lost her puppy, Georgie.

She sent out pictures of him, and her Facebook friends “shared” those pictures, widening the circle of people who could look for him. Fortunately, a kind person found Georgie and took him in for the night, returning him to his family in the morning.

I suffered along with my friend as she described how Georgie escaped his harness, and I felt her relief the next morning, because I remembered so clearly when our puppy — except she was a 15-year-old dog — wandered off, which she had not done since she had been a playful baby. It happened Dec. 27, 2010, and I was so traumatized that I wrote about it in my blog. The next year, I recalled in my blog the events that made me believe in Christmas miracles all over again. This is how it happened:

364 days ago, Henry Holtzclaw took on a nom de plume of sorts: Fluffy’s Christmas Angel. I remember clearly greeting our dinner guest and letting Fluffy out the back door at the same time. I then remember going upstairs to get Fluffy to take her for her 10 p.m. outside visit, only to find that she was not in her usual place, not in the chair, not snuggled down in her beach towel. She was gone. No one had let her in after our guest arrived!

Our backyard is surrounded by a tall hedge, and because she was old, generally confused, and nearly blind, she usually stayed close to the house for her regular constitutional. But she was not there. I remember Emily’s stark fear, our frantically searching the neighborhood until about 1 a.m., believing that she was somewhere we could not see, curled up in a little ball, going to sleep, wondering where she was and why we were not there to keep her safe.

As it turned out, all those things were happening, but not in our neighborhood. Fluffy, in her doggy-Alzheimer’s state, had wandered off to the neighbor’s house, thinking it was hers, puzzled, I’m sure, when no one let her in. Then she continued to wander until she stumbled down a drainage ditch, underground, safe from the snow that covered the ground, safe from the cold air that penetrated slowly to the bone, safe from predators that might have found a small white fluffy dog a delicacy. She wandered for about a mile, until I’m sure she was tired from wandering, lost, and confused, and then she curled up in a little ball, and went to sleep.

It was about this time that Fluffy’s Christmas Angel was walking his own dog and saw a little white fluffy ball curled up on a flat rock, off the water that ran through the drainage ditch, sleeping and waiting to cross the rainbow. He picked her up, took her home, fed her, gave her water, kept her warm overnight, and then, with special instructions that if no one claimed her, he was to bring her back, took her to the animal shelter. The shelter attendants thought she might be the white dog they heard was missing, and so on that Wednesday morning, about 36 hours after she eloped, they called us and told us they thought that Fluffy had been found.

Indeed, Fluffy had been found. Now, a year later, I remember feeling as if an angel appeared to me and said, “Fear not,” which is what Christmas should be about, anyway — a miracle on earth. Tonight, a few months after Fluffy took her last breath, rightfully in our arms, the arms of the people who were obliged to keep her safe for as long as they could, I remember Henry Holtzclaw, Fluffy’s Christmas Angel, and thank him, who would have loved her well had we not been found.

That Christmas, I discovered that angels can be found in unexpected places, and I am certainly grateful for the one sent to watch over Fluffy.

Author’s note: Resolution check: 1 book, 2 weekly yoga classes, 1 story, contact with friends, desk top visible, thankful for today, sending recipes to daughter at HER request!