Friday, December 9, 2011

Operation: DEEP FREEZE

Yes, I apologize for the absentee of posts to all of you loyal lookers, but if this story is not blog worthy, I do not know what is! Well, since moving to Arizona I have made tons of good friends and acquaintances, but none quite like my dear friend Ruth. She is such a wonderful and special person words can barely begin to describe her awesome character! She is soooo sweet, so good, so caring, so giving, so much fun....she all around inspires you to be a better person! Here is the rest of the story.......

Earlier this month the colder/ freezing weather abruptly descended upon us here in Tucson. I am aware that most of you probably stereotype Arizona as a "tropical warm paradise" (which it is!), but nonetheless, it is a desert! Deserts are harsh to say the least. They can be warm and sunny during the day, but in the evening the mercury can take a dive swinging 30- 40 degrees. So, my question is this: " If you were homeless, where would you go and what would you do to survive?" Does anyone really truly know the answer to this question? Do we want to know the answer? It is some what like when we were children and asked the proverbial question, "Where do the butterflies go when it rains?" Now, as adults, I direct your inquiries toward a more serious topic of human life/ survival.

Thankfully, the Salvation Army has a program appropriately dubbed, "Operation Deep Freeze". Here, they provide shelter, meals and lavatory facilities for many men, women and children on nights that it is 34 degrees or below. Of course, if you are like me, someone had to bring this serious topic to my attention and that person would be Ruth! She said for several years she has helped these men and provided them with snacks, scarfs, gloves, hats etc., essentially anything to warm their heart, mind and soul! Well, if her humanitarian/ superwoman efforts do not tug at the old heart strings, wouldn't you know, on night two of our joint operation what do we literally stumble upon, but Alan and his service dog Prince!

We walked right past these two snugglers without an inkling that there was even a dog underneath those covers! Fortunately, as we were wrapping up inside the main hall with our distribution of sandwiches, gloves, hats, cheese, bananas and scarves, Ruth tapped my shoulder and said for me to come see something. Low and behold she had uncovered Alan and his dog! Ruth had spoken fondly of Alan and Prince from her previous years experiences, but we had no clue he was right under our cold wet nose!

Prince and Alan were so "zonked out" they did not even know we were there! Quietly, we left a PILE of sandwiches next to their bed along with a slew of other goodies. Naturally, after about a million and one questions to the staff later, carefully they woke the two sleeping beauties and we asked him if there was anything else he or the dog needed. As Alan stared up at Ruth (picture her tall slender celestial silhouette with light blonde halo of hair!) he simply inquired "Do you by chance have a dog sweater!" Can you get the picture!? I mean I'll learn to knit tonight darn it if we cannot buy one! So, what do you think these two (Ruth and I that is) did? Answer: a mission to 24hr Wal-Mart of course!
Off we went into the night to our favorite Wal-Mart we so affectionately dub, "Scary Wal-Mart". Come, come now, do you honestly think we simply purchased just a sweater? No! Long story/ trip short we covered the bare necessities: a Martha Stewart green cable knit, XL sweater (No doubt modeled after one of Martha's prize winning Chow dogs), a bag of dog food, an ultra plush bed, a Christmas toy monkey and my dogs favorite, a "road kill" squeakee toy! Yes, we pondered on outfitting Prince with a new collar, but in the end passed. Yep, that about did it! Back to the shelter we flew laden with gifts. Again, we softly awoke Alan to tell him we were leaving a few things for Prince. Immediately and profusely he thanked us. Alan was so excited to have the warm sweater for the dog because he said he had been shaking on these past cold winter nights. He also said it had been three years since he had provided a Christmas for Prince and that he was so excited and happy to have these toys and things to give to him. He even saved the toys to give to him later because he did not want to spoil Christmas! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH and as if that is not touching enough, the real kicker is when he tells us that he doesn't know how many more Christmases he will have with Prince, since he is 14 yrs old!!!!! Okay, I know this is story is about on par with "Terms of Endearment"! Truly, his genuine and heartfelt appreciation made all our efforts justifiable! So, I guess if you are out and about in Tucson, AZ and see a homeless gentleman and his faithful sidekick outfitted in a stunning green Martha sweater, you will know the lovely story about the man and his dog!