May 8, 2003 at 2:32 AM CDT - Updated June 20 at 2:46 PM
Twister Takes Jackson Dog on an Amazing Journey By: Kate Scott
When Bev Niswonger found an Australian Shepherd on the Jackson courthouse lawn early Wednesday morning, she figured the dog had been through the storms the night before. But she had no idea that seven-year old Sweet Pea had been inside the Happy Tails Doggy Daycare five blocks away, when a tornado wiped the building off its foundation and left it in pieces.“She was shaking and seemed lost,” Niswonger tells Heartland News.“But other than that she was fine.”
Not knowing Sweet Pea had been found, Happy Tails workers like Bobbi Mize were frantically combing through the rubble for their sole overnight boarder.“My main concern was the dog,” Mize tells Heartland News.“I didn't care where the building went.I just wanted the safety of the dog, because that's what we do. They're the most important things here. So we immediately starting searching for her…” Mize says she found pieces of Sweet Pea’s crate in a pile of rubble more than 100 feet away from the building’s foundation.But of course, there was no sign of Sweet Pea.
Since Bev Niswonger had no idea that search was going on, and she didn’t know whom the dog belonged to, she decided to take the lost Australian Shepherd to a local vet's office.“I took her out to the Jackson Veterinary Clinic,” says Niswonger.“And as soon as we got there...the owner was there!”
In a bizarre twist of fate, Sweet Pea’s owner, Jim Tyler, just happened to be at the vet's office picking up his cat.Tyler and his wife Seiko had just returned from vacation, and had no idea that Sweet Pea was even missing!“We thought she was just safe and sound, because she was down in a big steel building,” says Tyler.“But the back door of the vet’s office opens up and this little white head sticks its head out and starts looking at me. And I thought, ‘My god, that dog is marked just like our dog Pea!’”Niswonger then told Tyler that the dog wasn’t hers, but had simply turned up lost.Tyler gave the dog another close look.“And he said, ‘Well, that’s my dog!’” Niswonger repeats with a smile.“You could see the tears in his eyes,” she tells Heartland News.“He was so proud to see her.It still gives me goose bumps thinking about it.”
After a happy reunion, Tyler drove Sweet Pea over to Happy Tails, to report the good news to worried daycare workers. And you might say he was stunned by what he saw.“When I saw the building, my stomach did fall in,” Tyler confesses.“There was no building and there were no walls. It looked like somebody just wadded a piece of paper up and threw it over the edge of the field there.”
No one can explain how Sweet Pea made it out of the mess without a scratch, or how she ended up with the woman who would take her directly to her owner. But everyone's thankful for the small series of miracles.“It was like she was dropped here for a purpose, for me to find her,” says Niswonger, gesturing to the courthouse lawn.“It was meant to be.”Jim Tyler can’t help but agree.“We were more than happy to have her, you can believe that!She's our sweetheart.”