Fate has a way of putting us in just the right place at just the right time. After one man by chance found himself saving the life of a cruelly-treated dog, the two formed a bond neither could ever forget.
In January, Bob Hoelter was walking to a local store in Griffith, Indiana, when he heard a strange noise coming from below a bridge—a heartbreaking whimpering sound, he recalls.
“I was looking at the water and the land, but I don’t see anything, but I hear it,” Hoelter told The Dodo. “I walked back to land and I walked around and looked around.”
He investigated the scene, not sure what he would find: “I get my flashlight out because I always carry a flashlight with me,” Hoelter said. “I got to the bottom. I finally see him!”
But nothing could’ve prepared him for the horrific sight he found: an emaciated 4-month-old puppy whose mouth was shut with electrical tape. Hoelter was shocked, and wasted no time in getting the poor animal to the nearby Griffith Animal Hospital.
It was a case of remarkably good timing: despite frigid cold weather, that night Hoelter just happened to walk instead of drive, as he normally does.
“That night I decided I needed some exercise,” Hoelter said.
Even the doctors at the animal hospital were shocked by the incident: “Yesterday I was proven wrong. I have not seen it all,” hospital manager Lori Kovacich wrote in a Facebook post. “In my 30 years of working here, I never thought I’d see this…in real life.”
She got to work helping the puppy so fast that she didn’t even get around to thanking Hoelter for bringing the dog in: “I was out of my chair and in the lobby to get him in seconds,” Kovacich told The Dodo. “I think I kind of had tunnel vision.”
The staff found the dog was in very poor condition: he was emaciated and the skin underneath the tape indicated it had been on there for days.
The puppy also had a broken leg, leading them to suspect the dog’s owner had thrown him from the bridge. Instead of landing in the water, he hit the ground.
Despite all these hardships, the puppy, who the staff named Louie, was nursed back to full health.
Even better: Louie’s story caught the attention of a loving couple, the Wittings, who gave the poor a long-overdue good home.
“I thought, ‘That cute little face, he needs me. I can give him 24/7 love, and I need him,’” Mary Witting told The Dodo.
It was a happy ending to a heartbreaking story… but that wasn’t all.
While the hospital never got Hoelter’s contact information, Hoelter’s niece saw the Facebook post and set up an emotional reunion between the puppy and his rescuer.
And not only that, Louie remembered him, licking Hoelter’s face as if to say thank you.
“I was awestruck because I didn’t think he remembered me,” Hoelter said. “They sat him down and he ran right to me.”
Hoelter told The Dodo that he’s just thankful he was able to be there to find the dog that night, and believes there may have been some divine intervention at play.
“It makes me think God has a purpose for everyone, to be honest with you. We all have our calling,” Hoelter said.
“I’m going to have to walk more often, he added. “But I sure don’t want to find more dogs under the bridge.”
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