A group of students needed community service hours to go along with grades so they could qualify for the National Honor Society at Jesuit College Preparatory of Dallas. Their efforts likely saved a life.
The boys — Austin Benavidez, Cole Fincher, Andrew Frank, Colin Moore, and Paul Paris — volunteered to help For the Love of the Lake by cleaning up a section of White Rock Lake. They selected a remote spot near White Rock Dog Park under the Mockingbird bridge.
As Don Fincher, Cole’s dad, said, “These boys were not just off the beaten path, they were far beyond the beaten path. They found out [cleaning remote sections] was more of an adventure, fun, than a task.”
During three weekends of work, they filled 25 garbage bags with recyclable plastic bottles, 10 bags with trash, and fished out one car bumper and a section of bridge rail.
That work was laudatory enough. They did more, so much more.
Cole Fincher and his buddy Paul Paris spotted something moving in the water Jan. 29. It was a basset hound stuck in some brush and debris. They worked their way through the water and flotsam, and, with the help of an unidentified woman from the dog park, rescue the basset.
The dog — Emily, as it turned out — wore registration tags, from St. Louis.
A series of phone calls, messages, and returned calls between Dallas and St. Louis located Emily’s human, Devin Gates, who had moved to Dallas about a week earlier. He and his wife arrived Jan. 22, and Emily escaped the backyard of their Love Field-area house Jan. 23.
During the week she was missing Emily walked about eight or more miles from the Bluff View area of Dallas to White Rock. The irony was not lost on Gates.
“This is a dog I once took on a six-mile hike,” he said, “and ended up carrying her the last three miles.”
During the time it took to locate Gates and for him to drive to the Fincher home, Emily had been checked by a vet, bathed, and started feeling comfortable in her rescuers’ home.
“She was getting along with our dog, and my daughter just fell in love with her,” Don Fincher said, “but when Emily saw her owner you could see how elated she was. She lit up like a Christmas tree.”
Membership in the National Honor Society is nice and all but nothing compared to a secured place in Heaven.