He's never pulled me from a burning building or tugged me out of raging water; he's never taken a bullet for me. Unlike Peritas who bit the lip of a charging elephant and saved Alexander The Great, he hasn't helped forge an empire.
No, I guess he won't go down in history books. So, maybe it's up to me to tell you his story.
“Look at that one, George! He's the biggest of the litter and has a full white collar. Let's test him. And this one has such a beautiful coat! I see three, maybe four possibilities.”
George and I had driven to a small North Carolina farm to choose a puppy from the litter of nine Australian Shepherds. Exuberance overflowed the holding pen and filled the air with puppy-yelps and chaotic fun.
Rolling the puppies onto their backs, George tested the selected ones for signs of annoyance by rubbing tummies and gently squeezing paws, simple tests to reveal temperaments otherwise hidden at this early age.
As we worked with each chosen candidate, we had to keep returning an escapee to the puppy pen. Not one of the standouts, he continued to break free of the noisy chaos and follow us.
Grab him! What's he doing? Get back in there little fellow! Here he is again! How's he getting out? Watch your feet, he's right there under you!
That's the day Gentleman Gemstone chose us... without so much as a temperament test. Would he have picked us had he known we could be irritable when acceptance better fit the situation? Would he have chosen our home had he known it would not always be cheerful? Would he want us if he knew we were too old to be high-energy, too human to control tempers, too moody to offer reliable routines?
Somehow this seven-week-old wonder knew we needed him. Perhaps, God who created him, knows more about submission than all the temperament tests combined and decided to use him to turn our Grrr moments into Grr-ace ones.
Naming him was easy with his white diamond atop the russet head he carries high as any well-bred gentleman might. His call-name is Stone, a reminder of tenacity and reliability.
Thirteen years now, Stone has shared life's dynamic dance with us and taught us the meaning of loyalty and love. We're learning how to grow old with grace by watching him struggle to climb onto a sofa that his once muscular, athletic form would have cleared effortlessly.
Cold, wet weather brings pain and discomfort to his senior body, but his spirit is unscathed. His greeting hasn't waned; his love of life hasn't grown cold. He still finds it rewarding to chase the squirrels from the bird feeders. He never shirks his duty to protect us no matter how great the danger or how worn out his body.
Looming on the horizon is the day when we wake up and he is gone from our midst. Please, Heavenly Father, we pray we will never have to choose to put him down. Spare us that.
I could fill a book with life-lessons learned by watching Stone grow old with grace. There was a time not so long ago when I, too, could run like the wind.
When challenged by a jar I can't open or a box I can't lift and tears cloud my vision, I wipe my eyes on my sleeve and press on. That's a Stone-lesson.
Maybe, he has saved me from drowning after all. Even as I write this, he sits at my feet and reaches up to lick away my tears.
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