by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D.
A few days after the New Year in 2014, Laurie Boukas of Richland, Washington, was walking her two Border Collies, Lucy and Connor, when she saw a Pontiac Trans Am drive by. Laurie, who had just moved to Richland a few weeks before with her husband, Nick, saw the car turn around and drive by again. On the third pass, Laurie was understandably alarmed. Then the car pulled over.
“I saw this older gentleman waving at me to come to the car,” she said. She moved slightly closer when he called out to her. Then the conversation turned curious. “He asked me if I wanted another Border Collie and that he’d found one that has two broken legs.”
Two days earlier on January 2, Frank Story and his son, Franklin Jr., were on their way back to Richland from Seattle on Interstate 82 just east of Yakima when they saw a dog running across the highway. Just as Frank was thinking to himself that there was not enough time for the dog to get to the other side, it was struck by a car. “
It was hit at full freeway speed,” says Frank.
His son Franklin insisted they stop and look for the dog. They couldn’t find her right away, but Franklin did not want to give up. They kept looking and Franklin finally spotted her in a drainage ditch.
They drove her to Dr. Jim Benson (’69 DVM) in the Tri-Cities. Dr. Benson recommended Frank take her to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The only trouble was, she didn’t have an owner to pay for the care. Frank went to work to find the dog’s owner.
“I made several hundred phone calls over several days,” says Frank. He made calls around the state to police, animal shelters, humane societies, rescue facilities, radio stations, and newspapers.
One of the shelters told him that WSU had a program that offered financial assistance to ownerless dogs. Frank applied to the Good Samaritan Fund* and received the good news the next day. “Hearing we got the grant re-energized me,” says Frank. “I was very impressed by how quickly they got back to me.”
“We were so impressed with the facility and how we were treated. It is a wonderful school and hospital.”
But he was losing hope about finding the owner and felt he’d exhausted all his options. It was then he made the decision to stop looking for the dog’s original owner and decided to find her a new one. On that lucky day when Frank saw Laurie and her two Border Collies, everything changed.
“I tried to explain the situation to Laurie without alarming her,” says Frank. He had a couple of Dr. Benson’s business cards and handed one to her. Dr. Benson just happened to also be Laurie’s veterinarian.
Laurie took the card and went to visit the dog at Dr. Benson’s office. She fell in love with her immediately. “When I saw her she was so sweet,” says Laurie. “Her legs were in splints, she was in pain, but she just kept wagging her tail.”
Although they had just made an expensive move from Colorado, Laurie knew they needed to help this dog, even if they couldn’t keep her.
“Dr. Sellon came out and greeted us when we arrived in Pullman,” she says. And that made them feel right at home. “We were so impressed with the facility and how we were treated. It is a wonderful school and hospital.”
Surgery was scheduled for that day, January 8. Over the next couple of months, Laurie made two more trips back to Pullman for follow up appointments after the surgery. Once the bandages were off about eight weeks later, they introduced her to the other dogs. “They all got along beautifully,” she says.
“I wasn’t ready to let go of her.”
So they named her Melle, which rhymes with Nellie, and means honey in Greek. Because she was so sweet, she says.
Today, Frank, Laurie, and Melle meet and go for a walk once a week. Frank brings Melle treats. Frank says he cannot conceive of a more loving home than the one Melle is in now.
“The dog is a wonderful miracle that has enriched so many lives,” says Frank. But he says that it was the Good Samaritan program that made it all possible.
“The larger miracle is that so many things had to happen and none would have happened without the WSU program,” says Frank. “It was a miracle situation every step of the way.”
*Funds received from the Good Samaritan Fund helped pay for about one-third of Melle’s medical expenses.
Learn how you can support the Good Samaritan program and help dogs like Melle.