A TRUE STORY – IT IS A DOG’S LIFE….
As a dog lover I found this story very touching and really think empty nesters and all fibromites should have a dog including me. It really is a lovely story and I do believe it is true. I have read chapters and verse about the potential wellbeing a dog can bring to those who are terminally unwell. Sudi sent this to me a while ago and I shared it with Carole – my THUNDER AND LIGHTING reader. She felt it was beautiful. Maybe I will get the tissues out.
A Father, a Daughter and a Dog
A true story by Catherine Moore
“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 was not prepared for another battle.
“I saw the car, Dad . Please do not yell at me when I am 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 not 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 could not 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 counselling 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. 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 proved 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 in the shadows of the far corner, a dog 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 hip bones 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 have 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 are going to kill him?”
“Ma’am,” he said gently, “that is our policy. We do not 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 do not 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!” I said,
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 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 Dick, 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 Dick and I buried him near a favourite 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. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
“I have 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.
Life is too short for drama or petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time.
But do share this with someone who maybe needs a dog’s devotion. Lost time can never be found. God answers our prayers in His time……..not ours.
Dogs can also be good companions for those who are disabled, unable to see or suffer as a fibromite . For some folk dogs act as service dogs, fetching, carrying and sharing great affection. They go to war, help solve crimes and really are man’s and woman’s best friend.
I had a Great Dane just like Cheyenne. My dog was destined to spend her life in kennels because she was not perfect enough for Crufts Dog Show. But I took her and loved her until she died in 2002. It was just months later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The experts suggested losing my Great Dane could have contributed to the stress that triggered my health problem. I would do it all again given the chance with better health.
Every breed was created for a reason, and the companion dogs are no exception. Their job is to keep people company, perhaps the most important work a dog can do, claims http://www.dogtimecom With pictures an details about breeds this site is all you need right now to help you decide what sort of dog might suit you.
The sites tell us some potential pets are miniaturized versions of working dogs. Some were created solely as beautiful lap dogs–but without exception, they are all dog.
Often lady owners pamper small dogs with ribbons and these are carried about in their own handbag. The tiniest of them have no idea that they are not as big or strong as other dogs, and they have the heart and courage of a Mastiff concealed in their small bodies.
That is an endearing quality, but it also means they need to be protected from themselves. Often little dogs will take on bigger dogs or even human intruders and can easily be injured or killed for their trouble.
In size they range from tiny four-pounders to sturdier 20- to 40-pounders. As a group, they are housedogs, unsuited to living outdoors. Their main goal in life is to be with their people and they will wilt if left to themselves for long hours day after day.
Some small dogs need grooming by an expert – wash and shampoo and maybe a trim. Big dogs you turn the hose on, lather them and hose it off on a warm sunshine day.
Give some serious thought to the size of the dog you like. Will a dog big and strong to protect you, pull you over. Are you up to regular walking to exercise him or would you prefer a handbag pet that usually gets enough exercise around the house. Will you have a pedigree pet or save some poor dog from possible death in a dog’s home. If you adopt a dog you do need to know his history and ask if he barks a lot – worried about the neighbours.
We moved house, as we loved our dog, an English setter, more than we did our neighbours. Trouble was the dog’s breed led them to “sing” if you can call it that. As soon as we left the house to go to work, she would start singing and stop immediately we drove up the drive. She must have had a built in time clock.
Our neighbours were not fond of her singing voice. If you are working, leaving a dog all morning is asking for trouble. Another English Setter bit through the cold water feed to my washing machine about 9.30am. How she got around the back is still a wonder. At lunch time the whole ground floor was flooded and we were under insured.
We reached a climax sort of. Him indoors said heatedly, “Either the dog goes or I go”.
The dog did not pay the bills sadly so she went to farm to work where she was much happier and able to sing in the farmyard without offended anyone. She was a gun dog and needed o work.
If you take in a female dog do remember you should not take her out when she is on heat or you may end up in the middle of a dog fight.
There is a lot to thing about. Without a doubt the dog’s companionship is really worthwhile but looking after and being responsible for a dog needs some thought.
If you have family willing to take your dog for walks when you are under par or exhausted, this would certainly be a plus. Maybe the husband of your neighbour who has always wanted a dog but the wife said ‘no might volunteer. He might be your knight in shining armour. Might be wise to mention the dog to your neighbours.
OTHER THINGS TO BUY
You will need a good collar and lead, feeding bowl, drinking bowl, brush to keep the dog’s body coat clean, dog’s bed – bad practice to let them sleep with you if the dog is big. My Boxer slept against the wall in my single bed and I often finished up on the floor as she stretched and stretched even more. It was that or she did more damage in the kitchen overnight. Puppies like babies do have teething troubles and they teeth on things that belong to you.
Your dog must learn to obey you and a little biscuit will always serve as a reward for getting it right. You will need to locate your nearest vet should you need one.
Some folks have a small identity chip inserted under the skin of the dog. It is relatively painless I am told but helpful if your dog gets lost. A scanner will soon know who your dog belongs to.
Yes they bring a lot of love and a lot of work – dog’s hairs on the chairs, in the car, in the butter, on the bed covers – everywhere. If you wash them in the bath, you will have a dirty tub.
You should also think about pet insurance in case of theft or accidents. If you travel abroad for holidays and plan to take your dog I guess the dog will need a “passport” or the necessary papers. Plan ahead if that is what you hope to do. A vet will put you right on the required injections for the dog’s injections depending where you are going on holiday. .
If you are leaving your dog behind you may need a sitter. I am telling you all these things as a non dog owner.
BED AND BREAKFAST FOR DOGS
I now think I should have asked my good friend Teresa to write this as she is really up to speed. Teresa Jane White has 5 dogs and is amazing with pets of all shapes and sizes. She knows everything there is to know about dogs and is always looking for a docile Great Dane for me to love.
If you are off for a long romantic weekend and do not want your other ‘sleeping partner’ to know – the dog – Teresa will look after your pet with tender love and care. Her dogs have an enormous green grass play ground -no long rows of kennels. All her dogs are family whether they are with her for one day or a month. A stay with Teresa’s ‘family’ is really a dog’s holiday. They make new friends, have meals together, chat a lot and let of a bit of steam with wagging tails, and it is a real holiday. If you are enjoying yourself, you would hope your dog is having a good time too I am sure.
This is the bit from the website that I like: What your dogs have at home they can have here as well, so if you have a pooch that sleeps on the bed, then they can share our bed here as well; or if they prefer a quiet kitchen / living-room for their nights, then that is available too!!
She also does B&B – bed and breakfast for dogs only. Teresa does insist no uncastrated male dogs, after the age of 9 months, especial not even for B&B. Talk soon. Jeanne