The Miracle Dog Captures America's Hearts
The words from a grieving widower, Dr. Wellington Chen, sum up the loss of his beloved wife and the survival of his loyal dog, Barney.
"I think it's miraculous he survived and his master didn't," said Dr. Chen.
Barney won our hearts for the way he popped up out of nowhere far out on the Gulf of Mexico, and was rescued by this vacationer who had no idea that a short time earlier, the dog survived an hit-and-run accident that killed his owner, Donna Chen.
Donna and Barney had been jogging along a road on an island off Sarasota, Florida when police say a drunk driver ran over Donna and barely missing Barney.
Donna's sister, Diane, says that the Chen family got Barney in the first place because their previous dog was killed by a car. "I think he was traumatized by the whole thing," said Diane.
"With that tragedy in mind, they thought they'd get another puppy, he went everywhere with Donna," said Diane.
Barney's feet are bruised, possibly scraped by barnacles during his adventure at sea, but that's not the worst of his pain.
"He misses Donna terribly. He cries like a baby," said Diane.
Donna Chen was a registered nurse, a devoted mother of three and a close friend, Collette Macphail.
What is believed to be the last telephone message left by Donna to Collette, who always called her "Don- Don" went like this:
"Hi Collette, it's Don-Don. I'm just going over to the mall to get my eyebrows done. Give me a call, I'm on my cell phone. Just going to run around with the kids a little bit today, and maybe I'll take a jog. I wondered what you were doing. Have a good one! Bye!"
A short time later, she went jogging with Barney, and got hit by the car.
The driver of the car, 22-year-old Blake Talman, is charged with DUI manslaughter.
Macphail says, "It just shows how things change in just an instant."
Dr. Chen, an emergency room physician, is convinced that his wife's spirit endures and that it had something to do with Barney's miraculous rescue at sea.
"Perhaps my wife looking down and gave him a little extra push in the right direction so he could survive," said Dr. Chen.