In a world where so many dogs don’t have a family, one lucky Mississippi pooch has found himself with two—but both families agree that they’re the lucky ones.
It was a Sunday in early October when Toni Lizana found a sweet little Schnauzer (who she later named Dixson) in the outdoor pen where she keeps her hunting dogs. “I came home from church that Sunday and he had gotten in the dog pen outside,” Lizana, of Harrison County, Miss., told The Sun Herald. She had never been partial to keeping dogs inside, but there was something different about Dixson, and in no time he managed to make her house his home.
The little pup soon turned out to be a godsend for Lizana, whose husband Kimmy often goes out of town for days at a time, leaving her alone and scared to go to sleep at night. “My husband had to go to Atlanta around Thanksgiving, and that’s when I knew why God brought Dixson to me; his timing is perfect,” she said.
After making countless unanswered calls to the number on his dog tag, Lizana accepted that Dixson was there to stay. She was thrilled.
Then in early December, Dixson vanished. Heartbroken, Lizana made “missing” fliers and posted them around town, hoping someone would find him. Days passed and the phone didn’t ring. It was more than a week later when she received a call from a woman named Jaime Evans. Evans told Lizana that her husband and daughter had seen one of Lizana’s fliers at a local grocery store and immediately recognized Dixson. Dixson, whose real name was Toby, belonged to Evan’s father, Tony, who lived not far from Lizana. Evans explained that Toby went missing shortly before her father died, and that the family had been so preoccupied with caring for him (and later moving into his home) that they were unfortunately unable to look for the little dog. She was thrilled to report that Dixson hadn’t gone missing, he’d simply gone home.
“I am overwhelmed with joy to know that he is well and in good hands. Thank you, Lord,” Lizana wrote on Facebook after learning the news. “ You let me have him for a little while and he was a great comfort to me — then you sent him home.”
Although she was heartbroken to lose him, Lizana says she was happy the little pup who had brought her so much joy was safe with a loving family.
But the angel dog (as she would later come to call him) had plans of his own. On Christmas Eve, Lizana’s neighbor called her saying she saw Dixson outside, apparently spooked by a nearby fireworks display. So Lizana texted Evans and told her she had the dog. “He can stay if you don’t mind,” she wrote. “You can come get him if you want or I will drop him off to you tomorrow.”
The response she received from Evans was one she never expected. “We were going to get him washed up and bring him to you for Christmas,” she texted back. “We talked it over and decided that you could have him. He must have broke off the chain. You will take good care of him and we know that you love him very much.”
Crying, Lizana replied, “I love y’all for that. You just made my Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
It was a difficult decision for the Evanses and their 13-year-old daughter Jada, but one they felt destined to make. As it turns out, Dixson has been comforting people for years. “My mom passed away three years ago, and about two weeks before that, Toby had come to his house,” she explained. “He was a great comfort to Daddy after my mom passed, and Daddy took good care of Toby. They would sit on the front porch together. He was a big comfort for Jada; he was a coping mechanism when my mom passed and then my dad.”
Jada struggled more than anyone, and her mom encouraged her to pray about it. “We told her he came to us at a time we needed him, and maybe it’s meant for (Lizana) to have him at this time, now. I told her to pray about it, about what we needed to do. The next day, she came to me and said, ‘You know, Mom, that’s the right thing to do.’”
Like Lizana, the Evanses searched high and low for Toby’s owner when he first appeared at their doorstep, but nobody could tell them where he came from.
“I’ve always called him an angel dog because he was such a comfort to Daddy and Jada, and at just the right time. And it was like he just appeared out of nowhere,” Evans said, then looked at Lizana. “And now he can be a comfort to you.”