Richard Connor: Rescue and redemption – the universal plot line

"Pretty Woman"

The best result from loss is redemption. Particularly when it involves the heart.

The final scene of the enduringly popular movie Pretty Woman capsulizes the essence of the entire picture and its message goes far beyond the classic story line of two seemingly mismatched people who fall in love.

Richard Gere asks: “What happens after the knight climbs the tower and rescues the princess?”

Julia Roberts replies: “She rescues him right back.”

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Combine the elements of a story about animals, true love, loss and victory and never giving up, then add a heartwarming subplot of rescue and redemption and you have a timeless tale that transcends simple storytelling.

Last week’s two columns about Bobby Kerr and his work rescuing mustangs and training them into the top rodeo specialty act in the country created a substantial following among our readers online, in the paper, and on social media. (Click here to read the columns.)

Kerr, a native of Canada who now lives in Hico, ran away from home at 14 to become a cowboy and eventually became a horse trainer. Along the way, he worked as an artist building metal sculpture, furniture and custom motorcycles – anything to make a living – and even drove an 18-wheeler to make ends meet.

He laughingly admits to being a gypsy. Under the brim of his worn and dirty cowboy hat you’ll find a sparkle in his eyes and a mischievous but warm grin under a thick mustache. The light in his face is that of a maverick, a man who has lived life his way alongside his wife Susan, his partner in marriage for nearly 40 years.

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The corollary between Kerr and the wild-and-free mustangs he trains is easy to draw. Beyond that is the fairy-tale, movie-ending twist to the story: he saved the mustangs; they saved him.

Almost 20 years ago, there was an animal act at the Fort Worth Rodeo featuring a man and at least a half-dozen dogs who did amazing tricks.

I took my younger daughter, then about 5, behind the bucking chutes one Saturday morning to meet the dog trainer. All of the dogs were in a stall, either sleeping or playing with one another. The trainer let my daughter play with them.

I asked how he raised the dogs, or where he bought them and how he trained them.

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“Oh, all of them are rescue dogs,” he said. “And most were within days or even hours of being euthanized when I found them.”

I listened in amazement.

“They know when you rescue them and they never forget it,” he said. “They become the best and most loyal pets you will ever find.”

Small and energetic, the dogs jumped around and played with my daughter, who was a bundle of small-child giggles and happiness.

If you’re sensing a central theme to all this it’s because there is one – and it’s about much more than rescuing animals. When you give of yourself, when you reach out a hand to help, whether for an animal or another human, good deeds come back to you.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at