If only some people were as loyal & loving as our pets...
Something to think about :)

The Old Man And The Dog

"Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!"
My father yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?"

Those words hurt worse than blows..
I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me,
daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I
averted my eyes.I wasn't prepared for another battle.

"I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving."
My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than
I really felt. Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled
back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went
outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in
the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder
seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon.
He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his
strength against the forces of nature. He had entered
grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often.
The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that
attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly.
The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it;
but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to
lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him
about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he
had done as a younger man. Four days after his sixty-seventh
birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the
hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood
and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an
operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something
inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately
refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of
help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults.
The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether.

Dad was left alone. My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come
live with us on our small farm.. We hoped the fresh air and rustic
atmosphere would help him adjust.. Within a week after he moved in,
I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory.
He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody.
Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker
and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the
situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for
us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe
Dad's troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent.
A raindrop struck my cheek. I looked up into the gray sky.
Somewhere up there was "God." Although I believe a Supreme Being
had created the universe, I had difficulty believing the God cared
about the tiny human being on this earth. I was tired of waiting for
a God who didn't answer.
Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called
each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages.
I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that
answered--in vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the
voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you!
Let me go get the article." I listened as she read. The article
described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the
patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their
attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given
responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a
questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor
of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens.
Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired
dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs-all jumped up, trying to reach me.
I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various
reasons-too big, too small, too much hair.. As I neared the last pen
a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked
to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the
dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.
Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray.
His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes
that caught and held my attention.
Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?" The officer
looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one..
Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought
him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That
was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow."
He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror.
"You mean you're going to kill him?"

"Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy.
"We don't have room for every unclaimed dog."

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my
decision. "I'll take him," I said. I drove home with the dog on
the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn
twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto
the front porch. "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog
I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen
than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it." Dad waved his arm
scornfully and turned back toward the house. Anger rose inside me.
It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples.

"You'd better get used to him Dad. He's staying!"
Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed.

At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides,
his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other
like duelists when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp.
He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly,
carefully, he raised his paw. Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at
the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer
waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal. It was
the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship.

Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored
the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes..
They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for
tasty trout. They even started to attend Church together, Dad sitting
in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet. Dad and Cheyenne were
inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded,
and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled
to feel Cheyenne's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had
never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe
and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But
he had died quietly sometime during the night. Two days later my shock
and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed.
I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I
buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for
the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks
like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews
reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and
Cheyenne had make filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It
was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And
then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. (New Living Translation)
Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said. For me the
past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before:
the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article .. .
Cheyenne's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter . . . his calm
acceptance and complete devotion to my father . . . and the proximity
of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered
my prayers after all.

Author Unknown To Me

Thanks to my Dear Friends Bob & Evelyeen
for sending me this beautiful story.

Jerry Morris

Page put together by Jimmy