By SEAN DIETRICH
With all the important problems going on in the world — the war in Ukraine, political upheavals and Oscar Award winners assaulting each other on live television — I’d like to tell you a few things that happened last week that you might not have heard about.
Such as Janice’s dog, Freddy Fender. Freddy went missing last Thursday in McLennan County, Texas. Janice printed up flyers, she went door to door, she asked people to keep an eye out. She prayed. She cried. She camped in her car, hoping to spot Freddy.
Then, on a whim, she visited her priest, who had an idea.
“Cook bacon,” suggested the padre.
“It was brilliant,” Janice told me. “My priest said the smell of bacon naturally attracts dogs.”
Leave it to the Catholics.
That same evening, her priest came over to help. He stood outside her house, frying fatback on a Coleman camp stove and using a welcoming voice, saying, “Here, Freddy, Freddy!”
Come to find out, when a priest fries bacon in a suburban area, it does more than attract dogs. It also attracts middle-aged dads, neighborhood children, woodland creatures, feral cats, hitchhikers, escaped convicts and members of Congress. In a few minutes, Janice’s priest was the most popular human being in nine city blocks.
He cooked one package of bacon and it worked. In a pivotal moment that can only be called “cinematic,” a slightly overweight, 19-pound pug came trotting out of the woods, heading toward the smell of hickory-smoked Roman Catholicism.
“We call Freddy the ‘Prodigal Pug,’” remarked the padre.
Meanwhile, over in Charlotte, North Carolina, a kid named Ryan was given a good medical report.
This past year has been traumatic for his family, and the pediatric oncology treatments have been pure misery. Still, after months of medical hell, the therapy has worked.
As of last week, Ryan was given the all-clear by his doctors. Ryan’s family wept so hard that they forgot to eat.
The next morning, when Ryan’s family awoke, it was to the sound of a noisy air compressor thrumming in the backyard. When Ryan’s dad looked out his window, a few neighbors were erecting a bouncy house in Ryan’s yard to celebrate, unannounced.
Another surprise came in the form of more unannounced cars arriving in the driveway. Soon, the downstairs was alive with the voices of unexpected visitors, throwing an impromptu party. Hundreds stopped by to wish Ryan well.
“A lot of people had been praying for him,” said Ryan’s mother. “It’s been a long journey for us all.”
Ryan’s dad spent an entire 12 hours jumping in the bouncy house with his children. Ryan’s dad has an appointment with an orthopedic knee specialist next Wednesday.
At the same time, over in Redding, California, a young woman named Alejandra had just left a store and was walking home when she realized she was being followed by a bearded man. Her follower kept getting closer; she kept walking faster.
She became so concerned that she called her mother. Her mother told her to call the police, but Alejandra decided that (a) she was not going to call for help because (b) she used to run track in high school and could probably still run a mile in under six.
So the young woman tore into an Olympian sprint.
“My legs have never ached like that,” she recalls.
After running for what felt like fifteen years, Alejandra turned to look behind her. She was out of breath, doubled over and her face was purple from oxygen debt. That’s when she saw the young man still chasing her. He wasn’t giving up.
When he got closer, Alejandra struck a fighting stance and announced that she was about to detach the young man’s head from his neck with her bare hands.
The man shouted, “Please, don’t hurt me, ma’am! I’m just trying to return your credit card! You left it back at the store!”
Then the young man presented Alejandra her card, whereupon he limped away, massaging his sore hamstrings and cussing a blue streak.
Which takes us to Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where a group of second-graders led by 7-year-old Lucinda had an idea for raising money to aid Ukrainian refugees. The second-graders were mostly girls, although one boy was involved. His name was Mark.
“It was my mom who made me help,” said 7-year-old Mark. “She really gave me no choice.”
The kids held a bake sale. Lucinda set up card tables in front of her house and all her friends made cookies and cinnamon buns. The kids earned enough money that they were invited to hold another bake sale in a local church.
This time, the ingredients were donated from a local charity and many other kids got involved. Altogether the children raised nearly four grand for Ukrainian refugees.
“I pray for all those kids in Ukraine,” said Lucinda. “I hope they know we care about them over here in America.”
Said Mark: “My cookies turned out super weird, and they tasted like plastic.”
Well, I’m out of room here or I would keep going. I could tell you about the man who dove in front of an oncoming SUV to save the life of a 5-year-old; about the guy who received a new kidney from his school principal; about the young woman who traveled across 10 U.S. states to rescue a feral dog; or about the man who built a small house for a homeless single mother using his own two hands and his personal checking account.
But I’ll save all that for another time because right now the padre is cooking bacon.