Diana Ochsner has deployed many times with the Red Cross through the years, from Colorado to Kentucky, North Carolina to Louisiana. But one story from a deployment to Sugar Land, Texas, last fall following Hurricane Harvey has stuck with her more than most.
It’s a story of kindness, serendipity and a little puppy love.
Ochsner, of Jerome, and fellow Red Cross volunteer Julie Fox, of Rochester, N.Y., were at a kitchen operation in Sugar Land when a car pulled up. A woman got out, puppy in hand. She was a Hurricane Harvey survivor who was leaving the state, and she dropped the puppy in Fox’s lap and quickly drove away.
Ochsner and Fox got the little guy some water and then went to a store to buy him food. Ochsner called the local shelter to see if they could take the animal, but they were so overwhelmed following the hurricane it took them several days to call back.
So Fox stepped in, caring for the abandoned pup.
A shelter eventually took the dog, assuring Fox she could visit him anytime, which she did as often as possible. They had become quite attached, and both cried each time it came time for Fox to leave.
A few days later, the shelter called to see if Fox wanted to adopt the Catahoula. Fox agreed.
“All of us were crying,” said Ochsner, who has volunteered with the Red Cross of Greater Idaho since 2012. “We all got attached to the orphaned puppy very quickly, but Julie and the puppy bonded immediately. The deployment was a very difficult one so when this event happened, it was a little sunshine in the middle of a bad storm.”
An American Red Cross media team happened to be in Sugar Land at the time and photographed the whole thing.
A week later, the pup was bound for his new home in Rochester, riding in a crate donated by the shelter.
For Fox, this new friendship had special meaning, a friendship born from the ashes. The year before, Fox lost her cat and dog to a home fire.
She gave her little hurricane survivor a fitting name – Harvey.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Fox said. “This puppy was meant for me to take back home.
“He has been a ray of sunshine. My hope is the past owners know what an unselfish act they bestowed on him given their situation. And they can rest easy knowing he is well taken care of.”
— By Matt Ochsner