A Tale of Love and Friendship: Who says an ill wind blows no good?

Meet Seamus and Finnegan
Photo by Paul and Marni Lee

[Editor’s Note: Recently we received the following letter from Clark O’Neill, a guy with a big heart who knows a good dog bed as well as a good story!]

Dear Orvis,

The following is a story about a wonderful couple, a terrible hurricane, two brothers that needed a helping hand, and an Orvis dog bed.

My friends, Paul and Marni Lee, live in a little New Jersey beach town called Lake Como. In the summertime, this town gets mobbed with tourists. The population quadruples. Most of the year-round residents are hard-working folks. These are the people that roof your house, or make your pizza, or pave your driveway: Salt of the Earth people.

Marni & Paul Lee
Photo by Clark O’Neill

On the night of October 29, 2012, the tourists had left. The town was back to its normal routines. What was not routine that night, however, was that the residents were doing their best to prepare for what looked like it might be a pretty serious storm. They had no idea that Hurricane Sandy would forever change their lives! When the sun finally rose the next day, they couldn’t believe what they saw.

Post-Sandy devastation
Photo by Paul & Marni Lee

The Lees were lucky. The ocean didn’t flood their house; it went around, inexplicably sparing them. The storm surge didn’t push their house off of its foundation. They didn’t have to huddle in the attic, with their family as the storm surge rose past 10, then 15, then 20 feet. They didn’t have to swim to safety in flotsam-packed roiling waters. Many people did.

Sandy storm surge
Photo by Paul & Marni Lee

As the light of day began to reveal the extent of the damage, neighbors began to help neighbors. The Atlantic Ocean was now blocks inland from where it was the day before. The next few days would show what these folks were made of, as they teamed up and helped each other. Strangers fed strangers. People, quite literally, gave the clothes off their backs to people they didn’t even know.

Paul and Marni were no different. They opened up their home to people that had lost everything. People needed help, and that’s all that mattered. If you were to ask their neighbors and friends about Paul and Marni, they would tell you how important they were to the healing process. The back door was always open. You need a blanket? You got it! A sweatshirt? Here you go! Some chili for your family? No problem. If you asked the Lees, they’d tell you they didn’t do much at all. That’s just how they roll.

As the weeks passed and New Jersey began to heal, the Lees got back to the business of living life. There were bills to be paid and work to be done. They would attend charity concerts and participate in clothing drives and cook food for folks in need, but they mostly, kept moving forward. Jersey Strong, all the way.

A few months after Sandy, just when things were starting to feel normal again, Paul and Marni suffered an awful blow. Quite unexpectedly, they lost their beloved dog, Sir Tullamore Dew. “Tully” was a gentle giant of a Golden Retriever. Everyone that came into the Lee household was greeted with the thump, thump, thump of a wagging tail on the floor. He was the kind of dog that everyone loved. And now, with no warning, he was gone, and it left a big hole in my friends’ hearts.

Sir Tullamore Dew
Photo by Paul & Marni Lee

The idea of getting another dog was mentioned. But not just any dog could replace Tully.

As is often the case, the right dog (or should we say dogs) found Paul and Marni. Word went out that two goofy Yellow Labrador Retriever brothers needed a good home. Their previous owners had had some setbacks, and they were put up for adoption. There was just one rule: under NO circumstances, could they be separated. The two brothers, Seamus and Finnegan, were a package deal.

Seamus & Finnegan
Photo by Paul Lee

People immediately thought of the Lees. Messages and photos were sent. A visit was arranged. Marni and Paul saw these smiling, tail-wagging guys and they “just knew.” No dog could ever replace Sir Tullamore Dew…perhaps it might just take two.

When they first got these clowns home, they posted pictures of them on Facebook, and you could have heard a huge cheer, as people celebrated these brothers who needed a break, landing in one of the most love-filled homes possible. Not really sure who needed who more, but everyone came out a winner.

Nap time
Photo by Paul & Marni Lee

The photos on Facebook continued. We came to love the way these guys slept intertwined, with their paws touching. There is a special bond between them, and only people with hearts as big as Paul and Marni could have turned their house upside down to take in TWO of these big guys.

My wife and I decided to send Seamus and Finnegan a gift. We too have a rescued dog, a 90-pound spoiled Irish Setter named Simba Von Oatmeal. He is a dog unlike any other.

Photo by Clark O’Neill

One of his favorite things in life is his extra large therapeutic Memory Foam Orvis dog bed.

Simba relaxing in his Orvis Memory Foam bed
Photo by Clark O’Neill

After seeing pictures of Seamus and Finnegan sprawled out on hardwood floors, we knew what they needed. Below is a Facebook post from Paul Lee, describing the day our gift arrived:

“OK, so Marni calls me and tells me there is a giant box being delivered from Orvis. I love anything from Orvis, because they sell awesome fishing gear, of the highest quality. She also informs me that it has been addressed to Seamus and Finnegan Lee. Now this piques my interest because I didn’t think either one of them knew anything about Orvis, let alone how to order something online. Marni then proceeds to open aforementioned giant box to find this huge dog bed with F&S embroidered on it. The second she puts it down, both beasts pounce and within seconds, it looks as though there has been some sort of a gas leak! Out cold. Snoring out loud, out cold…”

I think this accompanying photo shows that Seamus and Finnegan are pretty happy guys:

Seamus & Finnegan, sacked out
Photo by Paul & Marni Lee

Thank you, Orvis. These beds are great. I thought I might share a little story about two great people (Editor’s note – Make that three!), and two lost brothers. Thanks to time and a gigantic dog bed, there is a happy ending indeed.

Clark O’Neill

5 thoughts on “A Tale of Love and Friendship: Who says an ill wind blows no good?”

  1. We thank you all for such a great outpouring of love. We will think of you all whilst relaxing on the bed! If anyone needs a place to store treats I’m sure Marni and Paul can find room here. Gotta go, the cat across the street wants to play!
    Seamus and Finnegan Lee

  2. Two things I couldn’t figure out how to share:
    1.) by working with some charitable organizations, I ended up traveling with some relief supplies to Lake Como and Belmar, NJ. The destruction was unbelievable. The residents of New Jersey were even more unbelievable. They had every reason to throw their hands up and cry. Instead they rolled up their sleeves, always kept laughter close at hand, and left me with the finest impression of those that stayed “Jersey Strong”. Good people.
    2.) it was hard to convey that Paul and Marni came home to an empty house for months and months and months(over a year, actually). It took time for the right dogs to find them. A long time. Good things are worth waiting for.
    Clark O’Neill

  3. It took us 4 days to get another rescue dog after our Roxy passed. She was only 5 1/2 years old and we were devastated! But when you have a dog and they become part of your family, and get DEEP into your heart, it’s a wonder how you EVER lived without them. I didn’t think it was possible again but our Jerze is right there, in my heart, next to her sister. Love your story!

  4. Clark & Susan O’Neill (brother & sister-in-law) are truly dedicated animal-lovers. Proud of them & Paul & Marni. Not to mention the four-footed ones. Thanks Orvis for sharing the love & this heartwarming story. Kate O’Neill

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