Recycling – Will make you cry

A Father, Daughter & a Dog
story by Catherine Moore

“Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!” My father yelled at me.

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

“I saw the car, Dad.   Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.”   My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts…   Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.

At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.

Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue.

Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session, he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.

Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, “I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article…”

I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.

Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His 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’ve heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.” He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in, I turned to the man in horror. “You mean you’re going to kill him?”

“Ma’am,” he said gently, “That’s our policy. We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.”

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

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust “If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it.” Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. “You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying.”

Dad ignored me. “Did you hear me, Dad?” I screamed. At those words, Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne . Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend 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 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’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…

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.

God answers our prayers in His time…not ours.

Note:  Found this while searching my email for something else.  It was all over Facebook and may still be.  I had a strong picture in my mind of the people, especially the old man and the dog.  I went looking for a pointer, grizzled.  This guy fit my mind’s eye of an Angel stopping by.  Staying on the lookout for God’s miracles.

62 thoughts on “Recycling – Will make you cry

  1. :'( I’m sorry your dad died. But I’m glad that Father loved him enough to send him a dog to help him cheer up a bit. Depression isn’t a fun thing to have. I sure wish we could afford a dog like Cheyenne. Thank you for posting this. It touched my soul.

    • Cimmie, I didn’t write this. Catherine Moore did. Thank you for the kind comment. My own father passed away at age 58. I am glad this touched your soul – mine, too.

  2. Yes, it did make me cry. It’s lovely to read of such a bond between man and dog.
    I popped over from ‘Dealing with COPD’ to visit you – and I’m glad I did.

    • And to you, Paulette. Especially to you, who started the first no-kill shelter in Ventura, California and give all your books profits to fund it. You are a true loving friend to the four footers in our family.

      • Aww, bless your sweet heart. To set the record straight, I didn’t start the clinic but do contribute to it with all the profits from my book going to support it. We all do what we can. I’m only one cog in the big wheel that got this no-kill shelter up and running and continuing. Your kind words of support mean the world to me. Thank you.

        • Record is straight for any future postings I do about your fabulous work – thanks! P, your book is next in line. Looking forward to reading it. I didn’t realize that was a picture of your family on the cover!

        • The cover photo is my husband’s great grandfather, great grandmother, and great aunt. It fit with the time frame of the story and that there were two women and a male as the main characters, so we thought it a nice cover to use. Hope you enjoy the read. xoxo

  3. What a beautiful story Huntie! And so appropriate today, for me. I am struggling, as you know, & also struggling with my faith. When I helped my Grandmother “cross over” my faith was strong & has remained strong but in the background for many years. Just now though I am wondering about it. Will it help me?

  4. Huntie, this beautiful story wanted to make me cry, but instead, God and His care and love for us shone through and made me smile. I’ve been working on a post about God and His calendar and will be posting in a day or so. Again, I see His hand working. This is such a lovely post and companion to that post that I am going to reblog. Theother night, wrapped in a quilt, sipping on hot cocoa, I was thinking on these lines. You were there all wrapped up as well giving encouragement and now I know why.

  5. Hunt, you know I love you. I love everything you write (almost), I love the teasing, the jabs, the soft words. But I don’t like starting my day crying. This story broke me up, Even now long minutes after I finished reading it I continue to type with blurred vision. Thank you. Please take care, and continue to be there. Bill

    • In my defense, Bill, I gave fair warning – right there in the title. It’s a tear jerker, I know. That would be a rough way to start your morning. May you find something light-hearted to balance the tears. Best ~ Hunt

      • Oh I managed, I think I wrote about drug induced dreams. LOL LOL. What a change of pace. Yet Hunt, I know I will read this again, I know at some point in the future this post will come to mind and I will seek it out, tears and all. Take care, Bill

        • And, there’s the newest one, posted today (1/29/14) re Puppies, Clydesdales, Romance & Budweiser – that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, Bill!

          • Huntie, it was only a few months ago that I 1st read this, and had me a crying fit. This morning is no different, I can barely see the screen and the keyboard is a mess. Such a wonderfully touching story. It truly is, and has reached deeply into me and touched me again. Take care, Bill

            • There are just some stories that can do that to us and then heal us in the outpouring of being touched at the heart and soul level. There is one for me that never fails. You’ve brought it to mind and I may need to post it soon. That one is guaranteed to bring these tears that wash our hearts clean.

  6. *sigh* So many days, I’ve prayed for a dog, to be honest. I try not to talk about it too much, because it eventually makes Cimmy cry. But I do want a dog. And I want a service trained dog. For our son, too. But I don’t have the $15k or so needed to train such a one.

      • Not sure what breed would be best. Labrador, border collie have been suggested. My son has a problem with wandering sometimes, and so I thought of herding or hunting breeds, especially one large enough that could handle being tackled by my son.

        For me, though, I need a dog that would be attentive to my mood swings and tonic spasms. A dog that could be calm when I am triggered– anxiety attacks, the complex PTSD, all of that.

        • Jak, I see how the right dog would be good for all of you. You said something about $15k for training, so it sounds like you’ve done research on this. I don’t know that much, but I know we have a lot of organizations, both professional and volunteer that do train and work with service dogs. Have you reached out to any of them? And if you want privacy, by all means email me. Best ~ HuntMode

    • Have you checked with state/local groups? You do not have to train the dog yourself. We have a local group, Paws with a Cause – that consists of persons who train service animals. many of these dogs are “last chance” dogs, dogs that are rescued from kill shelters. If they show an aptitude, they are trained. if not, they go to a good home! check with that first. My uncle, who has done 3 shifts in Afghanistan, ended up getting such a service dog. He suffers from PTSD something awful and resulting depressing and mood swings from that. His dog is trained to help him cope with that – amazining ly enough! And the dog in the story had no training – just a loving angel who bonded with the person he needed to be with. Of course, my uncle needs more specialized care. Fitzy helps him when he freaks – cuddles close, guards him, even leading him away to a different location to break that cycle, such as from one part of the yard to another. it is amazing. Fitzy is a rescued hunting dog, no special breed so to speak. So check and see what you can find out about local groups who do this. if you are a vet, yu may even qualify for a service dog.

      • I’m not a military veteran, and yes, I know about the “train-yourself” option, but I don’t trust myself to do all the rigorous training that I believe is necessary– not just for my situation, but also my son’s.

        I was in contact with Brigadoon Dogs in Bellingham– that’s too far away. I learned there is an agency in Portland that trains dogs for kids with autism (my son has autism) but have not contacted them yet.

        Personally, I’m just very tired and overwhelmed with all the pain and problems in my life right now– I’ve been at this for a few years now, but just haven’t had the energy/time/resources to completely follow through.

        • I can sympathathize with hard it is. It really does drain. The group in our area, Paws with a Cause, does the training, not you. That was the option I was putting out for you – there may be groups that do that and then place the animals. Everything always seems to be far away, doesn’t it? And when stressed, it is even further and difficult to deal with. I am so very sorry about this. My husband’s first cousin has a son who is Autistic – he is 14 now and tends to want to wander and isn’t mainstreamable. He is sweet kid and it has taken him 13 years of marriage to my husband to stay close to me when we have family gatherings, which isn’t often as they are in Texas. His father left the family when Jack was 4 because of the autism so his mom has basically dealt with it all herself with some help from her sister who is in the area but has problems of her own. I’ll add you and your family to my daily prayers – help for all of you and strength.

  7. The first time I read this, I put my head down and boohooed like a little girl. it is a great story and teaches much about compassion, faith, and the saving love of our best teachers – animals.

    • I still cry, Kanzen. Now, get your little butt over and read the one about Father’s Day and stories to make you laugh! I published five today so far, so I think that one is a little further down the scroll bar!

      • You and mr. Hotspur are determined to make me cry. I’ll go forthwith and read the one you said wouldn’t make me cry. after I finish my nails. I’m putting on a lovely shade of lavender.

            • I always do my toes in turquoise! regardless of fingers. Toes = turquoise. I’ve always wanted little faces tattooed in the bottom of my toes so when I am covered and my feet poking out at the end of my life, little smiley faces are greeting those who will cremate me. It’s weird, but it’s kinda fun too. One time I was rubbing BooBoo’s feet and I looked at the bottom of his toes. I went and got a sharpee and put little faces on every one of them. he almost had a fit. all the little piggies had different little faces….a friend did this to me one time when I was passed out on her couch, years ago. She said she looked at those itty little toes and well…..we all have our strangenesses.

  8. I recall this wonderful story before, Huntie and even now it is as if I read it for the first time. My heart lurched in the right places. Sorry your father passed away, but you did a wonderful thing for him to make the time he had left. That dog waited for him at the gate to the animal shelter. Wow.

      • Still, this was a grabbing story.
        My Lady G. comes and sleeps on my lap as I type or she likes to bury her nose on the inside of my elbow. My typing is restricted but she makes me smile. After a while, she looks at me and jumps off to find another place to sleep. Guess my arms shakes too much while I type. Ha ha.
        And what about your find furry friends? Tell me a story.

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