Last week (before the ice storm that shut us in and the Valentine’s Day earthquake that shook us up) Piper was rescued from a storage shed where he had been locked up by members of Dillon Doskey’s gang.

Piper was immediately recognized by Dr. Bagton when farmer Fletcher’s farm hand, Alfredo, carried him, nearly unconscious, into his veterinary clinic. Shortly thereafter Bill’s bike skidded to a stop at the office door! The sight of his faithful friend, lethargic and being treated for dehydration with intravenous fluids, made Bill happy and sad all at once. Piper had been found but he was not in good condition. Reading the worried look on Bill’s face, Dr. Bagton said, “Don’t worry Bill. He’ll be right as rain in no time. He just needs some rest and the fluids I am already giving him. You’ll be able to take him home with you tonight.”

It did not take Sheriff Allan long to discover the identity of the boy Piper bit as he was being dognapped. As suspected, Sandy Clay’s emergency room had seen only one dog bite victim over the last week. Surprisingly, the young boy quickly confessed to being involved in both Piper’s disappearance and the theft at the Methodist church. With little pressure he told Sheriff Allan the names of several of the other boys and by the end of the week most of them had been identified by Pastor Johnston as the boys seen running away with the choir’s stolen purses. All the boys involved were eventually sentenced to several months of community service and mandatory attendance, with their parents or guardians, at a rehabilitation course for juvenile delinquents.

After completing community service and the rehabilitation course, Dillon Doskey’s parents sent him to a center for troubled youth in Fargo, North Dakota. He eventually earned a GED (General Equivalency Diploma) there and later joined the Army where he was stationed at Fort Irwin, California in the Mojave Desert. He never returned to Sandy Clay.

The gang who had hoped to establish itself in Sandy Clay, abandoned their efforts and, after defacing the town’s mural hand painted on the side of the library with graffiti, moved on to more promising territory.

Sheriff Allan proposed marriage to Coretta and, as Rhett ended his year as a rising 8th grader at Whitman Academy, he sat in the front row pew of Mt. Zion Pentecostal Church with his best friend Bill and Bill’s mom Lynn, as his grandmother changed her name from Brown to Allan in one of Sandy Clay’s most widely attended weddings! Not long after that special day another momentous occasion occurred in Rhett’s life when the adoption proceedings were completed and his name also changed from Brown to Allan.

Piper grew to adult size and matured as an intelligent, protective and adventurous companion. Together he, Bill and Rhett enjoyed many memorable moments. But, as winter turned to spring, visits from Sanford’s brother Huntington and his wife Pam increased as did emergency trips to the hospital and home visits from Dr. T. Alexander and his team of home health professionals. (To be continued…)

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