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Blog

A Hand Picked Peanut


The spring of 2006 seven volunteers went on a field trip to southern, Illinois to work in a rural shelter. One of the volunteers was Brandon Palmer, a 16-year-old, who began volunteering after his family adopted Abby, a Springer Spaniel, from Animal Education and Rescue in the winter of 2006. Little did Brandon or his family know but that trip, and a little peanut, would change the road their lives would take forever.
The Saturday we worked at the shelter we all rolled up our sleeves, prepared to help in any way we could. Shortly after arriving Brandon was looking at small sized crates stacked one on top of each other filled with puppies and small dogs, when he felt drawn to a small Chihuahua mix in one of the crates. He pulled out a ten-pound Chihuahua mix. The little dog had a cream-colored coat with a few brown patches and dark eyes. Brandon lifted the dog out of the cage and held her to him and an instant bond occurred. He turned to me and said with certainty, “this dog is coming home with me.”
But it didn’t take long to see that poor little dog had ticks covering much of her body. Brandon found tweezers and began the tedious task of pulling tick after tick from her skin. By the time he was done he counted over 100 ticks. The little dog looked at Brandon with her warm brown eyes appreciative but also sad and sick. “I’m gonna get my parents to let me foster her,” he said with determination.
“Your parents said no dogs, Brandon. I doubt you’ll convince them. They seemed pretty clear.” But I hoped he could change their minds.
“I’m going to try.” He paused and added, “I’ll get them to say yes.” That whole evening at the hotel he couldn’t get the little dog out of his mind and finally he found the courage to call his parents and plead his case. True to his determination somehow he convinced his parents to allow him to foster the dog. So on Sunday we loaded up dogs we had foster homes for, including the Chihuahua, and headed home. Brandon held the sick dog on his lap the whole way home.

When we arrived at Brandon’s house Brandon’s mom Christie came out to greet us. Looking at the dog she said, “I much prefer bigger dogs but she’s cute.” In short order they named the small dog Molly.
The Monday after our return Christie brought Molly to the vet because she was not feeling well. After some blood work Molly was diagnosed with Lyme disease, a potentially fatal disease caused from the ticks that ravished her body.
The Palmer family nursed Molly back to health. As Molly healed from her illness her adorable personality began to blossom. Unlike many Chihuahuas Molly loved everyone. She wagged her stubbed tail at anyone who gave her attention and sat contently in the lap or arms of anyone holding her.
Molly decided she was the top dog in Palmer’s house strutting her stuff, her tail swaying from side to side, butt and head held high, as she passed Abby and Cody, the two other Palmer dogs. She sometimes growled at them to remind them who’s who. Often times the Palmer dogs looked at Molly with a mixture of puzzlement and respect and ultimately allowing Molly to call the shots.
As time moved forward, as is typical of all Palmer dogs, Molly developed a nickname. Molly became Peanut, an appropriate name for a pint-sized canine. So from that time on Molly was only her formal name but Peanut was what she answered to.
Christie worked for her parents and so she was able to take Peanut to work with her every day. Peanut became a fixture at their work. Every day Peanut stood on the countertop and greeted all the visitors with her whole body wiggling with excitement. Their clients, the mailman and the deliverymen looked forward to Peanut’s friendly welcome.
As became tradition with the Palmer’s, Peanut began her volunteer work with Animal Education and Rescue. She attended educational programs in schools, entertaining and educating children of all ages. She stole the show each and every time. She also busied herself visiting residents at our local nursing home going bed-to-bed, and wheelchair-to-wheelchair spreading joy and happiness. She was a proud addition to our team.
As time moved forward Christie’s parents, especially her mom Jackie, grew to adore their little Peanut. For all the years she was married her husband David chose the dogs he really wanted and she willingly and lovingly cared for each and every one of them. But Peanut won Jackie’s heart and she decided it was time she picks out a dog.
When I heard that Christie’s parents wanted to adopt Peanut I was thrilled. It was as if they whole family enveloped the once sick dog into their lives and hearts. Also, since Christie’s parents traveled a lot Peanut would stay with the Palmer’s when her parents were gone, her home away from home.
Because of the positive experience they had fostering Peanut the Palmer’s fostered dog after dog, saving life after life. They relished the job and the whole family enthusiastically participated. Christie got more involved becoming AEAR’s treasurer and Brandon was our medical director. Christie joined our board of directors and the following summer Christie took a road trip with Becky Palmieri, another volunteer, and I to Missouri to tour rural shelters and pounds. This trip resulted in us bringing back a record of 15 dogs with us to safety. Peanut’s new mom Jackie began volunteering, the official thank you note writer of AEAR.
This past November Christie mentioned to me that Peanut was not feeling well so Jackie was taking her to the vet. Over and over again Jackie was back at the vet with Peanut, concerned because she just didn’t seem well. They could not figure out what was wrong with her. The whole family was very worried. The doctor thought it could be a residual of the lyme disease but test after test reveled nothing.
Last week Christie and I were sitting in my front hall petting foster dog Fiona’s newborn puppies when she said, “my mom’s vet is sending us to a specialty clinic for Peanut to have more tests done. It could be three things; the best scenario would be an infection from the Lyme disease. The worst would be cancer.”
“Cancer is not an option,” I said matter-of-factly, thinking back to when I first met Peanut. I knew how much this sweet dog meant to this family. Cancer is not an option, I repeated in my head.
“No,” Christie agreed, “It’s not an option.”

Yesterday I called Christie because when I had seen her earlier that day I could tell something was wrong. “Is everything okay?” I asked her.
“Peanut has leukemia,” she burst out crying. She has three months tops to live.”
“Oh my God,” I kept saying.

I thought, not this family, no way. Not this sweet little dog. A family so devoted to giving back, a dog that is a huge part of so many people’s lives. The one dog that Jackie picked out just for herself, a dog that gives her incredible joy and love; an angel and an every day wonder. Peanut carved a path for the Palmer family that led them to save so many other dogs lives and change their lives for so much the better.


For those of you now know Peanut and her generous, loving and compassionate family please, I ask all of you to keep Jackie and David in your prayers. Please pray for Christie, Carlos, Brandon and Brian Palmer. But mostly please pray for our sweet ambassador, our little angel Peanut. Can a miracle make Peanut well? I don’t know, it may or may not, but whether you are a big believer in prayers or not it can’t hurt, prayers are free.



Date: February 18, 2008
Posted By: Sandy Kamen Wisniewski


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