Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Such a wonderful story!!!~


            By Catherine Moore

 'Watch out! You nearly

 broadsided 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. 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 and 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.

 Something had to be done and it was up to me to do


  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  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


  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 queezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my


  '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


  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

 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

 favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the

 help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of


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


 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 & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly, and

 forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Tell the

 people you love that you love them, at

every opportunity. Forgive now those who made you cry.

 You might not get a second