Funny how situations in life can slip up on you and turn your feelings completely around.
Sometimes it's downright tragic.
It began one morning as the sun had barely begun to rise. I was tired and prone to wanting to sleep a little bit longer because a friend, a legendary Hollywood stunt man and actor, had called and kept me up until almost 2 a.m., riveting me with the kind of stories that only he can tell. Even a good night's sleep will not lure me away from a great story.
My idea for sleep quickly retreated as I heard crying outside. It sounded like an animal in distress, probably one of the cats. I stumbled out of bed, turned off the inside alarm, threw open the French doors and began to search outside. But it was the detective Sherlock Holmes - known to you as Dixie Dew - who found her.
A somewhat fat little puppy about 8 weeks old trembled as I scooped her up into my arms, sat down in a rocking chair on the back porch and cradled her against my shoulder, rocking and comforting her for about 20 minutes. I noticed a tiny amount of blood on her side but I could not see any puncture wounds in her thick hair.
When the hour grew later, I called my dear neighbors, Doug and Deborah, to enlist their help in finding where she belonged.
I described her and ended by saying, "Bless her heart, she's the ugliest little thing you ever saw."
We hung up, they began their sleuthing and I called my precious vet on her cell phone. (Important note here: Whether you are my hairdresser, congressman or vet, you do not ever want to give me your cell phone number because I will use it.)
"She's scared to death and I want to make sure she's not hurt. Can I bring her in?"
"Absolutely," she replied. "And if you don't find where she belongs, we'll help you find a good home for her."
A short time later, Doug and Deborah showed up and I met them on the back porch.
"We can't find anyone who's lost a puppy," they reported as Doug leaned down to peer at the wee creature in the kennel, set on the porch swing.
Doug frowned. "Are you sure that's a dog?"
I shook my head. "I'm thinking it could be either a koala bear or a coyote."
Since it was so ugly, I was betting on coyote rather than koala.
After much debate, we decided the possibility of it being a coyote puppy was great. Doug pulled out his cell phone and dialed a friend who runs a wildlife preserve.
"If it's a coyote, he'll take it," Doug reported. Big relief. A home for the pup.
Now, here's where that twist comes in. Brandon, who works for me, had been on the hunt for fierce coyotes for several months. When he house sat for me, he would sit on the back porch with his shotgun, waiting for a pack to arrive. He even left a shotgun for me and taught me how to use it but, alas, Brandon and I had never taken down a menacing coyote.
But I was worried about them. I feared the loss of Dew or one of the cats to their unmerciful chops. One day, I had barely saved Dew from two of them, who ran off when they saw me. Neighbors had lost cats and cows to them.
All babies, though, are precious. Even the ugly ones. I had fallen in love with the enemy.
It turned out to be a seriously injured coyote that was dying and beginning to enter into the throes of a miserable death. I cried as I had to make the choice to give her relief and peace.
Yep, life can be funny. Sometimes sadly so.
Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of the new book, "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter