“Snow, cold, wind, and I am stuck in this train station on Christmas Eve afternoon,” Andy mumbled, looking around the sparsely populated terminal.
“What a way to spend a holiday,” he lamented.
“Attention!” the loudspeaker echoed. “The Silver Streak Express is now arriving. The train’s departure will be delayed due to snow and deteriorating weather conditions.”
“Oh great, I might not get home for Christmas,” Andy said as he got up from the uncomfortable bench seat and walked toward the ticket counter.
After confirming the delay and getting no estimated departure time, Andy returned to his seat and positioned himself between two new weather refugees.
“Stuck here too?” he asked one lady sitting close-by.
“Yes,” she replied, “and it's snowing outside. I’m visiting from Florida and this much snow is exciting.”
“I’m from Chicago so I’m not that thrilled about it,” he explained. “Besides, it might mean we spend Christmas in this train station.”
“Attention!” the loudspeaker blurted again. “No further trains will be arriving or departing this afternoon or evening due to bad weather.”
“Well, that’s it. We’re stranded,” Andy sighed as he rose and walked over to a window.
He noticed the snow was falling at a heavier rate. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a small brown haired animal moving down the whitened sidewalk in a haphazard pattern.
A woman approached, sweeping the floor.
“That looks like a dog out there,” he pointed out the window.
“Yes, that’s Nosee,” the woman responded. “He’s been hanging around here the past week or so. I try to feed him when I can. Oh, and he’s going blind. I call him No - see.”
“Poor little fella,” Andy empathized.
“I heard his owner dumped him,” the lady said. “Maybe they didn’t want a blind or sick dog. It happens you know. Wish I could take him home but I can’t afford it right now. If I take him to the city shelter, he would be put to sleep.”
“It will be getting dark soon and colder too,” Andy noted before returning to his seat.
A few minutes passed and Andy grew increasingly anxious thinking about the plight of the dog.
“I think I will see if I can bring him in here, maybe get him some water and something to eat,” Andy thought, seeking to ease his concern.
He put on his coat and ventured outside in search of Nosee.
“He couldn’t have gone far, he can’t see very well,” Andy recounted, looking high and low for any clue to Nosee’s whereabouts.
“Looks like some tracks in the snow lead over there,” Andy followed into an alley.
“Here boy,” Andy yelled. “Here Nosee …”
Not a sound was heard in response.
Andy turned and walked back toward the street. Looking back one last time, he noticed an old cardboard box on its side in the back corner of the alley.
He hesitated and then decided to walk back and check the box.
Andy stooped down and noticed a familiar little brown haired creature. It was Nosee huddled in the box surrounded by trash.
“Hey Nosee,” Andy offered.
The little dog’s head looked up slowly in Andy’s direction seeming to stare right through him.
“Hi boy,” Andy said as he reached out to cautiously pet Nosee.
Andy noticed the odd looking grey clouded opaque eyes, an indication that Nosee was indeed going blind.
“Let’s get you inside where it’s warm,” he said, scooping up Nosee in his arms.
Drained of energy, the animal did not resist.
After a short walk back into the train station, Andy took off his coat and set the dog down on the bench seat using his coat as a makeshift dog bed.
Andy approached the ticket window and asked if they had a bowl he could use for some water for his new found friend.
“Well, we don’t allow pets in here,” the station clerk said.
“Look, it’s Christmas Eve, and I can’t let the poor animal starve or freeze to death outside,” Andy replied.
“Hmmm,” the clerk thought a moment. “I didn’t see any dog in here. Dog? What dog?”
Both Andy and the clerk smiled.
“See the lady over there about a bowl and water,” the clerk added, pointing to the lady Andy had met earlier sweeping by the window.
Andy and the lady procured a water bowl and a few scraps of roast beef from a lunch box sandwich she had.
After a few sips of water, Nosee scarfed down the roast beef as if he had not eaten for a week.
“Feel better boy?” Andy asked, patting Nosee on the head.
Nosee looked up with a slight whimper. His attempt at a puppy dog smile said it all.
Andy sat there with Nosee in his lap on his folded coat as the evening hours passed.
The terminal grew silent and they both fell asleep.
“Attention!” the loudspeaker blared out for the first time in hours, waking Andy. “The Silver Streak Express will be departing shortly from Gate 2. All passengers please report there.”
The crossroad Andy had been dreading was finally here.
“What to do with you?” he questioned, looking at Nosee.
Nosee looked at Andy with an expression that seemed to say “thank you” yet also “good-bye” as if expecting to be abandoned again.
Andy stood up holding Nosee and strolled in the direction of Gate 2. The station clerk was ahead doubling as ticket checker.
“Well, we don’t allow pets on our trains,” the clerk informed in a deja-vu experience.
“It’s Christmas …” Andy stated before being interrupted.
“I don’t see any dogs here,” the ticket checker smiled, pointing the way to the train.
Andy returned the smile and walked down the corridor, dog in arms, knowing he did the right thing.
Nosee was exhibiting a doggie smile too, panting with tongue hanging out.
Moments before Andy stepped on the train, a familiar sound echoed.
“Attention!” the loudspeaker bellowed, “Merry Christmas … and good luck Nosee.”
The clickety-clack of the train tracks was a hypnotic and soothing sound to Andy.
“How are you doing, Nosee?” Andy whispered to the senior partially blind dog he had just rescued from the cold weather while waiting at the train station.
Nosee looked up and smiled, panting with his tongue hanging out.
The train was only about half full on this early Christmas morning.
Andy and Nosee had a row of seats all to themselves.
A young lady walked down the aisle, noticed them, and issued a look of surprise as she passed.
“Hope she isn’t going to complain about you being on the train,” Andy thought out loud.
Andy closed his eyes with Nosee in his lap, hoping for at least a brief nap.
A couple of minutes later, he was awakened by a voice.
“Excuse me,” she said.
Andy looked up and noticed the same young lady that had passed by earlier.
“I don’t mean to bother you but I couldn’t help but notice your dog,” she smiled.
“Oh, I found him outside the train station while waiting for the train,” he explained. “Someone who works at the station said he was abandoned and had been there for a while wandering around outside.”
“What’s his name?” she asked.
“His name in Nosee.” he replied. “The train station employees who were feeding him gave him that name, No - see, because they think he is going blind and he doesn’t get around very well.”
“Hi, Nosee,” she said as she slowly reached down to pet him.
Nosee looked up with approval.
“He seems to like you,” Andy noticed. “You like dogs?”
“Yes ... and cats, birds, bunnies, pigs,” she smiled. “I have a small vet clinic in Sanderson.”
“I also live in Sanderson,” he said. “You must be heading home too.”
“Yes,” she agreed, “and several hours late because of the weather delay.”
“Umm ... would you like to sit here with us?” Andy offered after a brief pause.
“OK,” she said taking a seat next to Andy and Nosee.
“I’m Lori,” she smiled.
“I’m Andy,” he replied.
“So, are you heading home to your family for Christmas?” Lori asked.
“Heading home for Christmas, yes. As far as family, it is just me, and now Nosee,” Andy replied.
“What about you?” Andy asked.
“No family at home,” she replied. “Well, yes actually. My pets are my family.”
“Why did you decide to become a vet?” Andy inquired.
“Years ago, I was engaged to a wonderful guy and two weeks before the wedding my fiance',” she choked up, “was killed in a car accident.”
“I went into a deep depression and after a while,” she continued, “I made the decision to dedicate my life to helping others, in my case, helping animals.”
“It saved my life,” she admitted. “It gave me a reason to get up in the morning. I found that when I was helping animals, I wasn’t depressed.”
“So sorry for your loss,” he consoled her.
“Thank you,” she replied. “My fiance' was killed the day before Christmas, so each year I travel to a nearby town on that day and offer free vet services to a local shelter. I try to bring some Christmas cheer to the shelter workers and to the pets that are there. My work is done and I am on my way home.”
“What about you?” Lori inquired.
“I had a business meeting that finished up yesterday and I am heading home now,” Andy explained.
Andy and Lori continued their conversation until the first light of morning could be seen out of the train windows.
“We must be getting near Sanderson,” Andy figured.
“The sun is coming up,” Lori observed.
“Oh, and Merry Christmas,” Lori said with a smile.
“Merry Christmas to you too,” Andy replied.
The train pulled into the small Sanderson station under clearing but cold skies.
The train stopped. Lori and Andy rose from their seats and walked off the train. Nosee was still in Andy’s arms.
Once inside the warmth of the one room train station, they waited together for their suitcases.
“I was wondering,” they both said to each other in unison before they stopped and giggled together.
“I was thinking that it would be a good idea to get Nosee checked out,” Andy paused, “and maybe I could bring him in to your clinic?”
“Yes, of course,” Lori smiled. “Why don’t we go there now?”
“It’s Christmas morning and I don’t want to impose ...” he explained.
“Not a problem at all,” Lori interrupted. “It will be my Christmas present to you and Nosee.”
After getting into their cars and leaving the train station, Andy followed Lori to her vet clinic.
Lori unlocked the front door of the clinic and they went in. Andy noticed the simple and cheery decor of the waiting area. Photos of pets adorned the walls. A small green Christmas tree was on the counter and all the ornaments were animal related.
“This is really nice,” Andy complimented as he looked at the tree.
“Thanks,” Lori replied. “Some ornaments represent a homeless pet that has found a home and some ornaments are for pets that have passed on and gone to the Rainbow Bridge.”
“Wow,” Andy replied as he looked up at Lori. “You have a big heart for the animals.”
Andy proceeded to put Nosee up on an exam table.
Lori did a preliminary once over on Nosee.
“Now, let’s check him for a microchip,” Lori said as she waved the microchip scanner around Nosee.
“We have to make sure to check him all over for a microchip because some of the chips move around over time,” Lori explained.
“No chip,” she confirmed.
Andy watched as Lori examined Nosee’s ears and teeth.
“I’ll draw some blood and have some tests run,” Lori explained as she looked up at Andy and smiled.
“You really seem to like what you do,” Andy smiled back.
While Lori finished up her examination, Andy looked around the small vet office. The bright and happy feeling of the surroundings brought a newfound warmth to Andy’s heart.
“OK,” Lori stated, “overall, I don’t see anything seriously wrong with Nosee. He is probably between 10 and 12 years old and has probably been on his own for a while. He has some senior dog eye issues and is partially blind but can still have a full life ahead of him. Nothing that love and attention won’t cure.”
“That’s good news,” Andy sighed with relief as he took Nosee off the table and set him on the floor.
“We will get the blood test results back in a few days,” Lori said. “In the meantime, I will call the train station where you found him and ask if they can put up a found dog sign just in case someone is missing him and is looking for him. I really think he was dumped off though. Many people dump off older pets for various reasons. So sad actually.”
“That is sad,” Andy agreed. “I don’t understand how anyone could do that.”
Lori approached Nosee who was curled up on the floor in a corner.
“Nosee, I have another Christmas present for you,” Lori smiled as she brought out a small dog bed, a new collar, and a bag of treats.
Andy grinned as Nosee looked up with his panting tongue-out-of-mouth smile.
“It’s almost 9 o’clock and it is Christmas morning,” Andy noticed as he looked at Lori.
A few moments passed as they looked at each other.
“I was wondering,” they both said to each other in unison before they stopped and giggled together, a repeat of what had happened earlier in the morning.
They both laughed.
“Why don’t you and Nosee come over to my place for a Christmas breakfast,” Lori asked. “I can’t promise anything fancy though.”
“That sounds great,” Andy accepted. “This has been one special Christmas for me.”
“Me too,” Lori added, “and I will bet it has been a good Christmas for Nosee.”
“Funny thing,” Andy said, “less than 24 hours ago, it looked like it was going to be a not-so-good Christmas when I was stranded in that train station because of the bad weather. Then, because of the bad weather I found Nosee. Next, because of Nosee I met you. This has made it a really nice Christmas.”
“I know,” Lori agreed, “meeting you and Nosee has made it a nice Christmas for me also.”
“It sounds like Nosee has rescued us both from a not-so-good Christmas,” Andy observed. “Interesting how that works.”
They put Nosee into a pet carrier and then put him in Andy's car. All three headed off to Lori’s house.
In the months to come, Andy and Lori became inseparable and fell in love. Nosee was very happy in his new home and somehow knew he was both the rescued and the rescuer.
It is now one year later, Christmas Eve, and both Andy and Lori are returning home from her tradition of a day of free vet services in a nearby town.
The clickety-clack of the train tracks was once again a hypnotic and soothing sound to both Andy and Lori as they sat together holding hands.
“One year ago, on this same train, I met you,” Andy reminisced.
“Yes, you and Nosee were sitting in this exact same seat when I was walking down the aisle and noticed you two,” Lori smiled.
“I knew there was something special about you right from the start,” Andy admitted.
“I felt the same about you,” Lori agreed.
A couple of minutes later, something caught Lori’s eyes.
“Look, there is the conductor coming down the aisle with a dog ...” Lori paused.
“That’s ... that is Nosee!” she exclaimed.
The conductor stopped next to Lori and Andy.
“Nosee has something to give you,” the conductor stated, as he handed Nosee to Lori.
“There is something attached to his collar,” Andy noticed.
Andy took the small box from Nosee’s collar and proceeded into the aisle next to Lori’s seat.
“Lori, you are the love of my life. This last year has been amazing. Sweetheart, will you marry me?” Andy asked, after getting down on one knee.
A stunned Lori paused to absorb the moment.
“YES!” she excitedly proclaimed, teary-eyed. “Yes, yes, yes.”
Andy took the ring from the box that was attached to Nosee’s collar and placed it on Lori’s finger.
The other passengers around them and the conductor were all smiles.
“How did you arrange this?” Lori asked. “They don’t usually allow dogs on the train.”
“Dog, I don’t see any dogs here,” the conductor smiled after overhearing Lori.
After they arrived at the train station, they retrieved their suitcases.
“Could I interest you in a Christmas morning breakfast?” Lori asked.
“Sounds familiar. The last Christmas morning breakfast I had was last year with you and I fell in love,” Andy smiled.
As they exited the train station, with Nosee in tow, the station’s loudspeaker made an announcement, “Merry Christmas ... and good luck Lori, Andy, and Nosee!”