Twas a simple request in the midst of a busy, busy time.
"If you'll help me remember, I would love to do this," I said to my friend Chris who had asked a favor of my time and camera for Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Reminders came for the next few days, and as the day came all decked out in the most magnificent of natural winter beauty, I looked forward to the hour of honoring that simple request.
After all, it involved three things I love most in life: photography, animals and meeting people, not in any particular order.
As the hour neared, snow clouds parted, and bright blue skies emerged.
My drive to the Panhandle Animal Shelter was spectacular with brilliant sunshine enhancing the landscape blanketed with a fresh and abundant layer of snow.
My assignment involved "America's Veterinarian," Dr. Marty Becker, who, along with his family, was bringing gifts to the dogs and cats currently living at the shelter.
I had met Dr. Becker before at a book event but doubted he would remember me. After all, he has traveled about 300,000 miles this past year speaking at conventions and to groups about his "Fear Free Initiative." So, he meets a lot of people and animals.
Yesterday's, event involved Dr. Becker speaking briefly to a group of students and then going to individual living quarters to distribute Christmas toys to dogs and cats.
Besides giving the gifts, Marty and his wife Teresa, daughter Kel and son Lex spent time with each group of doggies and kitties bestowing upon them the most important of gifts: love.
For about an hour, I tagged along, taking photos and getting to know each Becker family member and several of the shelter pets.
I honestly don't know who was more impressed with the genuine Becker gene of total love for animals---the residents or me. I'm sure that dogs and cats will gladly attest to how their day was truly brightened by the Becker family visits.
Toward the end of our tour, I met a young lady from Newport who was visiting a foster, senior pet soon to be living in her home with the other dogs she has taken in.
I just want her to come and be comfortable and to be loved, the adoptive pet parent said quietly while gazing into the eyes of Molly who needs some dental work before she goes to her forever home in Newport.
As I drove home, anxious to take my own beloved doggies for a run in their field, I thought about the truly meaningful gifts we encounter in our day-to-day travels where the bottom line is calculated in caring, joy and love.
I witnessed this unfold with the Becker family who brought the material gifts along with the most vital gift of all: love.
I also thought about that Molly whose golden years will soon become a whole lot better when she goes to her new home.
And, once again, I felt so fortunate to have experienced this truly special Merry Christmas to the pets. It had been a very good day.
Thank you, Chris, for your request. Twas wonderful and definitely a gift for me.
'Tis the gift to be simple
'Tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight
--Lyrics from "Simple Gifts"