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The Old Fella Story

November 03, 2015 By 0 Comments


The Old Fella Story

From time to time, I'll peruse through the RV.net forums to see what topics RVers are actively discussing to try to get some ideas for relevant blog posts, email ideas, etc., and just to learn new information in general. While looking through the forums a few weeks ago, I noticed that you can view what posts are the most popular! So I decided to check that out – and that is when I stumbled across one of the most touching true stories I have ever read. The post, titled "A very old stray {The Old Fella Story}" and created by Richard Daniels (username Dixie Flyer) in 2005, has just over 25,000 replies. To put that in perspective, the second most popular post right below it has only 5400.

Our story takes us ten years back; it was Labor Day weekend 2005. Richard, his wife Sue and their dog Levi were enjoying their holiday weekend at a campground in South Carolina. On the first day of their trip, while Richard was exploring the grounds, he met an old dog. As he tried to get closer to introduce himself, the dog hopped up and hobbled away. The next day, the old dog moseyed right into Richard and Sue's campsite and, as Richard describes, he just "looked so sad". So they gave the stray a bowl of Levi's dog food, which he happily accepted and ate. After a lazy afternoon with Levi, the old dog hobbled off once again and disappeared for the rest of the night.

The next morning, the dog was back at Richard and Sue's campsite. He was a little more open today, which gave Richard a chance to give him a good look-over. Richard noticed that half of the dog's rear foot was gone, which explained the hobbling. It was a wound that had healed some time ago but still left the dog with a noticeable limp and no foot pad. He was missing most of his teeth, and those that were left looked as though they were decayed. Richard made note that "his eyes were tired looking, showing his age". According to a host at the campground, the dog had been there for a few years, taking handouts from campers and interacting with other animals that were vacationing with their humans.

Upon returning from the weekend retreat, Richard created his post in the RV.net forums explaining his encounters with the old stray and posed the question: "What would you do?" Richard continued, "Do you pick him up and bring him home? Or do you let nature take its course?"

Little did Richard know that this action, this one question, this forum and the people in it, would ultimately create an incredible story of friendship, selflessness, and love.

The online RV community was there to offer advice and some suggestions. Richard decided to go back to the campground, collect the dog and bring him home. As one of the other forum members put it, "…let him enjoy the rest of his days in a loving home". So that is what Richard set out to do. It took a few attempts and some mild sedatives from the local vet, but Richard was finally able to pick up Old Fella. The dog was pretty beaten up. After a visit to the vet, Richard learned that Old Fella was suffering from heartworm, needed surgery on one of his paws, extensive dental work, a skin condition that required immediate attention, a pellet under the skin from being shot with a pellet gun, and a tumor that needed to be removed. Although the vet was doing some of the work pro-bono, all of those treatments were still going to add up. Richard continued to post frequent updates on Old Fella's progress. And then, something amazing happened. One by one, so touched by Richard's selfless deed of seeking help for this poor animal, people started offering to help pay for Old Fella's medical expenses. This was before crowdfunding, or social media sites, were popular, yet the people in this online community joined and were able to raise enough money to cover all of Old Fella's medical expenses. Things were looking up for the stray.

As Old Fella continued his treatments at the vet, Richard continued to visit the dog every day and made sure to post updates on his condition. Richard also told everyone the good news that the local newspaper offered to run a feature article on Old Fella once he was finally ready for adoption – although it was such a great gesture by the newspaper when I got to this post in the forum I couldn't help but yell, "No! You need to keep Old Fella!" right at my computer screen as if Richard could hear me – understandably, Richard did not want those who donated to feel as though they gave a donation so that he and his wife could keep the dog themselves. Everyone agreed though that the best home for Old Fella was with Richard, and many people came forward and encouraged Richard to keep the dog and give him a loving home. They were simply meant to be together.

With the vet bills paid by the generous online RV community, and the toughest treatments nearing an end, the time had finally come for Old Fella to go home with Richard and "enjoy the rest of his days in a loving home". Old Fella was scheduled to leave the vet's office on a Monday; the Friday before, nearly a month after first spotting Old Fella at the campground, Richard reflected on this journey with a post in the forums. Richard wrote, "It was a miracle that I was able to finally get him to the vet and then another miracle that was provided by the generous people of this forum that made it possible for Old Fellow to get the treatment he so desperately needed. I think a great big cheer needs to go out to all of you for caring and then stepping up to the plate with your gifts and support. Old Fellow now belongs to all of us and in some way, by giving to him and meeting his needs you have helped others as well. We have seen the heart of this forum shed tears and joy over the plight of this animal and give their support and prayers to one had no hope, nor joy nor purpose in life. Now there is purpose, now there is joy, and now there is meaning to all that has happened to this old stray. He has found his place in the hearts of many and enlightened us to the suffering of homeless animals who deep down inside are looking for a tender spot in each of us to help where we can. You have poured out your heart and for this, Old Fellow and I are eternally grateful. Such love will always be rewarded."

The day finally came to bring Old Fella home. Richard's other dog, Levi, and their cat, Izzie, all took well to the new guy in the house. Old Fella loved his new home, new friends and especially his new back yard. I think the most touching post for me in this entire thread was the update Richard gave on how Old Fella was enjoying his new surroundings. He wrote, "He lay for a long time in the back yard just rolling around in the grass, soaking up the fresh air and enjoying the green grass beneath him. If ever I have seen someone find peace in their life I have witnessed it today."

Almost a year after the thread started, Richard posted the following, "The Old Fella thread has been an inspiration for all of us. When this thread started last September, I would have never thought Old Fella's story would have such a far-reaching impact on so many people. The one thing that I have seen on the thread is the compassion that has come forth." He later continued in his post, "People have helped with the rescue effort here in Waynesboro, Georgia as well as helping in other states as well. Countless have sent me emails telling how they have adopted or given their time and efforts to older strays. The Old Fella story has truly touched all of us in a positive way. If ever there has been a poster boy for old strays Old Fella has done his part. Tonight he lays t my feet a happy and content old dog. He will often look at me with those captivating eyes of his just to let me know how much he appreciates his new home and parents. Out of all the animals I have had in my lifetime Old Fella touches my heart more than any other. Not only has his life changed but he has changed our lives as well." He also added, "Deep down inside this animal was a living breathing gentle soul that was just waiting for someone to find him and give him a place in their heart."

After hearing this story, it is hard not to believe that all of this happened for a reason. Richard believes this to be true, that Old Fella, he and the fellow RVers were all brought "together for some purpose." He posted to the forum, "The purpose as I see it at this moment is to unite people together all across this great land in a bond of love that transcends all boundaries." He continued with, "We may suffer, we may be in sorrow and pain, but wait for tomorrow for the hope that it brings. Old Fella waited five years to be rescued. … [H]e waited and watched as people passed through his life asking is this the one that will save me? … [H]e waited with faith that someday his turn would come and his faith was rewarded."

Old Fella lived a happy and fulfilling life with Richard and his family for nearly three years. He passed away in June 2008 from complications caused by bone cancer. His legacy and the impression he left on so many people is sure to live on forever.

Richard was able to honor Old Fella by forming the Old Fella Burke County Animal Rescue, which in 2007 became the very first licensed rescue group in Burke County. Richard, with the help of his fellow online RVers, also organized the Old Fella RV Rally as a way to "celebrate the life and legacy of Old Fella". This past October, the rally marked its 10th year in Sevierville, Tennessee! To learn about and keep up to date on information regarding the Old Fella RV Rallies, you can visit the forum on RV.net - click here

Richard's selflessness and the generosity of the other RV.net forum members are such an incredible inspiration; I think it sums up what it feels like to be a part of the RV community. I think what can be taken away from the Old Fella story is that we should all strive to find peace within ourselves so that we can help others find internal peace as well, whether it be a stray dog or a fellow human being. As Richard put it, "No matter what we face, no matter what we have to endure. We must wait by faith that our day will come and it will be our turn to be rescued from whatever plight we may be in. Our faith will see us through all of life's trials and with that will come compassion for others we meet along the way. That is what this thread is all about."

To go to the full thread on the RV.net forums, please visit http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/16147275.cfm

To learn more about Old Fella Burke County Animal Rescue or to make a donation, please visit http://www.oldfella.org/index.html

To find other shelters in your area, please visit http://theshelterpetproject.org/shelters


Posted: November 3, 2015

Tags: Customer Stories  

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