Your Charmed Life

Your Charmed Life

Angels Unawares

I didn’t expect to have anything in common with the cab driver.

She picked me up at my hotel in Delray Beach Monday morning. We could have been the subjects of a fashion magazine story on divergent styles of dress and presentation. I’m the girly-girl character, in my Mary Jane shoes from MooShoes and a flippy little black skirt and ruffly top from my favorite New York City boutique (Suzanne Splann, 90th & Madison). She, on the other hand, is doing the androgyny thing with short, spiked hair, jeans, and several tattoos. I figured we’d talk about general stuff—the weather and how hard it is to decipher a phone bill. And for a while, that’s what we did. But somehow the phone conversation segued into how much she enjoys sending photos from her phone, especially pictures of Old Girl, her dog who passed away.


The driver (I’ll call her “Angie” because I never got her name)  ran into Old Girl — literally. Several cars had stopped to avoid hitting the little stray, who darted out from under Angie’s car and greeted her like a lifelong friend. It was late: Angie took her home, gave her a flea bath, and went to bed. The next morning, she took the sickly orphan to the vet who advised her to put the dog to sleep. “She has thousands of dollars worth of problems,” he told her. No one had ever removed her puppy collar and it had grown into her neck to the point of damaging her ability to swallow. Her nails were ingrown. Her teeth were rotted. Her immune system was compromised, and she was both blind and deaf. Angie asked about fixing the problems one at a time, but the doctor told her that if Old Girl was to live, he’d need to fix the bulk of them right away.


“Well, how old do you think she is?” Angie wanted to know. The vet said, “About three.” Not such an old girl….

Angie responded, “Well, I wouldn’t kill my three-year-old child just because it would cost money to save her life, so go ahead.”

The vet performed several surgeries to deal with the collar and throat issues. He extracted all her teeth but six (“She could only eat wet food and no dog biscuits unless I soaked them”), got her claws back to normal, and even did a corneal transplant on one eye so she had some limited vision. The deafness Old Girl would simply have to deal with, and the immune insufficiency meant that she wouldn’t be able to fight off disease the way another dog her age could. But none of this kept her from greeting Angie every time she came in, from being her guardian and buddy, and teaching her about acceptance and boundless love.


Now, Angie is not a rich woman. She’s a single mom raising two daughters with no help from her ex or anyone else. She drives a taxi for a living. Spending thousands of dollars to save a dog she’d just met was no small commitment, but she did it. And for four years, until cancer claimed Old Girl, the little dog, a kind of canine Helen Keller, paid her back in spades.

By the time we got to the airport in West Palm Beach, there were tears on my face. Angie heaved my bag out the trunk and met me on the curb, saying, “Look at this.” She leaned down, lifted the leg of her dungarees, and showed me the tattoo: Old Girl’s actual paw print, with some loving sentiments surrounding it. Then we hugged.

I live in New York City and I travel a lot. I’ve been in a great many cabs. This is the first time a driver and I ever embraced. And it wasn’t just the two of us. Old Girl was there for absolute certain. And Aspen, the 15-year-old rescue who taught my daughter and me why dog is God spelled backwards: because God is Love and dog is too. Aspen is getting chemotherapy for lymphoma. We don’t know how long she has, but she has today.

And so do we. It’s a good day for connecting — with a pet that needs a home, with someone who’s sad because a loved one is ill, or with a person you think you’ll have nothing in common with, but who may turn out to be angel just the same.

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posted February 5, 2009 at 8:55 am

Oh, gee, Victoria, I have tears in my eyes and it’s not even 9:00am!
What a great reminder – we have a 20 year old kitty who is hanging on but having some health problems and it’s such a wonderful message to cherish each day with her.

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posted February 5, 2009 at 9:44 am

I loved this. Especially the “dog is God spelled backwards: because God is Love and dog is too”; I never thought about this, but it’s oh so true! My rescue dog teaches me that every single day. May Aspen gets better; but however it turns out, at least she knows that your family loves her and is there for her. Sometimes I feel that love is more important for them than anything else.
Warm regards,

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Ann Adams

posted February 5, 2009 at 11:48 am

What a touching story. A lovely reminder of how precious every life is and that no moment should ever be taken for granted. I read it with tears running down my face as my little Tieran (8 year old male himmy) slept on my lap, purring loud enough for the neighbors to hear. I nearly lost him two years ago so I know very well the feelings that come with dealing with a pets illness. Please know that I am holding Aspen in my thoughts.

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posted February 5, 2009 at 4:36 pm

hi Victoria, I’m smiling knowing that Aspen is still with us. I have done K9 resuce since I was 19 and your story today really touched me. My latest is a puppy that a woman and boy were giving away at my local SavMart… they said she was Chihuahua and Yorkshire, she had no hair (just matted fuzz) and her skin was sweaty and greasy, but (like Old Girl and Angie) she was happy to see me. Angels are all around us… sometimes we are the angels and we minister to each other as you and Angie did. How Blessed we are to know Love!
I am so glad you are blogging here!! :-)

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Jeanine Gehringer

posted February 5, 2009 at 4:50 pm

When I was single for twelve years, I owned two wonderful cats. After seventeen years I lost one. The other, Winnie, lived to be twenty. I almost lost her at nineteen and coaxed her back and she finally began eating again. I cherish the last year of her life which was a special gift.Pets are very special.

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posted February 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm

A beautiful article. Thanks once again Victoria.
Love Barbara

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posted February 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm

I want to hug Angie, too! What a blessing that she and Old Girl found each other. Thank you for this beautiful story!

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posted February 5, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Great story about another wonderful dog. The world seems to be full of them.
We recently had to have our “baby girl” Ellie, a minature poodle, euthanized, and found it to be the most painful thing we have ever had to do. She had lymphoma and with the aid of chemotherapy, lasted for 11 months until the disease got the best of her.
Reading stories like yours amkes the world seem a better place in spite of the pain we sometimes have to endure.
God bless Angie.

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posted February 6, 2009 at 5:20 am

Another beauty, Victoria. You were born to blog.

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posted February 6, 2009 at 12:08 pm

So, here I am, crying as I finish this story… How beautiful and how wonderful and how sweet we all are, just trying to love, to survive, to find a friend in the most unlikely of places….. Old dog and the taxi girl….. and all of us…. Much love to you Victoria, for being open to connect on every level…. Linda xoxo

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Jacqueline Whitmore

posted February 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm

What a touching story! As I wipe the tears from my eyes, I must tell you that I have two, lovey “fur children” and I cherish every second with them. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Oliver, sits in my chair with me as I work each day. Thanks for sharing this cab driver’s message with the world!

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Nukhet Hendricks

posted February 14, 2009 at 9:58 am

Thank you for sharing Angie with us. I run an animal shelter and everyday, I witness the angels in disguise walk in and fall in love with our cats and dogs… and take their baby home like the gift from God they are! I couldn’t do what I do without the angels like Angie and you Victoria! Thank you!

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J S Burns

posted June 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

What an awesome blog! I have had 4 dogs and they have all been rescues. Two of them have passed on and two are the biggest part of our lives. Our latest one is a little shih-tzu rescued from a puppy mill. My life wouldn’t be the same without them.

Thanks for sharing this story!

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