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A bittersweet story of lost & found

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Editor’s Note: Linda Webster approached me two weeks ago inquiring of my interest in a news tip. She completed this story on Friday, Aug. 31. On the following day, Linda and her sister, Thelma Tingle Gray, were fatally injured in a traffic accident in Henderson County, Tenn. We extend our deepest condolences to the family.

By Linda Tingle Webster

Special to The Trimble Banner

Traci Goble was fortunate to purchase a puppy unseen from a friend who’s dog had a litter of puppies, being too young to remove from the mother, Traci had to wait until the puppy was old enough to be separated. He was a “mixed” breed part Labrador and part Rottweiler. As the puppy grew it was easy to tell it was going to be a large dog, and Traci having a small back yard would have to confine him mostly to the house. This distressed her since the dog would not have a place to be able to run play.

Traci decided in tears it would be best for Leonidas to offer him up for adoption to a good and loving family, and subsequently found what appeared to be that type of environment, lots of room to run and get plenty of exercise.

Time passes as it usually does, until one day Traci learned from friends that Leonidas was seen running loose around the elementary school at Milton, and after further investigation learned that the family, who lived close, had moved away. Leonidas had, to Traci, become homeless.

Traci began the search for the lost dog, walking neighborhoods, even small streams, and some woods looking for the homeless animal. This was not producing any results in her search so she decided to post flyers about the neighborhoods, and schools, even churches. Traci handed out flyers to anyone and everyone who would take a copy, asking the people to call her if he was seen.

An unbelievable amount of people was watching for Leonidas, but no leads came. One day, relatives were combing the area he was last seen and were able to learn that he had been seen at a house close to the elementary school where there had lived children. After checking the house several times Leonidas was not to be seen, and it was learned that the family who lived there had moved to the Bedford area.

Traci in her quest, decided to put an ad in The Trimble Banner. Days passed, and one day Traci received a phone call about Leonidas from a lady stating she had Traci’s dog, and he had been re-named Red. Leonidas had a very unusual color, which would be best described as a “rusty red” color. At first the lady was reluctant to allow Traci to learn her name or address, as most people these days should do and make a common practice. After communicating several times it was agreed they would meet at the park in Bedford, and Leonidas, now Red, would be brought for the much sought after reunion.

Finally the day came of the reunion, all were present Traci, with her mother waited patiently. Upon arrival, Leonidas, (Red), exited the lady’s vehicle, it was a sight to behold. As soon as Leonidas saw Traci, he ran right up to her, and licked her face, it was as though he was saying “where have you been all this time?” Traci, and Leonidas played for quite a while, and finally after settling down Traci was able to learn from the new owner that she had found him approximately a year earlier wondering around the Milton Elementary School. She had taken him home where Red instantly became a favorite of the lady’s children, and family, and where they were able to give him the room he needed in which to run and play.

The now new owner of “Red” stated she could tell he had been abused, because whenever her husband was there, Red seemed afraid of him. Red was very reluctant to go around him for quite a while, a situation which eventually changed to friendliness.

During the conversation with the new owner, Traci was able to learn that the lady was afraid that Traci was going to re-claim Red and take him away from the children, the family that had fallen in love with him and he in return. This was not the case. Having seen that Red was very well taken care of and loved by the family, it became apparent that this was the goal Traci was attempting to achieve all along. She decided it would be best for all concerned if Red remained with the loving family with whom he now lives.

Traci as a child would see animals alongside the road and or running loose, and would make life somewhat trying until her mother had retrieved the animal to bring it home. Thus her love for animals started at a very young age, and continued to blossom as she grew into a young woman. All of this was quite evident as she drove away from the park that day in Bedford. Traci had tears of love and joy in her eyes for finding her lost “puppy,” yet she was hurting that he was not coming home with her. All of these emotions separated the child in her from the grown woman she had become.

Deciding what she wanted in her heart for herself—yet knowing what was better for Red and his new found children and home—had to be suppressed in making the right decision for Red, the right decision for the children, and least, the decision concerning her personal feelings. Red was to remain with his newfound family. Although it was hurtful, it was the right decision to be made.

Traci considered how many people had come to her aid in the quest: Family, friends, even strangers. It became quite obvious the community was one of very strong ties with a sense of family, making her quite proud of being part of them.

There is no way she can ever extend her gratitude to each and every one of them, yet she knows that someday she may be able to return the much needed assistance to those who so unselfishly gave their time and efforts merely to help.

A community of unselfishness is truly a rare quality in this day and time, a quality to be proud of.