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Campground Angels

It was a perfect evening at Grand Isle State Park – warm sun, bright blue sky, chipmunks and squirrels scurrying through the woods, the smell of campfires, tents and RVs in place, sounds of kids playing, and people out for their night time walks. There is something special about exploring and reconnecting with nature. This night was no exception. My daughter and I ventured off to investigate wildlife near the lake. As a lady and her golden retriever passed us Elizabeth grabbed my hand, quickly moved closer, and kept her eyes on the big dog. Pulling the dog’s leash shorter, the lady seemed to understand why - this seven year old was scared. Elizabeth and I knew.

Earlier in the summer, a blood curdling scream that led to an emergency trip to the doctor’s office and sixty-two stitches had changed our family’s summer camping plans. Our daughter had been bitten by a German shepherd that she and her friend had played with many times. The bite just missed her eye. Per doctor’s orders, Elizabeth spent a quiet few weeks out of the sun and heat, and continued applying vitamin E to the stitches.

The next morning while watching Elizabeth on the playground swing from our camper window, we also noted the lady and her golden retriever returning to their site beyond us. The lady stopped upon seeing Elizabeth, tied the dog to a post, and joined her on the swing set. Elizabeth’s eyes remained glued on the dog as he waited patiently for his owner. Within 30 minutes Elizabeth was facing her fear of dogs. She cautiously moved toward the golden retriever, and slowly reached out to touch the golden fur while the lady, my husband, and I watched.

If this encounter with the lady and her beautiful five-year-old golden retriever had not happened, Elizabeth could still be petrified of dogs. There was a reason.

- Rebecca Mackin

A wooded wooden trail in summer
Photo provided by Vermont State Parks, Grand Isle State Park


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