ALBANY, Ga. -- Everybody's got an animal story. They're usually heartwarming -- touching even -- and are followed by the obligatory "Awwws."
Susan Cronin's animal story could be a Disney movie.
The office administrator/interior designer met stray Jack Russell terrier Slim on a wet Wednesday afternoon in late November of last year. Within a whirlwind 24-hour period, she somehow managed to find not one, but two, of the dog's owners.
"I was on my way to Westover High School to pick up my son Evan, and it was pouring down rain," Cronin, one of those high-energy people whose enthusiasm for life is always bubbling near the surface, said over a cup of coffee. "I was in the Lake Park subdivision, and I saw the sweetest dog wandering in the rain. I got out of my car and called him, and he came right to me.
"I loaded him up in the car, and when we got to Westover, Evan opened the door and said, 'Mom, another one?'"
It seems Cronin had previously found and, for a time, taken care of cocker spaniel/dachshund mix William (who's still available on petfinder.com).
"I took (Slim) home, but our cats didn't want him there, so I decided to go back and drive around the neighborhood where I found him to see if anyone was out looking for him," Cronin picks up her story. "I couldn't believe a young mother actually opened the door for me at the first house I went to, but she had a 10-year-old who said, 'I think he lives that way.'
"I was cruising down an alley and pulled into someone's driveway to turn around. Before I could back out of the driveway, the homeowner came out of the house with a phone in hand. He did not look thrilled."
When Cronin explained her situation, the homeowner suggested she call a local animal hospital. She told him she had no phone with her, so the homeowner simply pushed a button and handed her the phone.
He had the facility on speed dial.
"This is where the story gets amazing," Cronin said. "It was 10 'til 6, and the girl at the vet's office told me they closed at 6. I told her my story and said I'd pay to board the dog. I could hear in her voice that she was going to say no, but she told me if I got there before 6 and paid up front she'd take the dog in.
"So I rushed there, and when I walked in the door with the dog, the receptionist gasped and called out to her co-worker, 'Come look at this dog and tell me who he looks like.' The other girl came out and said, 'It can't be.'"
The Jack Russell was a dead ringer for the young lady's family dog, which had gone missing two years earlier. She checked his back teeth and, sure enough, two of them were missing, just like her family's dog.
The young lady kept the dog at the office and didn't charge Cronin. The story, apparently, had its happy ending.
But the next morning, after taking Evan to school, Cronin, for some reason she couldn't explain, took a different route back toward their home. She was on Flamingo Road when she saw a notice posted on a stop sign. It was for a lost dog and, upon closer inspection, Cronin saw that the dog looked very familiar.
"It looked just like the dog I'd taken to the vet's the day before," she said. "I stopped to take down the number on the sign, and a vehicle drove by. The woman driving saw me, stopped and said, 'Are you the one who saved my dog?' "
The woman, who was so distraught over losing Slim she'd called her 21-year-old daughter home from Columbus College to help her look for him, had started calling veterinarians' offices to see if anyone had brought in her missing Jack Russell.
Slim, it turns out, had wandered off and had been missing for three days. She and Slim's previous owner at the vet's office discussed it and agreed the dog should stay with its new owner.
"A lot of times with stories like these, things just don't work out," Cronin said. "But in less than a day, I was able to find not just one but two of the dog's owners. And the story had a happy ending."