New Life and Second Chances….Lessons I Have Learned From Dogs

    A couple of months ago I met a Rottweiler named Quasimodo. A rather quiet and gentle soul. Quasi was attacked by another dog when he was just a few weeks old, and his nasal cavity was crushed. As he grew and matured his body compensated for the injury and grew an enormous mass of bone on the left side of his head. So Quasi, now one year old, has this huge domed hump on the top of his head, a mass so large that is caused his left eye to be squeezed shut and thus giving him his name.

 Quasi has known no other life, all his days have been spent with the burden and the pressure of his injury. This is his life, this is as good as it gets for Quasi. Sure, he has had some good times, some tasty bones, naps in the sun and interactions with others, but all took place with the burden and the pressure of the old injury, squeezing shut his eye and causing pain, sort of like having a permanent sinus infection.

 I immediately fell in love with this dog, with his grossly misshapen head and his quiet and kind brown eye. You could just feel the “very special” radiating off this dog. On that first day that we met, I was only able to spend a few minutes with him, on a quick walk around the park, but he captivated me from the moment I first saw him.

 The next week Quasi went in for surgery, to remove all that extra skull from his dome. When they cut into him they found this hardened bony dome was filled with nasty pus and gore. The vet was brilliant in her work and worked diligently to remove all the infection and once the surgery was over, Quasi’s head was more normal shaped.

 He arrived back to the rescue that evening, and the dog that had been quiet and gentle was now dancing. He danced and he lept and he was so darn happy. Although he had a huge cone on his head, and gauze packed into his surgery wound, with a drain hanging out the top of his head, and he looked a frightful hot mess, but he didn’t care. All Quasi knew was that the burden, and the pressure were gone! And he felt wonderful! He felt alive! And he wanted nothing more than to dance and to run and to leap, not caring at all that he was slinging blood and gore all about him, plastering it upon the walls and the people. For the first time since his injury, Quasimodo was dancing!

 Sadly I did not get to see this wonderful sight, but I had it described to me, and it filled my heart with joy for this beautiful very special dog!

   A few weeks later I got to spend some time with Quasi. What a different dog from when we first met. His head was filled with stitches and somewhat misshapen, and he had a bit of a Frankenstein appearance now, he was wearing his huge cone, but he had such joy in his eyes. He was a new dog. The same and yet not the same. He was alive, he was joyful, and looking at him all I could see was beautiful hope and redemption.

 Quasimodo reminds me of myself. Of how I lived my life, up until my high twenties, with a burden and a pressure upon it that I could not describe, nor understand, nor get rid of. There were good times, and great experiences, but all were somewhat marred by that pressure and yearning that spoke to my soul saying “surely this is not everything?” “Surely there is something more?”

 And somewhere into all that mess that was me, and my life, God reached down and called my name, and something inside me awoke, and something I had always carried, not even realizing the full weight of it, fell away, and I was free and I was changed. Jesus, the one who touched lepers, had touched me and I would never again be the same. All that stuff mucking up my life, all that weight pressing down upon me, all that yearning for “something more”, was gone and I was new and different.

  I know how Quasimodo must feel, I know why he dances, he has been given a new life, totally and completely different from the life he once had. He didn’t even know that such a thing was possible. All of his days of memory had been filled with that pressure, that big ugly puss filled burden on the top of his head. It had marred everything. Even the good moments of life, the tasty bones, the time spent with the people he loved, all of that marred by that steady pressure of pain, that steady burden of infection. He is a new dog now.

    I have since been blessed to be able to foster Quasimodo for a bit and currently he is entertaining us with his antics and teaching me the lessons I need to learn from him, before he moves on into his special forever home.

    He has already shown me how there is always hope, even when you can't feel it, can't see it, can't even contemplate the possibility of it. He has found a new life, a second chance, and its like nothing he could ever dream. He will get to be all that he was created to be, he will dance, he will frolic and he will bring love and companionship to his special human. Quasi has joy now, an unbridled joy, he feels good, he feels so good that he can hardly contain himself.

   He has already shown me the art of dancing, even if you have ugly stitches and a huge cone on your head. And just watching him, seeing the joy in his face reminds me of redemption. Something that I too rejoice in and am greatly thankful for.

    Quasi has been redeemed. His redemption was bought for him by someone else, an act of total grace and one for which he cannot repay. And he is overjoyed by this new wonderful life he has been given. There is so much more to come for him, but right now its a lot of times in crates, and wearing a giant cone on his head but still he dances. He is the very picture of joy personified. It's as if he can now see the hope in front of him.

 He is a hoot to watch, and already I see that God has much to teach me through the antics of this very special dog.

     God bless you Quasimodo, and grant you long life, peace, people who adore you, tasty bones, naps in the sun, long walks by the river and all the other good things that every dog should have. Until then…………teach me His ways and His lessons as I watch you heal up.

   


 

You're shattered
Like you've never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you're never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
'Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

 

 


A Silent Cry For Help

 

On Sunday, the 25th of September in the year of our Lord 2016, I was sitting on our back porch, reading a book and anticipating an afternoon and evening of rest and relaxation. All my chores were done. It is rare to have an afternoon and evening of rest for me and I try hard to carve out my Sundays to just be still and enjoy things.

  Suddenly Samson began to bark, and bark as if there were something right there, something terrible, so I got up and quickly went over to the fence where he and Einstein were intently staring at something on the other side. I thought it must be a snake, and yet I saw nothing on the ground in front of Samson. Suddenly there was movement under our little pickup truck parked just on the other side of the fence. I saw a very long tail, beige in color……..perhaps a possum, but a very strange looking one and as I bent down to look my eyes fell upon a terrified little dog, a dog so covered in mats that it was impossible to see which end was which.

   The day was hot and she was panting profusely from the heat. I quickly caught up my dogs, locked them inside and retrieved water and a bowl for her, along with some food. Slowly but surely I enticed her out from under the truck and into my garage. As I dropped food upon the ground I noticed her violently pushing her face back and forth along the concrete. As she allowed me to get closer I realized that the knots of hair were hanging all in front of her face and she was unable to get food into her mouth. Her pushing her face along the ground was her attempts to get the hair cleared away so that she could pick up the bits of food.

 I took a few quick photos and quickly went in to retrieve scissors and more food. Slowly she allowed me to touch her briefly here and there and each time I quietly clipped away a mat of hair. The long tail I had first seen when she was under the truck turned out to be mostly hair, dragging at least 12 inches behind her. A huge massive braid of fur, like wool, heavy and filled with sticks and cactus. She made no sound. She simply cowered and trembled, dejected and afraid and yet desperately crying out “please help me”. My heart was broken for her pain and suffering. It takes a very long time for a dog to get into the condition that she was in. She had suffered years of neglect.

  So my relaxing afternoon and evening, became a project to try and free her from some of the terrible matting. The matting was so dense and thick that it was if she were covered in several layers of thick wool, wool woven into a blanket. Stuck deep with these masses of hair were thorns and sticks and goat head burrs.

  I could not do much around her head, I was unable to find her ears and feared I would inadvertently cut into one. Her feet were encased in the thick wooly mats and she seemed uncomfortable with me touching them, so I pulled a few burrs out and left her feet alone.

  Gradually she became comfortable with me, I think she realized I was helping her, and I was able to cut away a huge pile of fur. Still she was encased in the wool. I made her comfortable in a crate, gave her water and softened food and let her rest for a bit.

 The next day I took her to the vet. A local rescue (Pet A Bulls) had generously offered to take care of her medical needs. Late Monday I was informed that she had a small mammary tumor and terrible teeth. So today, Tuesday, she is having surgery to repair her teeth, remove the tumor and be shaved and set free of the mass of hair covering her poor little body.

Update October 12th 2016 : This little one has come alive and it is amazing to watch her little personality come out. At first she was so afraid, shaking in fear whenever you touched her or held her. Now she asks to be held and she loves to sleep next to you. She seems to enjoy wearing her little sweater and t-shirt. She loves to eat and she LOVES chicken liver! She is doing well with her housebreaking and is fully crate trained. She cannot push through the big dog doors at my house so someone has to let her out to potty, but she is doing very well. She gets along well with both the other dogs in my home and has met several others at the park and has had no issues with any.

 She is available for adoption now, through Pet A Bulls rescue in Albuquerque. She needs a home where she can live out her days as a little princess, where someone will provide regular grooming and little bows and paint her little toenails and spoil her rotten. She has suffered a lot in her short little life………I pray that all her days of suffering are at last over.

If you would like to donate to offset the cost of the medical care provided to this little one please do so at this address:

https://www.facebook.com/Pet-A-Bulls-Inc-177947685596925/app/190322544333196/

If you are interested in adopting this little one please see this address:

http://petabulls.com/adopt/

Please go to Pet A Bulls Facebook page and give them a LIKE for taking care of this little one:

https://www.facebook.com/Pet-A-Bulls-Inc-177947685596925/


Einstein the Foster Dog

  After the recent loss of my beloved Hektor, the Dogo Argentino I decided to foster dogs for awhile. I wanted to give back to the dog world some of the grace I have received over the years from a variety of good dogs. Fostering enables me to help dogs in need, and it helps me in many ways to deal with the grief of losing my dear friend Hektor. 

 So enters Einstein into my life. He entered a bit quicker than I wanted, but the need was there so I said yes and brought him home. When I first laid eyes upon Einstein he was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle of the nice rescue lady who had picked him up that day. The story I know of his life prior to this moment is that he was picked up as a stray, and the animal control officer who picked him up decided to keep him, but things didn't work out due to his male dog's refusal to accept Einstein. So he came to a local rescue called Pet-A-Bull. He was there for a bit, living amongst a horde of rescued pit bulls until he was adopted by some lady. I do not know how long he was with her, only that she had returned him that day, saying he was a great dog, but he was too rambunctious for her.

  The rescue really wanted him to be able to go into a foster home, and to not have to go back to a kennel at the rescue. I can see now, after getting to know him a bit why that was so important. Einstein is not the kind of dog who does well in a kennel.

  The little guy sitting in the backseat looks scared. How scary it must be to live your life at the whims of humans. Imagine yourself dropped tomorrow in some far away country where no one speaks your language and to be dropped there without any money or any means to care for yourself. People are babbling to you, waving their hands about, talking louder as you fail to understand their words. How scary that would be.

 Einstein was frightened, he was uncertain, he had no idea what was going on or where he might be headed. He was doing his best to trust people, for he is a lover of humans, but you could see in his eyes that he was worried. My heart broke as it always does when I see an animal in need.

 I transferred him to my vehicle along with his supply of dog food and off we went for home. I didn't ask much of him. I just talked softly about nothing much at all, telling him all would be well and that he was safe. He did not understand my words, but I think my quiet speech gave him some measure of relief. Still the little guy was apprehensive. After all, he had heard kind words from folks before, but things hadn't turned out like he had hoped.

 We arrived at home and upon entering he was just so scared and so submissive that we sort of left him alone for a bit. He gravitated straight to my son Josh and huddled fearfully under his computer desk. I wondered if at some point he had given his heart to some young man like Josh, for he seemed to think that safety was to be found right there under that desk.

 We gave him that entire afternoon to just settle in, only breaking his peace with potty breaks and even those were traumatic for him. He was afraid of the patio door and he slipped on the tile floor, giving me that look of betrayal as if I had set him up to fall. My heart went out to this little dog, written all over him was the desire to love and trust, the desire to be loved and trusted, and yet he was afraid. He had lost a lot in a very short time. Been saved from the life of a stray, met up with someone who wanted to love him but had to turn him into rescue, gotten slightly adjusted to the hordes of dogs at the rescue, then he had been invited into the home of the lady.....now here he was, in another strange place, with another lady, a lady talking softly and telling him everything was going to be okay........perhaps just as the last lady had.

 By the next morning he began slowly to come out of his shell, as if he had decided to dare to hope. He made a decision to just love us to death, almost desperate in his actions, like he was trying to say "I'm a good dog!, I'm such a good dog! Please love me! Please let me stay!"

  We began to go for walks and I was impressed with how quickly he responded to me and how eager and content he was to walk right there with me. I was not walking a dog, nor was I being walked by a dog....instead he and I were walking together. That's how it should be and yet I was surprised at how easily we had arrived at this state. It was Einstein's desire to be with me that made it so easy.

 He has been with me for 6 days now. He is a delightful dog. A worthy dog. This is the kind of dog that would lay right down and die for you if you were to ask him, and were he to understand that you needed him to. This is the kind of dog that wants only to be with his special person, to follow them about the house, to walk with them along country roads, to sleep with them in fluffy beds. He is friendly, he is playful, he is loyal. This is the kind of dog that wants to be with you, participate with you, and he delights in your companionship and attention. He is what I call a Velcro dog, loyal and devoted.

  Einstein is a very special dog and I pray, with all my heart I pray, that God will provide him with the quality home and person that he so deserves, and I pray that my eyes would be always open, for the lessons that God is sure to teach me during this time of caring for Einstein.

 When I watch Einstein as he plays in the yard, I see a dog that is worried. He is happy, but in his happiness he is quick to glance at me from time to time, to make certain I am still there, he is happy like a kid given an ice cream cone, but one who knows that someone might snatch it away at any moment. He is uncertain. He is a dog that has loved and lost and yet is so willing to love again. He is a good dog. I pray his person is worthy of such a dog.


Ode to a Big White Dog………Hektor the Big Tow Griego…..RIP

  Hektor, the Dogo Argentino, was my very first Dogo and a dog that taught me so very much over the many years we had together. On September the 14th, at or around 2:30 PM he passed from this life and left my heart broken yet again for the loss of a dog, a loyal friend and a treasured companion.

  Hektor loved two things dearly, very dearly. One was food…..the other was me.

 Hektor trusted one person…..he wanted to trust others but he always held a little back….but with me he trusted. He would do things that made him anxious, go places that were to him a little scary simply because I asked him to.

 There is a great honor in being trusted by a dog, any dog, regardless of personality, but there is an awesome honor in being trusted by a dog that is anxious or fearful. The weight of that trust weighs like a stone upon my heart today, the weight of the honor you bestowed upon me, your person, for your final journey.

 I saw the anxious look in your eyes as you beheld the veterinarian and her assistant sitting in your living room. I saw the conflict in your eyes as your heart told you, fight or flee……and I know my friend that this was the very hardest thing I had ever ask of you. I had to ask you to be still in the presence of strangers. To ask you to lie quietly on the floor and believe, this one last time that I, the one you trust so, mean only the very best for you.

  In the end you left in peace, and though it broke my heart to see you stretched out, knowing what was to come, it was good to see you totally pain free and resting. You haven’t rested well for some time. That anxious look you wear when we go somewhere scary, or do something that you are uncertain of, was a look you began to wear at home all the time. Pain intensifies anxiety.

 You are free from pain now my old friend, free from the anxiety of it. You have earned your rest time and time again. Thank you for the years of loyalty and trust. Thank you for all the walks we took. Thank you for all the times you trusted me when things looked so scary. You were always brave. One cannot be brave without the presence of fear. You were always brave. I always felt safe with you beside me when we walked out on the mesa together.

I miss you.

Yesterday I came home, and as the garage door opened I naturally looked for your smiling happy dog face and your great thumping tail…….and there was nothing.

 Five PM came and went and there was no reminder that it was dinner time. You always loved breakfast and dinner and you could set the clock by the anxious look on your face if I forgot what time it was.

 Yesterday I took Samson out for a walk along the high mesa. I missed your presence terribly. Missed the security of having the big white dog by my side, missed your steadfastness, for as you know, Samson, though beloved is like a flash of energy that never stops. You always loved to walk right beside me, my hand could brush the top of your back as we walked. I miss you.

  You will be laid to rest next to Miss Keeter, my “bestest” girl. It is right and fitting that you two rest together. But more importantly you will take your place within my heart, buried there for as long as I have breath and walk this earth……..and I will call you as I walk the mesa, and you can take your place along side Snubby, Charlie, Floppy Bear, Gunnar Goodheart and dear Miss Keeter………until the other side my old friend………I miss you!

 “For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost -- if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all. If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call -- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

by Ben Hur Lampman

 

  I would like to thank  Dr Lauryn Spohn and her office at Pawz To Care - Animal Hospital Bernalillo, for their kindness and compassion. They came to my home and they worked very hard to make sure my boy was comfortable and free of pain and anxiety before he passed. I will be forever grateful for that. My boy was never happy at the vet’s office and it would have been so hard to have him go out there. Thank you! Thank you! For all that you did to see him relaxed and comfortable and to allow him to go out in his home.

   Rest in peace Hektor Griego 9/14/2016

  

 Hektor watching us fish.

 Hektor waiting on his favorite thing, FOOD!


  He spent his last day with me, sleeping on the bed, eating chicken and turkey and ice cream.

  I ask my friend to trust me one last time.

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings and walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.”
Suzanne Clothier, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs

   Here is an old blog post about one of the many important lessons Hektor taught me.

http://allisgrace.posthaven.com/do-not-be-anxious-dot-dot-dot-lessons-from-a-big-white-dog


Samson------The Dog I Did Not Choose

  Samson was selected sometime near Christmas of 2010, from a sink full of puppies in a crack house in northern Washington state. My eldest son braved the interior of that desolate house, walked in with his money and paid for a pup, and reached down into that sink and took out Sam. Sam was a gift for his wife Melanie, now deceased.

    The story of how Samson became mine is a long one, and it is filled to the brim with sorrow and loss, so we will just briefly say that he came to live with us for what was to be a short time, but due to the suicide of our daughter in law Melanie he became a permanent fixture in our home.

 I tried to arrange for him to be a service dog for my son, but the memories he invoked were too fresh and too painful. I tried to rehome him with people that I knew would love and care for him, but my son could not stand the thought of him living anywhere but with us. So Samson, the Australian Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog mix became a permanent part of my pack.

  I am a bully dog person, a large giant dog person. My breeds of preference are the Dogo Argentino (of which I had two when Samson came), South African Boerboels, English Mastiffs, pit bulls, Cane Corsos and such.....you get the picture. Samson was not my kind of dog. He was a nuisance to end all nuisances. He had a zest for life and a heart the size of the bravest Dogo Argentino, but he had a scrawny body, his one defense was his speed, but even that was not sufficient because his heart told him he could take on anything and if that meant two giant Dogo Argentinos then so be it.

  When under duress from his larger pack members, Samson has the ability to blow his hair straight up all over, giving himself the appearance of a small and scrawny black bear. The seriousness of such situations are often dealt with by me while hysterically laughing at the sight. Wish I had a photo of that for you.

  Samson constantly herded the Dogos about the yard, nipping at their heels, barking like a lunatic and often getting attacked for his efforts. His quick evasions saved him several times, but if pinned with no escape he would go into full on scrap mode. Only my constant attentiveness saved him from almost certain death on several occasions. He did loose part of one ear, suffered the occasional puncture wound and a few bruisings from being thrown to the ground like a rag doll by exasperated Dogos.

 To be perfectly honest I didn't really care much for Samson. I kept him, and I cared for him, we allowed him the privilege of sleeping on our bed, I worked with him diligently to curb his desire to herd his fellow giant canines and slowly, over time he crept right into my heart and I just woke up one day, him creeping up to me in bed to be petted, and I realized "I love this little stinker".

  He has taught me a lot.

 Samson lives life fully and completely. There is no quit in him, there is no lounging about with him, if it is daylight and we are up then you can rest assured he is zipping about the house or yard with an energy that is boundless. He hunts ground squirrels, he digs holes to China, he collects every stick to be found, he chases the cat, he herds the dogs. He goes and goes and goes and it is a very rare thing to ever see him resting in the light of day. I purchased a herding ball for him and I have to take it away and lock it up, or he will herd it about the yard until he collapses, even in 100 degree heat. He is relentless.

  Toys must be carefully managed, because if left out Samson will grab them and parade them around before his larger pack members, taunting them with his prize. This too has came close to costing him dearly. But he delights in it. Therefore toys are always put away and only brought out when supervision is available to ensure safety for all.

 He is also brave and courageous. Foolish perhaps, but he does not back down from Dogo dominance. Even knowing the risks if I call the dogs from the kitchen patio door, Samson will bravely run out and assist them in quickly responding to my call (not that they need assistance), even if it means a sound tossing to the ground for his efforts.

 When night comes, and everyone has gone outside to do their business and had their nightly "bedtime bone" treat, Samson will walk straight into the bedroom, jump up on the bed, find his spot at the very bottom corner near my feet and he will barely even move until the clock goes off the next morning. Samson knows how to rest fully after having lived a day fully.

 He never gives up on me, he will bring sticks and twigs and bits of weeds he has ripped from the ground and present them to me with such a look of anticipation and delight upon his face, begging me with ever fiber of his being to toss the object that he might run after it. He is persistent. He will do this for hours if you sit outside for hours. He never gives up hope of getting through to me and perhaps enticing me to play.

  God uses Samson to teach me lessons.

Live life fully!

Work hard!

Play hard!

Be brave in the face of danger!

Do what you were created to do no matter the cost!

Be persistent in prayer, never give up on it.

Know when to rest.

When you sleep, sleep hard, sleep in peace.


  Thank You Lord for Samson, who has become so very dear to my heart. I did not ask for him, I did not really want him. I took him in out of love for my son and out of a desire to ease his pain. And yet what a blessing Samson is to me, what a delight he is. Thank You Lord for Samson.....the dog I did not choose, the dog who is dear to my heart.


 

 

Do Not Be Anxious……Lessons from a Big White Dog

We recently took our big white dog Hektor camping. He is getting on up there in years and it had been some time since he traveled anywhere farther than a local walk across the mesa or a stroll along the Rio Grande.

  Hektor was purchased as a pup, but in many ways I view him as a rescue dog. He was 16 weeks old when we delivered him from bondage. He was the sole remaining pup from a large litter. Bred by a hunter with no breeding experience, Hektor was the runt of his litter and most likely had to hustle for food. He had developed a small bald spot on his body and his breeder decided that dipping him in gasoline would alleviate the problem. When my son and I arrived to pick him up he had been washed spotless clean of the mud that had covered him, the kennel where he had been living was basically a massive mud puddle where he had been standing in water a few inches deep. As we talked to the breeders and paid the necessary monies I observed the children “disciplining” the little pup with a slap across the face. So needless to say I think if Hektor could speak he would consider himself to have been rescued.

  From the time we got him, despite a lot of hard work trying to socialize him he has always been my nervous pup. He worries about breakfast, he worries about dinner, he worries about new places and new people and he just doesn’t care much for strangers or strange places.

  Observing him over the course of the three day camping trip I pondered the similarities between myself and Hektor as compared to myself and God.

  Hektor worships me, he believes that I am, he wants desperately to have total faith and trust in me. For the most part he does. With coaching I can get him to do new things, go new places and even allow strangers to examine him and care for him……but he does not rest in that trust. There is always a little piece of him that doubts. Will it really be okay? Will I really get my breakfast this morning? Is it really true that I do not need to fear this new thing? Is it really true that I do not need to attack this scary thing myself? Can I really rely on her to take care of me? Can I really rest in her presence assured that no harm will come?

  As I pondered these things, I heard the still small voice in my soul say “yes child, you do have a lot in common with the big white dog.”

  You see, I worship Jesus Christ, I love Him. Sometimes just thinking about what He has done for me brings tears to my eyes. I desire to follow Him ANYWHERE, to do ANYTHING that He asks me to do. I believe that HE IS! He is EVERYTHING! There is nothing above Him, nothing that comes close to Him. I believe all these things and yet sometimes I still fret.

 It is my desire to walk with Him, wherever He might take me, be it the normal everyday places that I am comfortable with, or some new and frightening place to which I have never been. Yet I expect should that be the call that I will be like my big white dog, happy to be with Him, excited that He is taking me somewhere, but a little anxious about where we are going…….do they serve breakfast there?

 In all seriousness, Christ calls us to follow Him, to do so willingly and in full trust of His ability to provide. Sometimes the places He calls us and the tasks He calls us to are scary, in some cases even life threatening. But we know, we can have full assurance that whatever comes, He is right there with us, and He will provide all that we need.

   Hektor had his anxious moments, those moments when he was not real sure if I had all this, not real sure that he was safe and could relax, but when he finally decided to trust me in these things he had peace and was content to just be with us and relax in our care.

  Hektor was blessed in his journey with me. He got extra breakfast, extra dinner, he hiked at a leisurely pace in cool mountain air, he slept beside swift flowing mountain creeks, he got to sleep by my side in the tent and all in all he enjoyed his trip. Hopefully he learned to trust me just a little more.  Hopefully I can learn from him to trust my Master fully. To have no anxiety about tomorrow, to not worry about what we will eat, or what we will wear, or what choices others we love might be making or not making.

 

 

 Lord, help me trust You in all things, still my anxious heart, calm my restless worried spirit. Help me to rest in the knowledge that wherever I might be led You are right there beside me, and You are my Rock of refuge, there is nothing that I need fear.

 

 

 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.






Coat of white satin, body of tempered steel, heart of the purest of gold”, my Miss Keeter, my friend.

 A Great Heart Goes Silent

   On the 26th day of May, in the year of our Lord 2015, my beloved Miss Keeter, Warrior Princess, Queen of the Pack, passed from this life.

  How does one put words to something for which there really are no words? This is my pathetic attempt to honor the life and death of my bestest (misspelling is intentional) girl, my Miss Keeter, my friend.

 She came to me four years ago, with bones sticking out all over, such a tall and majestic dog, but so skinny. Her toenails were black and soft, and merely striking them against something caused them to fall off and bleed. She lost a few.  She had been starved, she had been mistreated, she had been beaten, and we know this because when she first came to us, if you waved your hand, or a kitchen spoon, or moved in any manner that she perceived as threatening, she would crouch low upon the ground and pee.

 Despite the terrible background, she was full of a zest for life, and a sure and solid hope that love was possible. Oh how she loved, she would lean in close and groan at the very joy of having her body pressed against yours, and the slightest word of praise caused her to dance with joy, she danced and she leapt and glasses flew from tables, and knickknacks crashed to the floor, and even people stumbled and fell to her great dance.

 My task was to foster her, to get her healthy and to teach her manners, for she had no knowledge of anything. The only word she truly understood was no, and this word caused her to crouch low, and tremble. It was a word that she has seldom heard over the course of the last four years, a word not needed, for she lived to please, and teaching her manners was very easy. I obviously failed with the foster part, and could not bear to give her up.

 She came to me during hard times. Both my sons were having hard times, times that despite all my prayers and all my attempts to help, just were not changing, sometimes becoming worse, and my husband had been laid off, and was working out of state to make ends meet. I really needed to make a difference for something. And along came Miss Keeter. Saving her was an honor, a privilege and over these past four years she has taught me more than any other dog, more than I ever thought possible of a dog to teach.

  Keeter taught me about faith, about hope, about love, about dancing in the rain, about worship, about the joy of a moment, about the power of a simple word of praise, she taught me about tenacity, and that the grit and tenacity required to hold down a 300lb pig can also be useful in other circumstances, and that no matter what, you never give up, you never let go,  you keep moving forward, pushing through, and if you knock a few glasses over, or break a favored knickknack, it’s really no big deal. Many journal writings of mine mention “the big white dog” as do several of my blog posts, some just refer to the joy that she brought to me, the feel of her strong head under my hand as we walked, the laughter at her joyful antics, and some detail the profound things that she taught me, about life, about God and about living.

 Her heart just cannot be described, it was huge, it was fierce, and it was beautiful.  She was my dog, although she loved everyone in the family, she gravitated to me, and there was only one brief period where this was not so. Our soldier son came home from war, came home with the heavy burdens that war can place upon the soul. As a family we labored hard to show him love, to show him grace, to help him come home, but in all outward appearances this was to no avail, we could not break through the barriers that were there. But Miss Keeter did, she gravitated to him, she would sit by his side, at the garage door, him smoking and her just sitting there with him, hanging out, leaning into him. She too had known suffering and violence, of a different kind, but still painful, and I think she sensed the need in him, to just have someone sit, and share the pain, without expectations, without fear and worry and anxiety, but to just sit with him. It is my belief that she is the first of our family to connect with the soul of the warrior who came home. For that act alone she will ever have my gratitude.

  I am grateful for the four years we had, and I am trying hard not to be bitter toward those who mistreated her, starved her during formative years causing the very issues that in the end took her life. My youngest son said yesterday that had they not done the things they had done, we would never have had the joy of her in our lives. So I guess that is a lesson for us all in how God can use the awful things and make something beautiful.

 

 My Miss Keeter was brave; she endured the pain of the growing gaps in her spine with grace and tenacity. She never cried, it just kept getting harder and harder for her to get up. She would still charge full speed ahead at any perceived threat, and then stumble and limp back to her bed once the threat had been met.  She lived to please, in the good times, just the sound of her name would bring her leaping, entire body wiggling in joy at the summons, but toward the end, her tail would gently thump, I think even that hurt, and she would look at me with sorrow filled eyes, and gradually, with my coaching and my praise, she would slowly rise, taking faltering steps, front legs bearing most of the weight, and she would make her way to me. On top of all this, she lost her sight, and was pretty much blind. I realized that she would never give up entirely, that she would endure the pain for as long as I kept asking her to endure it, and that is when I realized that I could not ask this of her anymore. It was time. The medicine was not working anymore, and it was tearing up her stomach, causing her to vomit blood and messing up her appetite. It was time for me to say enough, it’s okay my girl, you can go in peace.

 For her last day, I gave her extra pain pills, and we loaded her up in the car, it was hard for her to get in the car, but once again with coaching she did as I asked and heaved herself in, with as much assistance as I could offer her 100 lb. body. At first my intention was to take her to a park, where there is a peaceful fountain, a place where I sat many times, but then I realized that this was my place, where was her place? What was her joy? So we went out on the mesa, and we walked, she rooted for the kangaroo rats and prairie dogs, flushed the quail and the jackrabbits. I wished for her sight back, as I watched huge jackrabbits running before her, she could smell them, but she could not see them. Even so, you could see some of the old Keeter come back, her drive to hunt, her joy in the smells, her tenacity as she crashed through the cactus and the thorns, oblivious to the pain. She took joy in crashing through the middle of a giant puddle, and it was good to see her with mud spattered legs again.

 We sat at the car for a bit, and I gazed at the beautiful view, and scratched her head and ears. We had some water and we headed down the hill to the vet’s office. We were early for our appointment, so we sat under a beautiful tree, in the thick green grass, and we rested and enjoyed each other’s company. I praised her and loved her, scratched her ears and kissed her and fed her lots of cheese and fatty bacon. She would try and sit, but you could tell sitting was painful but she was able to lie down and rest.  Too soon it was time, and we walked inside. Tears filled my eyes as I looked into one of the rooms, with door slightly ajar, and saw the blanket on the floor. I knew that was for us. Sure enough we were escorted to that room, and my brave Miss Keeter went straight to that blanket, plopped herself down and stretched out her legs.  I sat with her, and told her how incredibly awesome she was. I fed her bacon and cheese as they made their preparations.  She passed with her great head in my lap, as I scratched her ears, and fed her cheese. She passed in peace.

 On 5/26/15, at approximately 3:30 PM. A great heart went still and I was left with silence.  

 

“There are various places within which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of a Dogo Argentino named Keeter, whose coat was as white as snow, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought, despite the mistreatment she received at the hands of humans. She will be laid to rest in our back yard, by a flowering bush, overlooking her domain.

  Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, she slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else.

For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes she leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are bent to its force, or beside a stream she knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost -- if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury her in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, she will come to you when you call -- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at her, nor resent her coming, for she is yours and she belongs there.

People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by her footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of her person.

(Original poem by Ben Hur Lampman, edited for our dear Miss Keeter)

 

One of my blog posts about the things she taught me:

http://allisgrace.posthaven.com/taught-wisdom-by-a-dog


And here is a beautiful video telling all of what a dog can be to it's human, if the human will only allow it to take place.

 So God Made a Dog


1/2/2016 This morning I watched a video of my Keeter girl as she danced around the living room, every fiber of her being expressing joy in the moment. I miss her a lot.

   I also wanted to add this one photo to her memorial. It was sent to me by a dear friend. Living here in Albuquerque we often have hot air balloons flying over our house and they are almost always visible in the sky over the city. My Keeter girl HATED the balloons. She saw this as a threat and before she lost her sight she would spot them floating in the sky and she would shout out her defiance to them. This beautiful photo shows hot air balloons floating above the clouds, and one of the clouds to the left of the photo looks like a large white dog. Get em Keeter girl!





Taught Wisdom By a Dog

 I sit here on the back patio, my devotional book in hand, a cold Birch Beer on the table, and a big white dog at my feet. As I read and pray I gaze up at the Sandia Mountains, and the vivid blue skies, communing with my Lord, and she sits and gazes up at me.

 This dog is one of the special ones. All that know me know I love all dogs, and that I love the three that reside at my house and are part of my family. But every now and again there comes along one that is special. This one is one of the special ones.

 She is not much to look at, and any enthusiast of her breed would be quick to point out all her many faults. She looks like a Great Dane, with the head of a Boxer, her backend is higher than her front end, her legs and toes are all gangly and crooked, and she has the worst under bite I have ever seen in a dog. No she’s not much to look at…….but neither am I. She and I have a bond, and she is dear to my heart.

 She has known sorrow in her life, she has suffered, she has known days where there was no love, no breakfast and no dinner.  She first came to us, skinny, browbeaten, with rotten toe nails that fell off her feet if she knocked them against something…….but despite it all, she had a huge heart and all it needed was a little love for it to blossom. She loves big, one must be careful speaking to her as if there is any excitement in your voice she will burst into dance, her entire body wagging, and she will leap with joy, and furniture and plants and drinks on tables will go flying. She loves big.

 As I sit here praying, and as my gaze shifts from the bright blue sky, to the hazel eyes of the big white dog at my feet, I think of my Lord, and how much this big white dog is teaching me about worship. I want to be like her, I want to be content to sit at His feet and gaze upon Him, I want to listen attentively for the sound of His voice, I want to please Him, I want to walk with Him, commune with Him, to live every moment of my existence fully aware of His presence with me. When He speaks I want to be so full of joy at the sound of His voice that I cannot contain myself, bursting into dance, with no thought or worry as to whether I have the rhythm required for such antics.

 I call her to me, as I get ready to leave the house for work, her head in my lap I gently rub her ears and tell her she is good and that I love her. I tell her everything is going to be okay, and she trusts me, she stands sure upon my every word, she looks at me with eyes that say, “Just say the word, and I will lie right down and die for you, if that is what makes you happy”. I truly believe she would, were she able to understand such a request. I want to hold and keep that kind of faith in Jesus, a faith so certain that if he simply says “lay right down and die”, I would do it willingly, gladly and with a song on my lips.

 The older I get, the more I realize that this world is full of instruction, if we only pause and look. Creation really does cry out “there is a God, come and know Him!”   The heavens declare Him, the mountains declare Him, the trees declare Him, and the creatures declare Him!  I look upon this big white dog, and her ungainly body, her bulldog face, her trusting eyes….and I see the hand of our Creator God.

 

““Lord, we thank you for our dogs — your simple gift to us. Open us to what they teach. We thank you for the grateful exuberance of our dogs.

“We thank you for the way they bound across the hills, splash in the waters, chew on sticks, and roll in the dewy grass. Teach us, every day, to say our own ‘thank you’ with every fiber of our being, for the wondrous works of your creation.

“We thank you, Lord, for the honest, direct loyalty of our dogs. We thank you for the wag of their tails and the offer of a cuddle for friend and stranger alike, the way they make people . . . into our neighbors, the way they regard not body type, color of hair, or color of skin. We thank you for the easy way they forgive faults — the way they love us, not because we can love back, but because of our need for love. . . .” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/04/a-prayer-for-dogs/)

 

“I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog.
Simple spelling G O D, same word backwards, D O G.
They would stay with me all day. I'm the one who walks away.
But both of them just wait for me, and dance at my return with glee.
Both love me no matter what - divine God and canine mutt.
I take it hard each time I fail, but God forgives, dog wags his tail.
God thought up and made the dog, dog reflects a part of God.
I've seen love from both sides now, it's everywhere, amen, bow wow.
I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog.
And in my human frailty...I can't match their love for me. “ (God and Dog, by Wendy Francisco)

 

  The above are lyrics to the song “God and Dog”, but few are aware of the story behind that video and song.  The below link tells the story and also has links to the video. Enjoy.

 

http://www.guideposts.org/pets/story-behind-god-and-dog-youtube-video



 

Just a Dog, an Ode to Chief

 Today a friend drives to the vet, her dear friend Chief going for his final ride. He has been doing poorly, can hardly walk anymore and it is time to ease his suffering. My friend hurts. I know exactly how she feels. Chief is not "just a dog", he is a beloved family member, a friend and companion. 

 I have seen many photos of him, froliking in the snow with his buddy Sienna. He is such a beautiful boy.

 Go with God Chief, you were a good boy, you did what you were created to do, you loved your humans, loved your friends, loved the snow and the cold and a good frolic, you loved........and you did it well. Run now, with the Great Shepherd.

JUST A DOG

From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog,"
or "that's a lot of money for just a dog."

They don't understand the distance travelled, the time spent,
or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."

Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog,"
but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought aobut by
"just a dog," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch
of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you probably understand
phrases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."

"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship,
trust, and pure unbridled joy.
"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience
that make me a better person.
Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look
longingly to the future.

So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog"
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future,
the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts
away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that its' not "just a dog"
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being
"just a man" or "just a woman."

So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog,"
just smile,
because they "just don't understand."

~Unknown Author~


Chief "Wenbrooke's Red Oktober" , you were many things, but never "just a dog".


Ode to a Dog

   Yesterday, exact time unknown, a dog passed from this world, and another was seriously injured. Most likely this tragedy was one among thousands and thousands that occurred.

People died yesterday, some of them in horrible ways.

Dogs died yesterday, some of them in horrible ways.

   But yesterday, exact time unknown a much loved dog passed from this world and another much loved dog was seriously injured.

   I did not know this dog, have never sat on a couch with her, never petted her never spoke her name, yet she was dear to me. I have viewed a hundred photos of her in my Facebook feed; have Liked a few here and there when I have the time to take notice.  Almost always in these photos of this dog, and the one injured, were one or two little girls. So often were these two young ladies in the photos with these two dogs that I had to spend some time going through all these photos to even find one that was just the dogs.

 

Just as I have never met these two dogs, I have never met these two little girls who love them, but the various photos I have seen over time; clearly show the great love that exists between these little humans and their canine friends. Photos of them curled in bed, photos of them sleeping on couches, photos with laughing child faces and happy content canine ones. Beautiful photos, yet the sort that slip past you for the most part……until a day like today, a day when you know one dog has died and the other is fighting to survive her injuries, and you know that two little girls are heartbroken….you know that their mom, who also loved these two dogs, is dying inside, for the loss of the dog and the sorrow of watching her two little girls deal with this tragedy.

Who knows what happened. Somehow a door was open and the two dogs went on an adventure, as dogs are prone to do. Perhaps it was something else entirely, as the following letter was posted to Facebook today.....

"Girls I got your names from another angel friend. I understand you are the loving earth friends of Gigi and Livy Grace, my earth angel dogs. I have a serious problem here in heaven and I am hoping you will understand. I am the angel that helps animals as they come to heaven. Last week I had several special dogs that preformed miracles and saved their forever friends on earth. Rex climbed into a burning building and saved two children. His injuries were so severe I called him home to heaven. Oscar and Buster were protecting soldiers and after saving their lives, they both were called to heaven. I have lots of things that have happened and I can't find enough dog angels to help me with these four pawed heroes. I have heard such wonderful things about Gigi and Livy Grace and I understand how much you love them. They both have told me so much about you! I stopped by yesterday to speak with you girls and your Mom and Dad. I knocked on your door but no one answered. I opened the door a little bit to talk to Gigi and Livy Grace. I told them how much I needed them to help me out and let them know I would wait to hear from them. Gigi thought about it and said she would help. Livy Grace has not made a decision yet. If you girls would please say a prayer for Gigi, she is sitting here in heaven beside Oscar and helping him so much. Thank you both for being such good friends of Gigi on earth. She says to tell you she will love you forever and to pray for her as she will be Oscars helping angel. She wants you to pray for Oscar’s soldier. His name is Smitty and he is having a hard time. God loves you and so do all the animal angels. I'll check in with Livy Grace and see what she wants to do later. Take care earth angels and lover of animals......”

Whatever happened, this family is hurting, these two little girls are hurting, this mom, and dad are hurting, and Livy Grace is hurting.

One minute everything is wonderful, you are home, planning dinner, and the next you are out frantically looking for your two missing furbabies………..and then you are dealing with the worst of news……..struck by car….

Gigi was killed instantly... Livy Grace terribly injured……she made it through the night…….countless prayers are going up all over the country………but we just don’t know yet.

So the next time you are out, and you see that lost dog, and you think to yourself of how very busy you are, instead of whispering a prayer……stop. Find it. Take it home, take it to the pound, but don’t leave it loose. You never know how much heartache you might be preventing…..

 And as to the person who hit these two dogs, it was someone in an SUV. They did not stop, they did not slow down...they just kept on driving, one dog dead in the street and the other in agony. The lady behind this person stopped, and struggled alone to load two large dogs into her truck, people passed by her, no one helped. This angel in a pick up is responsible for saving Livy Grace's life. We don't know her name, but we pray a multitude of blessings be poured down upon her. We pray also for the people who kept on going, that they might slow down, and consider things, and feel compassion. It's a sad world, that so many will not take time to care, to care about an injured animal, to care enough to assist a fellow human...but its a beautiful world also, because of those who do take the time to care.

“There are various places within which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of a Gigi, whose coat was as white as the snow, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought.

Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, she slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else.

For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes she leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream she knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost -- if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury her in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, she will come to you when you call --come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at her, nor resent her coming, for she is yours and she belongs there.

People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by her footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing. The one best place to bury a good dog is in your heart.”

Where to Bury A Dog, by Ben Hur Lampman (adapted for Gigi)

Rest in peace Gigi girl, you were a good dog, rest now in the hearts of those who loved you most.

We contine to pray for Livy Grace and for all her humans. The last report received is that Livy is hanging in there and that she has followed peoples movements with her eyes. This is good news as first reports were that she might have lost her eyesight. Livy Grace is deaf so we are praying hard that she will be able to see.

Please join us in praying for this dog and her humans. And don't forget to add some prayers for Smitty.

(letter from angel courtesty of Sandra Clark Yebba)