Willy - CujoThe miracle of Kindness to the least of all creatures has a way of coming round full circle to touch many hearts and teach lessons of compassion. This is the story of an elderly Golden Retriever, Willy: loved, lost, reclaimed to love but lost again, rescued once more when he thought, perhaps that his luck had finally run dry, and finally, miraculously found again—truly found again.

You see, Willy has had many adventures in his life. He was first loved by a family who called him Cujo. His family was moving homes in St. Louis when, by accident, a gate was left open. Willy (formerly Cujo) and his companion dog were lost. While signs, and calls, and a network of friends were able to return the companion dog, Willy was never found. The heart broken young daughter (Kayla) who loved him so, promised never to forget him and every year, set out a Christmas stocking for him—never giving up hope that one day love would bring him home.

Well, six years came and went. Willy’s life went on. Somehow he found himself in the home of an elderly woman in Columbia (over 2 hours from his home in Saint Louis). When the elderly woman became ill she was taken to a nursing home. Willy was found alone in her home but(having lost yet another companion), he was carted off to the Humane Society—left to what would have been likely euthanasia for this gentlemanly old dog. This ignoble sentence was just not meant to be, as he was once again found but this time by the Saint Louis Golden Retriever rescue group: Dirk’s fund.

Poor Willy, having grown mostly deaf through many ear infections, with only matted fur and a broken toe to show for his years, didn’t have much to win him favors but Dirk’s Fund has long seen the value of love given to old dogs and then returned in kind. So, Willy was to find good veterinary care, caring foster home and anonymous internet fame in a posting on the website: .

You might guess—the rest they say is history. Perhaps karma, perhaps just the enduring wish of a little girl and a lonely Christmas stocking, perhaps just miracle of kindness coming round again, Willy made the long journey home, but not before sharing his love where he could and finally, coming home to Kayla and her family. Who can say how Kayla and her family found the website, how Willy made it to Columbia and how the Saint Louis based rescue society found him there, saw a dog worth saving only to bring him back to St. Louis and eventually home again. There are many words for this but best of all is love. Willy and his family reunited January 26 at 3:30 p.m. at Kennelwood on Mason Lane in Ballwin, Missouri. It was a long time coming. Welcome home!

A special thank you to KSDK, KETC, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Suburban Journals for covering this wonderful reunion. Thank you to all the volunteers and generous donors to Dirk’s Fund. Without you, there wouldn’t be a wonderful ending to this heartfelt story. To view this reunion, please view the video on KSDK’s website or read KSDK’s report.

Anne-Marie Berger’s Willy/Cujo story originally aired Monday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. on St. Louis channel KETC/Channel 9’s weekly magazine show, “Living St. Louis.” You may watch the online video of this wonderful reunion on the KETC Channel 9 website. [Video]

Dirks Fund