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Straight from the Heart

By on May 1, 2018

The BOUNDLESS Love Story of Sir Charles

When flatbed owner-operator David Raymond called with a RoadKing story idea about his companion animal, it took several months to come to fruition. During the interview, it was clear David’s personal life history—just into its seventh decade—contained sufficient material to fill a two-, maybe three-volume autobiography.

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While not possible to prepare anything close to a “This Is Your Life” feature, some flashbacks provide a bit of perspective. David was born into a good family with hard-working parents who ran a successful business and also enjoyed adjunct careers as professional dancers. He’s more reserved about the influence of his two older brothers, but credits them with making him a tougher, better survivor.

Two key thoughts from his parents have served as guideposts throughout his life:

  • You can make your heaven, or you can make your hell here on earth; it’s your choice.
  • Look for a good church and a good doctor; you’re going to need them.

The parts about hell and needing a good doctor proved to be prophetic.

A recent run-in with the law illustrates a low-point in his life. In volunteering to help set up a recovery home for wayward men, one of the guests who was high on vodka and opioids literally beat him to a pulp. The perpetrator claimed self-defense and used a self-inflicted knife wound to validate his story. When David regained consciousness many days later, he found himself naked in a dungeon-like cell, facing serious charges including attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and intent to injure with a dangerous weapon. After spending months in jail facing two life sentences and fearing the worst, the truth eventually set him free.

David’s previously reawakened faith helped pull him through this darkest of times. His rebirth started when he asked others, “How do you know when it’s God talking to you?” The smart ones told him it will always be through your heart, not your sick brain, and it will coincide with the gospel, God’s word. If you’re a religious person, you’re probably inclined to read on. If you’re not, but count yourself among animal lovers, please do read on.

To Know Him Is to Love Him

You may have heard stories about some hotels that have concierge dogs who greet arriving guests and brighten their stays. About three and half years ago, David Raymond had the good fortune to have a three-month old pup—Sir Charles as he was appropriately named—enter his life. He’s a specially bred Shih Tzu and Yorkie combination, commonly referred to as a “Shorkie.” With his official certification as a Service Dog for the Heart, Sir Charles is a very well-known and honored guest at TA-Petro locations up and down the Eastern Seaboard, especially at TA Harrisburg, PA on I-81 at Exit 77.

As he travels across this beautiful land with Sir Charles in his passenger seat of honor, David has discovered how they can be of service to others. “Sir Charles is like an icebreaker,” said David. “He provides unconditional love to anyone and everyone who will take a moment from their bustling lives to engage with him. I can walk through a Walmart alone and never speak to anyone, maybe the cashier. When Sir Charles is at my side, it can take two hours just to buy a couple of simple items.

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“He has a way of instantaneously telling people, I’m here to be your friend. Maybe it’s his engaging eyes and waging tail that tell people, ‘I’d like to get to know you.’ Or it’s the way he approaches them, while carrying his leash in his mouth. He’s a 17-pound bundle of love that just can’t help himself when it comes to making someone else’s day. His personality and disposition set an outstanding example for the unconditional love that can be so lacking in people’s interactions with their fellow human beings.

“Charlie has certainly been a huge difference maker in my life,” said David. “I’m much more understanding and tolerant of others. I could get steaming mad and curse for hours about the simplest of things, like someone cutting me off in rush-hour traffic. No more! Now, I don’t give anyone the keys to drive me crazy.”

Riding shotgun as David hauls steel and other metals from Fredericksburg, VA to points as far north as the New England states, Sir Charles is the ideal companion. The mutual love and loyalty they share provide strong testimony about the benefits of having an animal on board. Sir Charles is perfectly content to look out the side window or sleep in one of his favorite spots. When it’s break time, he loves to play outside and has never met a ball—even those half as big as he is—that he doesn’t think he can handle. For David, he sees the power of the Almighty at work in Charlie and in so many of God’s creatures that he has been lucky to encounter.

Sir Charles says thanks to TA-Petro staff members for their warm reception and generous hospitality.

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