I never got the chance to meet Vincent in real life, but I got to know the story and the humans behind him.
A couple of years ago, on a rainy day outside in the area of Napoli, Italy, was I waiting for a woman that was coming all the way from Los Angeles, USA. She stood by the train station in her very nice designer clothes. . I felt a little uncomfortable shoving her into my big SUV together with two small children, tons of dog-hair and all the smells associated with animal rescue. My SUV had become one of the most important vehicles in Napoli, an Animal Rescue SUV.
Tracey had a very relaxed attitude and a huge heart. The days she spent with us involved our work in horrible shelters, and she jumped right in as one of the team... Never did we so much as hear her sigh. The moment I knew that she was true to her heart and not merely empty words, was when she spoke about her family. Even about her ex-husband who also had an enormous heart. He even had rescued a fish – now their “Fred” --- from being abandoned.
She spoke highly about their four legged kids that they had together. Her eyes sparkled when she talked about them, even if they nibbled on a shoe or two, or had an accident inside. It was what would be expected of a family member. Vincent! We smiled at the Italian name and here was “mom” in Napoli. We shared the passion for senior dogs and Vinnie was one older gentleman with a young mind. He even loved pasta!
Six months ago was he diagnosed with cancer. The best humane veterinarian clinic in LA, who knew and loved him dearly and always thought he was a very happy fellow, made the diagnosis. They loved him as much as Tracey and Craig did, him with the tail that tapped out his happiness in Morse Code--- “thump, thump, thump”--- when he walked in.
This morning, as we prepared to depart from Germany on another mission to Napoli, we received a note from Vinnie’s parents that he was now on the other side: “After a fantastic 36 hours of begging, running, barking, snuggling and all that he loved, all of a sudden he just plummeted. The kind thing to do was send him on his way. He was so at peace when he left. Thank you for your kind thoughts, they meant so much to me and him. God bless him.”
AWL and my family’s relationship and friendship with Tracey and Craig have lasted and the passion for Italy’s stray dogs has grown. Tracey and her ex-husband Craig have been enormously generous in sponsoring AWL, our missions and hospice (and shelter with food). And, now Vinnie’s Rescue AWL VAN will be driving around on Napoli’s streets and through some of the roughest neighborhoods, making differences and saving lives in his memory. He will never be forgotten. His van will carry on his spirit to less fortunate dogs.
36 hours ago the Vinnie Rescue VAN was parked outside my house. It was brought to my home so I can drive it down to Napoli tomorrow.
Vinnie will l forever shine a light leading us to the strays and less fortunate animals, those who have thus far not enjoyed a life of snuggles, playing and love --- only the constant struggle to survive. . As I drive, I cannot see him in my rear-view mirror, but I can hear “thump thump” and feel his content confident smile.
Let’s save lives! That’s Amore