Steve Schwertfeger got something back last week that he never expected to see again.
The Crystal Lake man was surprised when three strangers, all children, found a missing dog tag near a pavilion at Exner Marsh in Lake in the Hills that once belonged to Schwertfeger's four-legged companion, May, who died in November.
Listed were Schwertfeger's name, address and phone number.
The children, Austin Sansone, 12, Aiden Sansone, 10, and Leiah Hoelbl, 10, thought it was a lost military ID, called Schwertfeger and agreed to meet where the missing piece of identification was found.
Schwertfeger wasn't sure what to expect.
"When I pulled in, the boy was waiting in the picnic area with his younger brother and cousin," Schwertfeger said in an email to the Northwest Herald. "They all acknowledged me and presented the dog tag that May once wore. ... I was emotionally floored when I saw that.
"It was almost like being in a Hallmark movie."
Schwertfeger explained that May had been lost in the same area after she was bitten by a snake.
The dog tag had been missing ever since.
"All kinds of questions started flying and, in the discussion, I told them how May died in November," Schwertfeger said. "The kids all got up, and without question, they gave me a hug, saying how sorry they were because my dog had died. They asked me what May was like and told me about their pets. It was a really nice time."
As they shared stories, something appeared out of the grass.
It was only a slight scare.
"As we were talking, a big corn snake slithered out of the grass and started to crawl under the cement slab," Schwertfeger said. "They became all excited and touched it once it started to crawl underground."
Schwertfeger was blown away by the kindness and generosity displayed by the children and posted the story to his Facebook page, where it received dozens of likes, comments and shares.
"These kids, on their own, with no parental guidance, called a stranger because they found a tag that my dog had worn about a year ago," Schwertfeger said. "What a great example of doing the right thing."
"It was great that they did that," said Jen Sansone, Austin and Aiden's mom. "May seems to have been an amazing dog."
Schwertfeger told the children that he would give them a reward for their act of kindness – something May certainly would approve of.
May was a therapy dog for 10 years and frequent guest at community hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes and the Crystal Lake Public Library.
"I’m going to contact the newspaper and tell them about this," Schwertfeger said. "Hopefully, they will write something showcasing the positive thing (you) did for me today."