On a recent early morning your author was sipping coffee during a thunderstorm, the family cat and dog at his feet. Lightning struck a stone's throw away, producing a house-rattling explosion.
The cat bolted for parts unknown, leaving us to die and not showing herself again until the afternoon. But the dog, all 24 pounds of him, stormed to the door growling and barking furiously, demanding to confront what was surely a giant just outside.
This is why dogs, not cats, are man's best friend.
Dogs will stand by you at any cost. If you have to be away for a time they will wait patiently in their preferred spot, day after day, to the point of starvation, intently watching the road for any sign of your return. The day when one has to say a final goodbye to such companions is the hardest many ever face. If we loved one another the way our dogs love us, there would be peace on Earth.
This bond is one reason last week's seemingly ordinary saga about Biscuit, an Illinois family's labradoodle who wandered from the scene of a traffic accident on I-24 here, resonated with so many people. The heartbroken family stayed in Paducah and searched for days for their lost companion. In doing so they experienced what we sometimes take for granted -- Paducah's legendary capacity for kindness to strangers.
Biscuit is part of the Wilke family of Springfield. Kurt and Beth Wilke and their daughter Kate were traveling home from Nashville when the minor accident happened and their confused pet wandered away from the commotion. Beth said she became hysterical when she saw several passersby unsuccessfully try to stop the year-old dog as it headed down an exit. A Paducah police officer took pity and drove her for nearly two hours searching neighborhoods that he knew and she could not.
Unsuccessful, the family posted their plight on social media. News of their search and a photo of Biscuit also made its way into The Paducah Sun. The community responded in force, but Biscuit's tour of the city proved wide-ranging.
The young dog was first spotted at Applebee's not far from Exit 4, and later across the four lanes of Hinkleville Road at McDonald's on Coleman Road. These and subsequent leads were posted on social media. A small army of Good Samaritans searched into the morning hours in an effort to help.
The Wilkes searched also of course, on foot, and encountered many kindnesses along the way. One family invited them into their home for food, water and a respite from the heat. Another cooked a meal of fish for them.
The happy ending came Tuesday night. There had been several sightings of Biscuit on Harris Road, leading finally to the Cimarron Cove subdivision. The Wilkes went there and encountered more than 20 people searching with flashlights. Two searchers finally caught up with Biscuit and a happy reunion ensued.
The stories about Biscuit's travels and eventual rescue topped the list of best-read articles on our website. We think we understand why. One reason is that many people simply love dogs and identify. But we also think in this nation that has become so bitterly divided, stories like this one are welcome refuge.
No one who set out to help the Wilkes was concerned with their politics, what they do for a living, where they go to church or whether they go to church at all -- none of these things mattered. The Wilkes were simply strangers uniquely in need of local help, and scores of people here were happy to provide it.
This is our true and better nature. It is a happy occasion in times like these when a simple story about a lost dog reminds us of that.