Reading Messages of Hope aloud for the audiobook version proved to be an unexpectedly emotional experience for me. I wasn’t the only one choking back tears, as evidenced by the red eyes and sniffles of the sound technicians assigned by Unity World Headquarters to help me.
I had forgotten a lot of the details since I wrote my memoir, and they came flooding back to me as if I were reliving them. I recalled vividly the first time I personally felt my step daughter Susan’s presence from across the veil.
“Thanks for the check,” Susan had said in her own voice, referring to the donation Ty and I had just made in her honor to a wildlife association. We had wanted money earned from my work as a medium to support a charity Susan would have supported.
As I read her words into the microphone, I thought that we had funded numerous scholarships in Susan’s honor since that initial check, but it had been quite a while since we had donated to our animal friends.
“We need to find another animal charity,” I thought briefly as I continued narrating the text.
In the following days, I hosted a spiritual retreat on the grounds of Unity’s Headquarters where I had recorded both Messages of Hope and Wolf’s Message. The event proved to be a four-day love-fest that brought together old and new friends. Ty ran into one of those friends, Shining Light Parent and the Secretary of Helping Parents Heal, Laurie Savoie, on his way to pack our car with supplies on the final afternoon. A brief chat with Laurie revealed that she was on her way to visit a friend who runs a dog rescue in a nearby area of rural Kansas.
Later that evening, Ty did a search for the place on his laptop. Always and Furever Midwest Animal Rescue intrigued him enough to suggest that we send them a check to support their efforts. I smiled at the synchronicity, telling Ty that only a few days earlier I had thought it would be nice to support an animal non-profit with our next donation.
We had reserved Monday as a rest-and-recovery day. Together, we decided it would be fun to spend the day taking a drive into the country and present the check in person. A quick call to Laurie Savoie, and the plan became a reality. Her friend, Jen Dulski, would be happy to meet us and show us the barn where the dogs live.
I can feel Susan’s hand in what transpired on that beautiful visit. It was totally “A God-Thing.” We turned onto the long gravel driveway and passed under the tall “Ever After Farm” sign. We marveled at the little piece of heaven Jen had found when, after a personal tragedy, she moved to Kansas City in early 2017 with her two rescue dogs, Mugsy and Libby.
Determined to fulfill a dream of creating a sanctuary for elderly dogs with no place to spend their final years, Jen wasted no time in making that happen. Jen and Laurie greeted us and took us immediately to the large play yard. I felt a twinge of apprehension as twelve of the sixteen furry residents bounded toward us, but they continued on to the large play yard, acting more like puppies as they rolled in the grass and sniffed each other as dogs will do.
Jen led us toward the bright red barn where Ty and I expected to see rows of dog kennels lined up as we have seen them over the years in visits to boarding facilities and the back rooms of veterinarian offices. We could not have been more surprised at the scene that greeted us when we walked in the door.
Picture a 1960’s-style coffee shop: a large room with brightly painted, whimsical murals on the walls and numerous old mismatched, overstuffed couches placed comfortably about for visitors to simply flop down on and chill as they hang out with their friends. Now throw some soft blankets over those couches and fill in the rest of the space with lots of cozy, inviting dog beds. The thing is, these couches aren’t for the volunteers … they’re for the dogs!!! Yes, there are some kennels in case someone’s not feeling well or needs some “me-time”, but otherwise, the entire ground floor of that big red barn was just one big doggy living room.
Imagine you had been turned over to a shelter that only keeps dogs 24 hours before euthanizing them. You’ve been through a rough time, but some angel has just snatched you up and taken you from this place. You don’t know where you’re headed, and suddenly, you find yourself in puppy heaven-on-earth, surrounded by human angels who volunteer their time to take care of you. You look about in wonder until one of the other dogs whispers in your ear, “This is real. You can relax now.”
Ty and I were so touched by the scene and by the palpable feeling of love all around, that both of us had to fight back the tears. In the year since they opened, they have found homes for 200 dogs that otherwise would not be alive today. Some dogs are simply too sick to adopt. In those cases, volunteers sit with them in their final hours. No dog passes alone. All know they are loved.
We peppered Jen with questions, asking how they manage to pay for the upkeep and the numerous vet bills associated with older dogs. Jen said they rely solely on donations, as they ask for no adoption fees. They are struggling to stay afloat.
As she spoke, Ty and I exchanged wordless signals, raising our donation amount incrementally until we settled on a final number that was exponentially higher than Ty’s original suggestion the night before. There’s something about being right there with those warm tongues kissing your hand that turns a person into mush. The tithing seemed a fitting way to honor the successful conclusion of our sacred retreat at Unity Village. When we handed Jen our check, her eyes widened, and she exclaimed, “You have just saved so many lives!” I knew Susan was clapping.
I share this not so that you will think more highly of us. Our donation is just one strand in a web of love that includes Jen, the volunteers who pick up poop, feed the dogs, wash the blankets, clean the floors, and love all over the dogs. It includes the veterinarians who work for a reduced fee, and countless others I’m sure I don’t know about. I share this because we learned that the sanctuary needs $2500 per week just to stay afloat. They have ongoing expenses, they have plans to improve the facilities, and they need a van to get the bigger dogs and their large kennels back and forth to their doctors’ visits.
I promised Jen that I would tell my friends about this beautiful home she has created for the dogs that no one wanted. There are many ways to spend our hard-earned money. If this cause speaks to your heart, as it did to ours, please read more about it at https://alwaysandfurever.love , and if your index finger finds its way to the DONATE button, then you, too, will help to spread some of that love around. I don’t make it a habit to solicit funds, but in this case, I’m just following the nudges.
Firstly , God is good. Secondly, thank you Susan ! For your amazing parents Suzanne and Ty. I Love how Suzanne calls you Our Susan :)I am at a loss for words right now as I can just feel the giant web of love . I DO have to add that this started from Bubbles ….. no accident Suzanne’s W-holy You retreat started with her talking about bubbles !!!!! I asked Ty what he was doing with the bubbles as I knew they would be well used at the Sanctuary I was going to . I am blessed to be a part of this , and I am SO grateful to Suzanne and Ty for visiting with us at Jen’s Heaven in Earth for both people and dogs .
Laurie, thank you for bringing Suzanne to the barn. Thank you helping Jen spread her dream. Thanks for being a part of something so many of us truly love.
Oh my goodness! When worlds collide….… I have been following their journey on Facebook for the last year even though I live in Tulsa. I am actually from Kansas City and care deeply about animals especially the senior pets. I’ve been planning on going to your event this evening in Tulsa. So my newsfeed has been full of my local friends sharing about your event but my newsfeed is also ALWAYS full of post from always and furever, Because who doesn’t want to see all these beautiful dogs when they look at their phone?! I was confused when I saw that they had shared one of your post until I clicked the link. I absolutely love the work they do. And what a blessing you are for them. The synchronicities and the way the universe works is just magical!
Wow, Michelle! I love the synchronicity! Please introduce yourself so I can give you a hug tonight!
This is a model of what I plan to do God willing! So much gifting has come from grief. God bless you Suzanne and Ty for everything little and big things you make happen. My heart is bursting with happiness reading about this amazing home. May love fill all hearts.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful story and the opportunity to support a well deserved organization.
Thank you, for your donation, words, sharing, visiting, etc This place is truly magical…..so many of us, feel so lucky ( blessed to be a part of this wonderful Sanctuary…..) It was a prayer of mine, answered….one that I had been praying for , for a long time…not really knowing what it would be…this amazing place, not only saves lives, but has brought together a community, we have found many new friends, with whom we share a passion with….I can not begin to tell you, how many hearts Jen and A & F has touched….God is great!!