The first time I saw Doty it was 10 degrees below zero and she was foraging for food with two other dogs on a service road along a busy highway in Chicago.

I was driving a food truck and had just finished a delivery to a place on Doty Road. As I hurried along to my next scheduled stop, I watched an enormous brown German shepherd with two puppies trotting down the road. The mother was so thin her skin had sunk into her rib cage--and the puppies didn't look much better.

As I drove forward, one of the pups went into the frozen weeds on the side of the highway while the mother and sibling continued down Doty Road. To my horror a semi-truck was headed in my direction. As it came closer, the pup turned back to the road directly in front of the truck.

Within seconds, I stopped my vehicle, jumped out, and grabbed the startled puppy. There was no harm done to either of us, but now I was stuck with a dog that I did not want.

The mother had already disappeared from view, and I was left holding the most pitiful animal I had ever seen. Her body was covered with sores and there was no hair on her to even determine what color she was. But I couldn't just leave her to fend for herself, so I grabbed a steak sandwich from the back of my food truck, wrapped the puppy in a scarf I had around my neck, and headed to my next stop.

The smell emanating from this sorrowful-looking canine was almost more than I could tolerate, but the joy of being warm and having some food in her belly made for a very happy dog.

I got off work and stopped at the veterinarian's office to see if I could bring the puppy in later in the day. First I needed to take her to my house to bathe her.

Later, the vet did a thorough examination and determined that the puppy had many problems. The most important one was that she was malnourished. He informed me that she probably would not have lived for more than 48 hours if I had not brought her in. Secondly, she appeared to have been bitten by rats over a good portion of her little body. Lastly, she had a hernia in her abdomen that would require surgery.

Being a single mother of three daughters, I definitely could not afford the $750.00 that it was going to cost to get my new best friend healthy. But I believed that for some reason God intended for me to find this little gal, and he would provide a way.

I instructed the vet to do whatever he had to do to save the little puppy I named Doty.

And God did find a way! When my mail was delivered the next day I received a check for $825 that I had not been expecting. Now I'd be able to afford Doty's surgery!

Over the next two years, Doty required more medical attention, but eventually she grew into a beautiful, healthy, and important addition to our family.

I've always believed that every act of kindness, no matter how small, will be given back in some unexpected way. When Doty was eight years old she paid me back every dollar spent for her care. In reality it was I who would end up owing her.

My daughters Shelly and Tracey, with their two toddlers Alex and Damon, had just returned from shopping and had pulled into the driveway of Tracey's house. Tracey immediately took her son from his car seat and opened the front door. Doty walked onto the front porch and watched as Shelly placed her son on the ground and reached into the car to get her purse. Before she could pick Alex up, an enormous Rottweiler came charging from the bushes alongside the house and ran straight for her little boy.

Within seconds, Doty attacked the dog, which was more than twice her size. Shelly grabbed her son and ran for the house. In the meantime Doty kept the Rottweiler's attention on her. When she knew the baby was safe, she crawled under the car where the Rottweiler couldn't get to her and stayed there until the police and animal control arrived to come pick up the stray dog.

Needless to say, Doty became our hero. If she hadn't been there I would hate to think of what might have happened to my grandson. My small act of kindness eight years earlier had been repaid many times over in a few short minutes.

Doty lived to be 12 years old. Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, she had to be put down to spare her any more suffering. But she left behind a family that will always love her like no other dog before or since.

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