From the article:
When Michael Vaudreuil’s college classmates were in the library studying together at night, he was wiping down chalkboards and picking up their trash. But this weekend, donning a black cap and gown, he stood with them not as a 54-year-old college custodian but as a fellow undergraduate.
In 2010, my doctor told me to buy a funeral plaque because I would need one within the next 5 years. But I am still here because a shelter dog saved my life.
When people see a photo of who I was 5 years ago, they can’t and often can’t believe it’s me. My weight had crept up to 340 pounds. My blood pressure was through the roof. Super high cholesterol. I had Type-2 diabetes and I was taking over $1,000 of medications a month. And I just felt really uncomfortable around other people. I became separated from society and I just stopped living.
I went on a business trip. You know how small airplane seats are. I could barely into one and basically it spilled over both sides. They had to delay the flight because they didn’t have a seat belt extension that fit me. There was a gentleman next to me and he just looked at me in complete disgust. He goes “I am going to miss my connection because you’re too fat.” That really was my bottom point. That’s the point that I decided that you know, I am either going to die or I have to do something.
I looked in the phone book and I found a nutritionist near me. One of the first thing she asked me to do is to adopt a shelter dog. It will force me to go outside. It will force me to become more socially interactive so I went to the local shelter and I remember telling the lady “I would like an obese middle-aged dog so that I would have something in common with him.” When I walked into the room, we both looked at each other like a look of “really?” I took him home that night. Neither of us knew what to expect. And over a period of time, we really formed an inseparable bond and one that I’ve never really experience with another person or animal or anybody. We began walking for at least a half hour a day everyday. And over the course of a year just by changing what I ate and walking with Petey, I lost about 140 plus pounds. Everything about my life improved. I got off all meds. I no longer have Type-2 diabetes. Petey also lost about 25 pounds so we did it together. It was a miracle.
So I read over Petey’s paperwork when I adopted him. And it turns out he was left alone in a back yard. Nobody played with him. He had arthritis and all kinds of rashes. His skin was itching all the time. He was wondering what ever happened to him. He gone from being in a situation like I was where he didn’t really have friends and he didn’t know anybody and really became a proud dog. Beyond unconditional love, Petey taught me absolute loyalty. He looked at me in every sense as though I was the greatest person on the planet. I decided that I wanted to be the person who he thought I was.
One of the things I dreamed of doing was running a full marathon and he looked at me like I can do it and I went out and did it. This entire process brought me out of my shell and made me a different person.
I knew that he was getting old and his time was coming. They discovered a really large cancerous growth on his spleen and there was really nothing they could do. I knew that he was going to die. I just laid with him on the floor. He just looked at me and I could tell that the life has just passed out of him. And that was the end. And I just sat there and I held him. I loved him so much. I just was so sad. And you know, I am still not over it. About six months later, after a race, suddenly just came into my mind – just drive over to the shelter right now and I did. There was a dog that had been put into the adoption pen four minutes earlier. His photo wasn’t on the wall. He wasn’t on the website. And I just looked at him and he looked at me and was like: “Dude, let’s get out of here.”
Jake is a completely different dog. Jake loves to play and we started training and he now runs 10 mile distances with me and we’re going to do our first half marathon together. He is the best running buddy I can possibly have. So really thanks to Petey, I wake up every day wanting to be the best possible person I can possibly be. He completely transformed me into a different person. I think about it now. Did I rescue him or did he rescue me?
You know having this vantage point from space, we can see the effects of our presence on Earth. There are no political borders when you look down at the planet. So it does look like we are all part of one big team. It never gets old looking at the Earth. The Earth is a very beautiful place.
Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.
Now, I’m gonna close with this, and I think it’s the most important thing that we need to understand. Everybody’s praying for me and my family, which is right. But let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well. And we have no ill will toward that family. In my house, we have a sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard. And that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family, and we as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family because they grieve as well. So let’s not lose sight of what’s important. God will work this out. My wife is in heaven. God loves us. God is love. And when we walk away from this place today, let’s celebrate because my wife is where we all need to be. And I’m envious of that. But I’ve got five crumb-snatchers that I need to deal with.
I love you guys for taking time out of your day to celebrate my wife. We didn’t lose her. When you lose something, you can’t find it. I know exactly where my wife is. I’ll miss holding her hand. I’ll miss talking with my wife.
I love you guys. I hope I get a chance to hug and shake a hand and give a kiss on the cheek. But let’s keep what’s important at the forefront. Thank you.