It's been said that everything happens for a reason.
That couldn't be more true for an abandoned pooch who wandered onto the fairgrounds during the Merced County Spring Fair in Los Banos last month.
Lost, lonely and hungry, the dog nestled himself between a building for a moment of rest. That's when fate intervened.
Vern Warnke, 54, a retired Merced County sheriff's sergeant, happened to be driving by. Warnke coordinates law enforcement services for the Merced County Los Banos Spring Fair.
"I was cruising around, and I happen to see this little blond dog scampering around," Warnke recalled. "I was talking to the dog, and I reached out and touched him, and pretty soon it was allowing me to pet it."
Warnke called the dog Mayday since it was the May fair and "mayday" is a universal call for help. Warnke, who owns two rescued dogs, called on his experience working with K-9 handlers at the Sheriff's Department to earn Mayday's trust.
Pretty soon, the pooch made himself at home with Warnke, even jumping into his car and falling asleep shortly after.
Fair employees told Warnke that the frightened pup had been hanging around the grounds a few weeks.
"We were feeding the dog whatever we could find in the office," said Patti Toscano, Los Banos Spring Fair coordinator. "Every time I would reach down to pet it, it would cower away. It seemed like someone had beaten it."
As Warnke drove with Mayday in the passenger seat, he was stopped by three little girls.
"Can I pet your dog?" one of them asked.
"Are you giving him away?" another one chimed in.
Warnke soon learned that two of the girls Bridget Dorris, 7, and sister Vivian, 8 recently lost their dog, and the family was looking to adopt a new companion.
It was perfect match when the Dorris family met Mayday, Warnke said.
"The dog leapt up and started licking the little girl," he said. "He was so loving and so happy to have somebody taking care of him."
Before long, Mayday became a permanent and irreplaceable member of the family.
"He totally trusts all of us now, and he's such a good little dog," said mother Amanda Dorris, 38.
About six weeks ago, the family's three dogs were killed within one week, Dorris said. They were poisoned by someone who was harming multiple animals in the neighborhood.
"I feel like it was my fault, because I wasn't watching as closely as maybe I should have, but I never thought someone would poison our dogs," Dorris said, adding that they never let Mayday out of their sight.
"It was hard, I cried every day for a week," she added. "We were all just so sad. I don't know if we found him or he found us."
The Dorris family may have saved Mayday's life, but the pooch repaired their broken hearts.
"It's helped a lot, and I'm not crying every day anymore," Dorris said. "And the girls aren't talking about the other dogs every day anymore. They now fight over him and who gets to walk him and play with him."
The family is planning to adopt another dog from the Merced County Animal Shelter to keep Mayday company, Dorris said. The dog isn't micro-chipped, but the family is prepared to give him back if his owners show up.
But for now, they are enjoying the gift of Mayday.
"I just sometimes wonder if things are just meant to be," Dorris said. "He was meant to come into our lives when all of us were so devastated and so sad. He was meant to be."