Last week, Coker found us.

The girls and I were cruising along in the golf cart on a sunny afternoon. We saw a mass of blonde fur jumbled up on the water’s edge near a neighbor’s house and as we slowed to a stop to investigate, we realized there was a wet puppy barreling toward us. Before we knew it, she jumped onto our cart and she hasn’t left us since. I called all of our neighbors, called every vet in Hartsville, Facebooked her and even called the Humane Society. She’s ours. A blonde, fuzzy, Golden Retriever mix with a short tail, we call Coker. So today, while McCanless was at school, Mary Clare (who calls her Fuzzy) and I took her to the vet to make it official. After a thorough exam and all of her boosters, the vet looked up at me and said, “You have a special needs puppy here.”

What happened next, I will never be able to explain. Irony doesn’t even begin. Chance, perhaps, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Coker was certainly meant to be in our family. The vet went on to explain that we have a puppy with a CHD. “CHD stands for Congenital Heart Defect, which means she was born with her heart defect,” the vet explained as if I had never heard the words. She further explained that Coker has a very loud murmur, most likely an enlarged heart and she needs to see a specialist for an echo to determine her exact CHD. We could even feel her murmur on the outside of her chest. She rated her heart on a scale of 1 to 6, 6 being the most severe from what she could tell without an echo. She rated Coker’s CHD a 6. She referred us to an out-of-town specialist and told us that she would require heart surgery soon if we decided to take that route. Without the surgery, Coker will not live to be one. She mentioned low oxygen, but good color, possibly vomiting, aortic stenosis, etc.. It was almost as if I was in Charleston at MUSC for one of Mary Clare’s cardiology appointments.

She said that it would take a special family to care for her and that it was our decision to continue on to the veterinarian specialist or not. As I watched Mary Clare tug and pull on her leash and Coker gently nudging Mary Clare’s side playfully tickling her, I knew our decision. They share a friendship and bond that goes far beyond two little broken hearts.


Judy Brown  on March 22nd, 2011

God is so good, all the time!!! That precious puppy is blessed to have your family and vice versa.

Wendy  on March 22nd, 2011

I got shivers when I read this post. What timing! And how wonderful for Mary Clare to have a pet with a special heart too. What a connection they share already that will only deepen. Wow! They are an adorable pair!
Best of luck and hoping that the CHD is not the complex variety.

Ashleigh Hogge  on March 22nd, 2011

Tears streamed down my face as I read this post this morning. Such a wonderful story of God doing his work! To think if Mary Clare’s surgery hadn’t been postponed, the Pennington’s may have never met this precious puppy. God’s plan is perfect! Your family will continue to by in my prayers. What an amazing story you have!

aunt liz and uncle robert  on March 22nd, 2011

Kerri, your heart just keeps getting bigger and bigger. You have so much love to share. It’s no wonder that Coker found you. I can’t wait to meet her.

jenmarielincoln  on March 22nd, 2011

OH MY GOSH- I got chills reading this. What an unbelievable story. WOW!

Alli  on March 22nd, 2011

No way. That is just incredible and made me cry this morning! WOW. This puppy was meant to be in your care and to be MC’s companion!

Sissy - aka Sherrill  on March 22nd, 2011

MC can take care of Coker while you take care of her…..what an unbelievable story – and they both are blonde with brown eyes. Kerri, you are an angel.

Beverley Dodson  on March 22nd, 2011

Of course Coker found her way to your family. Perfect plan from the higher power!

chaarlow  on March 22nd, 2011

That story just took my breath away! I am just in tears. God is so amazing!!

Erica May  on March 22nd, 2011

I love it~!!! They were ment to be!!
Emerson prayed today for them both and their upcoming surgeries. She said she needs to come to the hospital to show MC how to do everything 🙂

Misty  on March 22nd, 2011

What an amazing story my friend. I am actually sitting here crying out loud with a smile on my face. You will have to tell me who they referred you to because my Buddy went to the Upstate Vet Specialists up here in their oncology department. Hope to talk to you soon!

Sarah Leech  on March 22nd, 2011

What a beautiful story!!! I love the name Coker & exactly how this story unfolds!!! What a blessing this puppy will be to your family & that your family will be to the puppy!! Praying for you all as you look ahead to MC’s surgery & Coker’s. Hugs & Kisses to the Penningtons!

Rebecca  on March 23rd, 2011

Perfect! Love those blodies with brown eyes! God placed both of them in your amazing family!

Shannon Carter  on March 23rd, 2011

Wow, I’m in tears! What a prefect pair!

Lauren Way  on March 24th, 2011

So sweet. Coker was certainly meant to be a Pennington!

TerriWoodham  on March 24th, 2011

Perfect puppy for my wonderful little family… just more to love for all of us. We WILL find a way to help Coker, just as Coker found her way to you!

wanda  on June 1st, 2012

I was searching the internet for Larry bird and Magic Johnson after seeing their interview on Letterman. I came across the picture of your dog and little girl.They look like sisters lol. The look in their eyes, expression and the feeling that comes across from the photo shows a winning personality in each. It is one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen honestly.I grew up with dogs and always felt they have the spirit of a child. Your story was so touching and it does seem like this dog was meant to come into your life. These two were born with “special” hearts and so you all have been blessed. They are obviously so lucky to be a part of your family where they get the love and care they need for these special hearts. Thank you so much for sharing your story and from one heart to another I wish you and your lovely family the best.