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1,856 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My father sent me this in an email tonight.
He knows that doodles make great service and guide dogs.
This story though not about a doodle, is such a tribute
to the uncanny ability an animal can have to help a person
in so many ways.
And I believe God intended it that way!
It's long~but worth the read!


"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 turn d 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

"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 doctors orders. Suggestions and offers of h elp were turned
aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then
finally stopped altogether.

Dad was left alone.

My husband, Rick, 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 Rick. We began to bicker and argue.

Alarmed, Rick 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 that God cared about the tiny
human beings on this earth. I was tired of waiting for a God who did
not 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 in vain to each of the sympathetic voices that answered.

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 passed up 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

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 star ed 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 Sunday services 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 Rick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in
his bed, his face serene; but his spirit had left 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 Rick 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 made 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."Be not forgetful to entertain strangers..."

"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.

~by Catherine Moore~

Life is too short for drama & petty things, so kiss slowly, laugh
insanely, Love truly and forgive quickly.

15,203 Posts
Jane.......truly beautiful! thank you sooooooo much for sharing this story.
Makes one stop and think, maybe even shed a tear or two,
then smile inside.

94 Posts
Very touching story.

Gosh, I'm such a crybaby. (I always get choked up when I hear those OnStar commercials on the radio.)

15,203 Posts
I have to say deceased father-in-law scared the heck out of people as he appeared Grumpy, negative, nasty at times. etc

I took care of him daily for he had no car (license taken away), he was divorced and bitter, and ok an alcholoic with a failing memory as well.he lived 8 houses from me and i had 3 little kids too, but i loved him and he was always with me even took him on vacations with me when i'd visit my parents.

that story reminded me a bit of him....cause my father-in-law was a sweetie pie with me , my parents and one of the best grandfathers anyone could ask for.
when he wife left and then his dog died, he too complained all the time.

he took in 1 stray dog i found and OMG what a difference LUCKY made in his life. he and Lucky were inseparable! and when i found my home i bought it due to it being an in-law set up.
anyway he passed away in his sleep one night and we couldn't reach him for a week.We were living temporarily in NJ and driving up looking for homes here in Rochester NY.
I knew something was wrong and kept calling someone-- finally a neighbor went over.
This poor dog howled for a week day after day everyone ignoring him. he was trying to tell someone his master was dead. :shock:

Long story short: Lucky gave my father-in-law something he lost with people: unconditional love, trust, firendship and more.
LUCKY was adopted by someone who heard of what happened and took him him. Lucky was NOT the brightest dog but the sweetest for sure.
my father-in-law as giong on 76yrs old and for some reason couldn't wait the 9mos for us to move back and take him in but he died the way he wanted to: peacefully sleeping.

and for some reason this story reminded me of my father in law and how one dog made such a difference in the last few years of his life.
(ps my kids also helped open up his heart too)

1,856 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
mmmmm........... annmarie.......sounds like Lucky was a God-send, but then~ so were you and your kids. You have such a loving and caring heart. Your father-in-law was blessed to have you.


1,083 Posts
Powerful story Jane. Well written, emotional. Thanks for sharing.
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