An old friend comes to town

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, January 5, 2017



I moved to Polk County in 2006. I had just sold a highly successful pet sitting business and many of my clients remain friends to this day. In the preface of my book “A Voice in the Hills,” I tell how I received the moniker “Uncle Lennie.”

Upon arrival, my goal was to work with and help as many animals as I could and today my 501(c)3, Lennie’s Kids, is widely known and supported.

Through the years, I’d often receive word that one of my old wards had passed on and I’d mourn the old memory.

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Jesse, a golden mix, was 3 years old when I left and he was one of the hardest to leave behind. Outside of his owners Steve and Carole, Jesse was shy and reclusive toward all other people, except Uncle Lennie. Steve and Carole were amazed at how Jesse took to me and Carole would joke, “I think he’d rather be with you than with us.” How could you not love a creature that put that much trust in you?

Carole has made a few trips back to our area because their intention was to retire in Polk County. On each visit we would get together for lunch and the conversation would inevitably turn to how Jesse was doing and how he missed his Uncle Lennie.

Lately I’ve been having a pretty tough time emotionally. Despite some of my best efforts, I’ve lost some of my very special kids to illnesses. I know I can’t save them all but sometimes I just take it personally.

Two weeks ago I received the call that Steve and Carole had moved to Inman and Jesse, who was now 14 years old, would love to see me. The visit was arranged for the following Saturday and was exactly the emotional fix I needed at this time. The thought of embracing my old friend again literally brought tears to my eyes.

We arrived at 10 a.m. on Saturday and when we went in Jesse was barking and trying to hide behind Carole. With the new environment and the 10 years since he’s seen me, he hadn’t put two and two together yet. Jesse now has Cushing’s disease and walks stiffly with his back legs but to me he was just as beautiful as ever.

I got down on one knee and held out my hand. “It’s me, old friend,” I said.

Jesse came up to me and sniffed my hands and allowed a gentle pet. We went into the living room and sat down and Jesse stayed glued to Carole. 

“Come here, Jesse,” I coaxed. “Uncle Lennie misses you.” 

Jesse slowly sidled over and I cupped his face in my hands.

“That’s my boy,” I said, kissing him between the eyes. All of a sudden a light went off in his brain and he knew who I was. Jesse began making the soft moan of contentment as I hugged him and ran my hands over his body. 

“Look at that, Steve,” Carole said, “Nobody could do that but his Uncle Lennie.”

God has blessed me with a certain ability to read His precious creatures. At times I’m fool enough to question His plan when He takes one of my kids before their time. Then I stop and realize that they are not truly my kids, they are His creations and He just lends them to us.

Thank you, Jesse, for being such a loyal friend. Through you I realize how much God loves me.

Thanks for listening.