Help me prove to a 14-year-old girl whose dog was almost killed that good people exist

Editor’s Note: I do my best to follow the 70-20-10 rule for social media, in which only 10 percent is about some form of self-promotion. Today is one of those 10 percent days, so feel free to skip it if you feel I’ve already used up your willingness to tolerate me in promotion mode. Also, the folks at SAGE have consistently asked me to avoid “unnecessary cursing” on the blog. Today, there will be some “necessary cursing” I would imagine. — VFF

This is Merle, a dog I’ve never met, who is owned by a 14-year-old girl I’ve never met, who is the daughter of a fellow journalism instructor I’ve never met. Such is life in the era of internet exchanges and pandemic lock downs. The only reason I know about him is because on Wednesday, some gutless asshole almost killed him.

Kelli Bloomquist shared the news about her daughter, Emilia, and Merle with folks via Facebook:

This morning, someone hit Emilia’s dog, Merle, and left him for dead. Somehow even with broken limbs he managed to make it to the barn where she found him on her way to the school bus. He is the sweetest most devoted dog and I’m sure he just kept thinking that he needed to find his way to her. I canceled all of my meetings for today and am at the vet with a very broken dog and a devastated girl.
Everything I want to say right now involves red hot anger and cuss words, but instead I’m bawling right alongside Emilia as we have to decide between putting her best friend down or surgery. So I’ll say this instead. Get off your *#%^ phone, slow *%# down, and watch where you’re going!

The vet gave Merle a decent chance to live, if he underwent some rather expensive surgery. As anyone with a pet knows, decisions like this are gut-wrenching. Anyone with a child knows that sense that you are desperate to do something, ANYTHING to ease that child’s pain. Anyone who lives in this country knows medical care is expensive and many folks don’t have the cash to cover.

Emilia decided she wasn’t ready to let go of Merle. She turned to the kindness of strangers to help her raise a ridiculous amount of money (for a kid) in way too short of a time:

Hi. My name is Emilia. I’m 14 years old and my dog, Merle, is my best friend. He is a blue heeler and we do everything together. This morning, someone hit Merle and left him for dead. They didn’t stop or come find us. I found him by the barn.

The vet said that he has broken bones and a lot of road rash from where he was hit. I don’t know how he made it back from the road to the barn except that he knew to come and find me.

The vet said that we could either put him down or give him a surgery that would fix his leg. He’s my best friend and I have to try to save him. I begged for the surgery for him, but $2,500 is a lot of money, especially in a big family with money being tight from everything in the world.

If you would be willing to help with the cost of Merle’s surgery even if it’s just $5 I will bake you cupcakes or rake your leaves or shovel stalls. I just have to give Merle a chance. Dr. Town said that he thinks that Merle could make it through the surgery because he’s young and they’re pretty clear breaks and not shattered.

I have to try. If you do want to help Merle and me, I would really appreciate it. Thank you from Merle.

When I read this, I just broke down.

Maybe it’s because I have a teenage daughter and I know how complicated and awful life can be at this age, even without major tragedies adding to the mix.

Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to hold a wounded animal while the vet presses a needle full of something blue into them and the life fades from their eyes.

Maybe it’s because every ad on TV these days is filled with political bile and vitriol to the point where an ad for cancer screening seems like a welcome respite.

Maybe it’s because, despite my protestations to the contrary, my wife is right: I’m actually a decent and caring person.

I don’t know… but here’s what I do know.

As much as I would like to find the worthless shitbag that hit Merle, tie him to the bumper of his vehicle by his gonads and drag him naked across a field of broken glass, I so much more want to give Emilia a sense of hope that really good people do exist.

If you want to donate to help with Merle’s surgery and care, here’s the link to the GoFundMe site. I know she would appreciate it, but that’s not my ask here. Everyone has different financial situations and I’m the last person on Earth who should tell anyone how to spend their money.

But, if you go to that page, you can actually send Emilia a message through the button that says “Contact.” My ask is that you reach out to her and give her something to believe in.

Share a story about your favorite pet. Tell her you’ll be following along to find out how Merle is doing. If you’re the praying type, tell her you’re praying for her best friend.

Prove to this one kid, this one time, in this one situation that people, regardless of their differences and disagreements, are basically good.

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