Call it destiny, fate, or just plain luck – so much in life comes down to being in the right place at the right time.
And that was the case for one lucky pup whose life didn't start out so lucky.
Elizabeth Jackson, also known as Pippa, was at her cabin near Philadelphia, Mississippi last Sunday night. In town, the Neshoba County Fair was going on.
"It's a very unique experience," she said. "It's the only one like it in the world."
As Jackson relaxed on a beautiful summer night, she noticed something that didn't look quite right.
"This girl was walking down past the cabin with this little puppy that was shivering and had just been bathed and the girl carrying the puppy was looking kind of wild-eyed and frantic," she said.
Her instincts kicked in.
"I run an animal rescue organization and I recognized the look, so I said, 'What are you doing?' And she said, 'I just bought this puppy from up at the midway. I had to get it out of there. I paid this woman for this dog and I can't take it back, but my grandmother won't let me keep it. I'm just not going to take it back there."
Jackson pressed her for more.
"She said, 'The woman was keeping it in a garbage sack and it was covered in fleas and it was just horrible. She was selling them and I paid her $100 just to get it, but then I brought it home and my grandmother says I can't keep it, so I'm trying to figure out what to do.'"
And that was the puppy's first lucky break.
"I said, 'Well, it's your lucky day. I run an animal rescue organization. Do you want me to pay you $100?' She said, 'No, no. I just want the puppy safe.' I said, 'Ok. We've got this.'"
As soon as Jackson had the puppy in her hands, she went to work.
"She turned over the puppy to me and it still had fleas on it. It took me four more baths to get all the fleas off the poor baby," she said. "The puppy was getting kind of weak and limp and it was very dehydrated. The fleas had been sucking all of its blood. I fixed it up some sugar water and simple syrup, got a heating pad for it, got it cleaned up, dried up, and got it some food. I happened to have my dog out there with me, so I had some high quality canned food for the puppy."
Once she got it stabilized, she had to find a foster family – and she already had someone in mind.
"My cousin, Carolyn Yates Voyles, is on our board of directors and she has a cabin out there, so I sent her a picture on my phone, knowing that she'd come down with her children to see it and hopefully foster it for me. I sucker punched her," she laughed. "I said, 'Hey, look what I've got!'"
She agreed to foster the puppy – and fate intervened again.
You see, the Manning family has close ties to Mississippi. It's where Peyton's mother, Olivia, grew up. It's where he and his siblings, Cooper and Eli, spent their summers growing up. And it's where they still spend time every summer.
"Olivia is from Philadelphia, Mississippi," Jackson said. "They go out to the fair every year. Their family's cabin is just a couple of doors down from my cousin's cabin."
Which happened to be the foster home for the rescued puppy.
"She took it back to her cabin and she has two little boys and all of their little friends were playing out front. And so, Peyton's daughter saw the puppy and went and got her mama. And Ashley looked at it and said, 'Can we please adopt it?'"
Through Jackson's nonprofit organization, the Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi, they approved the adoption so the puppy could go home with the Mannings.
"Carolyn texted me and said, 'I know we have very strict processes in how we adopt, but this is who it is.' She told me stories about Ashley rescuing sea crabs and returning them to the sea. And Ashley rescued a honeybee the other day and released it."
After a vet check, some vaccinations, and some medication, the puppy was ready to fly back to Denver with her new family.
"They let Carolyn's children keep the puppy one last night before they left and they flew out Wednesday morning and now, she's back in Denver."
The stars aligned for one lucky pup.
"It's kismet," said Jackson. "Everything fell so perfectly into place, it was meant to be. And this little puppy, from the midway to the Mannings – how wonderful is that?"
But it all started with a few caring people who stepped in to change her fate.
And that's what Jackson does every day.
"We are a no-kill nonprofit animal rescue organization. We are solely supported by donations. We don't have a fairy godmother, we don't have a rich uncle, we don't get any government money."
But they do have a Manning. And she's hoping Peyton's star power will help send a message – that if an adopted puppy is good enough for him, it's good enough for you.
"Adopt, don't shop," she said. "There are a lot of really great animals out there looking for a home and it's cool to adopt."
In honor of Peyton's puppy, every dollar raised over the next 18 days will be matched by a donor if specified for the ARF Challenge 18. To make a donation, go to: http://www.arfms.org/donate.