How to Make a Dog Into a Starfish


Every now and then, a little slice of a miracle makes its way into my life. Most often, that little slice of a miracle involves a dog. This year has been a very dog-loving, fundraising-filled, wigglebutt-inspired one for me, so it is with great affection and warm memories that I look back on 2013. I now also realize how to make a dog into a starfish of sorts.

Armed with a fist full of resolutions and time off with my family in the cards, I settled in for a semi-long winter’s rest. Fate had other plans, as I received an email that simply read:

I am a friend of Darlene Arden‘s, and she gave me your email. I have a friend who lost her Cocker Spaniel a while back, and her poor cat was just run over. She wants to rescue another Cocker Spaniel. She would love to rescue one  5 or under. Is that impossible?



My hands literally began to tremble.  Why yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes, I absolutely will do something.

Please don’t be someone who pulls a fast one on me. Please be real. Please don’t be using a fake name. Please don’t be a loose cannon. Please be exactly who and what you say you are. I try to get the word out and help Cockers in need as much as I can. I’ve seen more than one case of fruit loops: Please don’t be that person. Be normal. Be who you say you are.

These are the thoughts that raced over and over as I willy nilly did the first thing that popped into my mind: Took to Facebook and did a little background checking on the sender of the email.

Lucky strikes.

There chained to a leash as he gently ate from a bowl of food: a 2-year-old Cocker Spaniel in need of a home.


Withlightningspeed I wrote to “Linny,” (Linda Ackerman) explained who I was, crossed my T’s, dotted my I’s, and wanted to crawl through the computer monitor and clip that damned leash to which a Cocker Spaniel was tethered.

It turns out Lucky was a courtesy post. This means the small rescue that shared Lucky did so as a courtesy: She knew a dog needed a new home and so she put a call out to her Facebook friends of many Cocker lovers/parent.

Within 10 minutes of receiving the email about some lady wanting a Cocker Spaniel five years or younger, the picture of Lucky appeared on my Facebook feed.

My little angel, Dexter, inspires me so much.

So then all this within the next week or so:

I find out “Lucky” is about two hours from my town in Pennsylvania.

I connect with Marsha, who wants to adopt a Cocker in need of a forever home, Marsha says, “We are “on the hunt” for another wonderful cocker who needs a home. We are located close to  Boston. Would you know of any rescue groups in New England?”

I continue to connect with original email Ann, who tells me, “I am on pins and needles. This Lucky could get lucky. Marsha has grown children and all the time in the world to enjoy Lucky.”

Goosebumps continue to own my skin.

“Linny” takes it upon herself to do an assessment of Lucky, check out the gal who has him, and get the down low on what’s going on with this dog. She is about an hour or so from where Lucky resides.

Tears fill my eyes as I type this now, as they did when I first saw the picture of the little Cocker Spaniel on Facebook, and the several photos “Linny” sent me that solidified my desire to get this dog a new, forever home:




What they don’t need: 

* Transport help from me or anyone else for that matter.

* A snow and ice storm of epic proportions.

After many conversations, e-mail exchanges, knowing that this referral came from one of the most respected dog people in the world, Darlene Arden, means Lucky’s name would hold true. Marsha and her husband would adopt Lucky.

On December 14, 2013, a family drove from Boston to Pennsylvania to open their hearts and lives to a Cocker Spaniel in need.

Fa la la and happily ever after, right?

Um, no.

Ice, snow, and treacherous driving conditions tossed a curve ball in Lucky’s path. It is my experience that when someone says they are willing to relinquish a dog, you act. You don’t wait, you go, and you transport that dog to where he or she needs and deserves to be.

Lucky’s fate rested in the hands of Mother Nature.

I held my breath on Saturday night, December 14th. We had company visiting and despite our holiday festivities and fun, my mind wandered to Lucky and his fate, the weather, the parties involved, and well, what the hell would happen now?

Thank you, Ann for sharing with me, “I won’t steal Marsha’s thunder, but you need to know that Marsha and her wonderful husband Ted drove about 16 hours yesterday, in that horrid storm, to bring Lucky home.”

And blessings to Linny to wrote to tell me, “I’ve been doing rescue for 14 years…. And when I do a courtesy posting, I try to assist a bit, but it’s totally up to the owners.    I recommend a few things to assure he goes to the right home, and usually if local, will do an evaluation on the dog for temperament and personality, health issues, etc.” I hope this kindness comes back to you a thousand times over.

Warm hugs to Darlene Arden thought of me when a Cocker needed a home. I have the utmost respect for this woman and now it has only escalated.

Ann, for believing in your friend and leading her to my inbox, what more can I say: Your wings fluttered their way to my inbox.

Marsha, for opening your heart to Lucky and saying “yes,” you restore my faith in people.


It is during this season of blessings and giving back that I am grateful for a post on a Facebook feed, a belief that there are still caring people left in this world, and that there are miracles just waiting to happen: If only we are Lucky enough to embrace them.

Be happy, Lucky: You have given me the greatest gift of all: Hope.

Ohhh, P.S. If you aren’t convinced yet of the power of fate and timing or perhaps helping one dog’s life changed doesn’t seem like much, check this out:


“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
“It made a difference for that one.”
― Loren Eiseley






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    1. Amen to that, Jackie. Happy Howl-idays to you and your pack! I still have your latest book on my must read list – sitting here and on my 2014 must-do pile!

  1. Wonderful! You brought joy and happiness to Lucky….and his new family. And, everyone who reads this story. You all made a difference to more than just one “starfish” for sure. xo!

  2. Such a great story! So happy for Lucky and that you were able to help him out!! He is adorable and I’m so happy to hear he is going to such a great home! It is definitely a miracle and I wish that all the doggies and cats out there in shelters would get a forever home this Christmas and that there would be no more homeless pets! Thank you to all that helped give Lucky a home for Christmas!!!

  3. Brought tears to my eyes. Such a wonderful thing for Lucky and his family. He will be safe and warm for the holidays…just wish we could say the same for all the ‘starfish’ out there. Thanks for helping this little darling find a forever home.

  4. You made me cry all over again. Thank you for being there and for all that you do to help Cockers. Surely you are one of God’ Angels.

  5. This made me smile and I’ve been having a kinda rough week, beating myself up for not being ‘better’ and for being a procrastinator and for wishing I didn’t have 5 ‘fosters’ to find homes for myself…but you are right, you cannot hesitate when someone calls, you just say yes and hope it all falls into place. The 2 times I said I wasn’t in a position to take a cat back right then (one time was 1 week after my husband died)…I lost track of those cats and I swore I’d never hesitate again and I haven’t regretted it. May your holiday be just as special as you are!

    1. Teri, I am so grateful to call you my friend and all you do for the kitties. You are a special person and many hugs – love and lots of cheer and meows for 2014 and beyond!

  6. Way to go Carol !
    Sometime destiny just happens when it comes to adoptions. Its like the big dog in the sky knows that this dog needs this person and this person needs this dog and the only thing that is missing is the person who will help them find each other. That person this time was YOU. Brandy Noel is probably behind this , you know. She probably told that big dog in the sky “hey, my mom can do this.”
    Thank you!

  7. The stars were all aligned and God’s cocker angels on earth did his work! Bless you all. I love that the lucky pup’s name was Lucky and that you all took time out of your uber busy lives to make this happen . . . . but of course, I’m not surprised that you did. Love you, Carol!

  8. What a wonderful Christmas story! Good job carol, Linny and all the others who helped rescue this truly precious Cocker pup.

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