A Miracle in Wyoming
At the base of the Wind River mountain range in central Wyoming lies the tiny town of Lander, population 7,000. A community where everybody knows virtually everyone else's name and their dogs', too.
Gizmo, a young yellow Labrador retriever, runs as a mate to Joe, our local golf course superintendant. On any given day -- sunup to sundown -- the two can be seen mowing the fairways, Joe on the mower and Gizmo running a trailing position, sniffing out prairie dogs, birds, and other critters that dare find their way onto his golf course.
On June 27, tragedy befell the community, and Gizmo became a part of a story that will be told for many years to come.
The volunteer fire whistle rang out just after 5:00pm. Joe, unable to take Gizmo with him during his round of golf in a men's league event, left the canine where he knew he would be safe: in his office at the community center adjacent to the golf course. It was a place Gizmo knew well and was comfortable in.
Joe and his fellow golfers heard the sirens and then noticed a plume of black smoke circling into the bright Wyoming sky. One of the golfers, a volunteer firefighter, jumped as his radio sounded the alarm for him to drop everything and carry out his duties as a firefighter. Unfortunately, the radio voice also broadcast the location of the fire and Joe's heart sank -- it was the community center!
Racing to the far side of the golf course, Joe could only imagine what he would find when he crested the top of the hill, a location where the third tee box provided an expansive view of the conditions below. Tears filled his eyes as he saw flames shooting skyward a hundred feet, perhaps two. A lump grew in his throat as he contemplated the agony that his friend must be enduring at the base of the conflagration. More tears.
There were a number of emergency vehicles already in action when Joe arrived at the fire. "My dog is inside!" he screamed to the fire chief. The response was what he had expected: "I'm sorry, but I can't allow anyone inside there right now. Our priority has to be putting the fire out."
Reluctantly, Joe resigned himself to the fact that Gizmo was gone. Gizmo's owner sat down on the sixth tee box, a mere two hundred feet from the fire, with tears in his eyes -- tears not because of the acrid smoke that billowed into the dusky sky, but out of emotions that erupted to the surface as he realized that he had lost his friend and that there was nothing he could do about it. A brief text message to his wife in Colorado: Gizmo is gone. More tears.
The fire that destroyed a local landmark was tragic, and so many folks were touched by the demise of an iconic building that housed so many memories for so many decades. Yet out of the ashes rises a glimmer of hope -- a silver lining to a dark reminder of the power of nature.
It took firefighters over three hours to break the will of the fire. Refusing to leave his post until Gizmo's body could be retrieved, Joe sat, the kind words and condolences from friends his only solace. As the backhoe began tearing down the walls at the back of the center, a large contingency of firefighters, exhausted and depleted, sat in a large throng in the parking lot, eyeing the destruction that lay before them.
A noise...something moved! "Look in the window!" yelled a bystander. Two blackened paws clawed at the windowsill of an office window that had been blown out by fire hours earlier. A moment later, a charcoal-encrusted face with bloodshot eyes peered over the frame of the charred window.
As friends called out to Joe, "It's Gizmo...it's Gizmo!" The fire chief himself raced to the window and gently scooped up the dog, cradling him in his arms. Now, more tears...but these of joy, as Joe raced toward the heroes in his life: the dog and the firefighters. The parking lot erupted in cheers of joy as rejoicing firefighters found reason to celebrate what is usually a dire occurrence. Dozens of onlookers, tears filling their eyes, watched as Joe and his dog were reunited.
Gizmo's survival is nothing short of a miracle. For three and half hours, this dog, with no voice to call out for help, endured searing heat, smoke, and water inundation. This miracle dog took refuge under a large butcher-block table during the ordeal. As the roof collapsed inward, the table took the brunt of the barrage and shielded Gizmo from the tongues of fire and smoke that surely could have taken his life. The heat, hot enough to melt a computer and printer on top of the table, could not extinguish this dog's will to live...for he chooses to run again behind Joe's mower.
Two days after the incident, I am happy to report that Gizmo is doing better. According to Joe, he is still not himself and is lethargic, but as each moment passes, he improves.
Out of the ashes of a tragedy, we are given a symbol of hope, love, and devotion. As we lament the opinion of the chief justice, let us be reminded of the hope that still remains: that this ruling will unite true patriots in their efforts to make this president a one-termer. Miracles can happen.