Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A NetPosse Christmas Story

A NetPosse Christmas Story
Email, Santa, and Miracles.
By Debi Metcalfe

When a horse owner awakes on a beautiful day just weeks before Christmas to find their cherished horse missing, instead of the joy of the season filling their spirit their heart is broken. After more than a dozen years working missing horses cases I know that bad things happen as often on a holiday as they do every day. But good things happen, too.

Let me tell you the NetPosse Christmas story of 2010, beginning on Friday morning, December 10th..

Early that morning, Shay Cantrell awoke to find her dreams of festive Christmas preparation shattered. Sometime during the night Sonny, a three year-old palomino Haflinger -Morgan gelding went missing from his pasture. No one could explain how Shay’s beloved golden boy Sonny had disappeared. There were no hoofprints found leaving the property.

Stolen Horse International came into existence because one day in 1997 I was in the same circumstances as Shay. Our beloved gray mare, Idaho, went missing. Feelings of victimization, desperation, and helplessness piled on to my loss and consumed my life until Idaho was home again.

Two days after Sonny disappeared I received an email, subject line “Help Missing Horse.” NetPosee.com volunteers began reaching out to Shay Cantrell and her family before my own email note was even sent. One volunteer, Cynthia, told her about Stolen Horse International, NetPosse.com.

All Shay Cantrell wanted for Christmas was Sonny safely back home in his pasture. She filed a report with NetPosse.com but couldn’t pay the fee until after Christmas. Volunteer Angela Kirby, our Executive Coordinator, had been working with Shay since connecting with her on Craigs List. Everything was in place at NetPosse.com but payment.

Our story has plenty of victims as well as an unsung network of caring folks working to help Sonny get home. Stolen Horse International was founded because of the kindness people showed my husband and me when Idaho was stolen from our pasture. My miracle is replayed every day when we see our beautiful gray mare in her pasture. Since Idaho came home I have worked daily to share my miracle with other horse owners.

As much as I wanted to get Shay’s alert out, no organization can run on purely emotional fuel. We had the report and photos of Sonny, but no fee. I sat at the computer desperately wanting to send out the alert, but without payment fee I couldn’t. Product sales, donations, contributions, and report fees keep Stolen Horse International in existence. Keeping up the search for missing horses and paying the light bill is a bigger challenge than I ever expected, and I couldn’t start making exceptions now.

As I was trying to work through my frustration another email appeared. A NetPosse volunteer wrote, “Send Shay a message and tell her it is paid by Santa. Then let me know how I need to pay you and I will pay it for her. Please call Shay and tell her everything is OK and done. Merry Christmas to you and your family.”

As fast as North Pole elves we set to work. News of Sonny’s disappearance went to Facebook and Twitter, to thousands on our mailing list and to the many other contacts we have developed over the years.
When Shay received her email with links to Sonny’s web page, his flyer, and notice of alerts being sent she emailed back, “But I don’t have the $25 to pay for the posting till the first.”

With tear-filled eyes and beaming smile I typed my email reply to Shay on December 16th. “Santa Claus came early and someone paid it for you.J” By return email Shay shared her incredulous gratitude and made a commitment to donate the amount of her fee after Christmas. Two days later Shay emailed me again.

“I just wanted to let you know that we just went to pick up our Sonny. A rancher had seen a flier in a gas station (I printed off several fliers that you made for us and put them around town) He saw Sonny in the woods and called the sheriff immediately. Sonny was about 10 miles away, and he lost a lot of weight! But thanks to you and your site we have our Sonny home safe and before the holidays. Thank you so much for every thing you have done for us!! - "No heaven can heaven be, if my horse isn't there to welcome me.” -
Bradly & Shay

After Sonny had been found I had the opportunity to talk with Shay and learned a bit more about her ordeal. I asked her how she felt when she discovered Sonny missing.

“We were all devastated! Our hearts sank and I felt sick. I thought he was gone for good, that someone had taken him. There were no hoof prints leaving our property. We were worried that we would never see him again. It affected my 4 year old daughter the most; she couldn't understand why Sonny was gone.” she replied. “Sonny was missing for eight long miserable days.”

When asked about Sonny’s recovery Shay told me they dropped everything the moment they received the call to bring their golden horse home. “We are so excited that we got him back. We wouldn’t have found him if it wasn’t for Stolen Horse International. The support we received from everybody is fantastic - so many prayers and people who care and try to fill you up with warmth and positive thoughts. This Christmas is a miracle. Our family is complete again. And Santa, whoever you are, you made all of our Christmas wishes come true.”

Just like I did, Shay Cantrell’s family got their own Christmas miracle when Sonny came home. Sometimes the smallest gesture can lead to a miracle. As soon as I knew Sonny was recovered and home again I sent an email to our own “Santa.”

Cynthia, this was the best $25 gift you ever gave. Merry Christmas, and never underestimate the power of one… this time the one was you!

Cynthia emailed back that it was also the best Christmas gift to her as well. After speaking to Shay at the beginning Cynthia believes a voice from heaven asked her to pay the fee. Cynthia’s email read, “Just goes to show that when the Angels give us a message we need to listen. I only played a small part and wouldn’t have been able to help her if it was not for SHI. We were all in this together. Merry Christmas to all of us.”

Rather than send an email, I’ll take this opportunity to reveal Santa’s identity to Shay.

“Shay, you’ve already spoken with “Santa” and sent her a thank you note for telling you about Stolen Horse International. Your own secret Santa is Cynthia Lawhon, a fellow Texan. Whether Cynthia is your angel or just a special woman who listens when angels speak, now you know who has been there with you all along.

So many people were involved in bringing this one golden horse home for Christmas. There was Sonya and our notification team, Angela who prepared both the report and the flyer, and Michelle who posted the flyer to hundreds of list groups. There were also thousands of NetPosse volunteers who received our alerts, and the folks on our mailing list who post the flyers and send them on to their friends.

That’s our NetPosse Christmas story for 2010. Let me add that I am a believer. I believe in Santa Claus, at least the spirit of goodness that is Santa Claus. Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love see it bring out the best in people.

The 1897 New York Sun editorial, “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” is one of my favorite Christmas pieces and sums up the blessing received by Shay and Sonny, our volunteers, Cynthia, and me. May you also be blessed by this short excerpt;

“He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know they abound and give to your life it highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were not Santa Claus!”

Merry Christmas Everyone!
Debi Metcalfe

Special thanks go to Lynn Baber, www.AmazingGrays.us for her assistance with this story.

© 2010 Debi Metcalfe - Permission to publish is understood as long as origination and contact information forDebi Metcalfe is left intact. 

Note: I know there is some spacing problems between the paragraphs. I could not get them to line up right in this software. Sorry.