A short while before Dad’s ill health seized center stage, he began hankering for a new pet.
“Sure wish I had a big dog, not a little yappy one, a real man’s dog that I can talk to.”
His old cat, Boots, seemed to suffer from countless social and mental deficiencies. He had taught her to play ping-pong, a video moment that could have won him a sizable income. Other than that, she wasn’t a good buddy with whom you could converse.
Loving him, and realizing how this yen for a dog could be just what the doctor ordered, his bride of nearly forty years became a constant visitor to the animal shelter.
On the point of giving up, an ad in the paper sent her scurrying over to a woman who had worked in veterinary offices. She had lavished love, attention, and training on a huge Doberman-German Shepherd mix named Blue. This dog looked like she could eat you for breakfast but was the sweetest, most docile girl you’ve ever seen.
Dad was overjoyed. He loved her immediately and the feeling was mutual. It was a match made in Heaven, and besides, she could talk. Well, it sounded like talking, in fact in long sentences with lots of feeling. It was almost like singing. Poor thing had spent years nursing numerous litters of babies, so she probably had a lot to say.
Dad finally became too ill to come home. Restless from pain and discomfort, he wanted to hear about his dog. “ I sure wish I could see my Blue one more time.”
I could not get to his house fast enough to grab the video camera to capture her every move. My brother hauled his small television with a built-in VCR to Dad’s hospital room.
As we watched his huge canine pal sitting, walking, yawning, eating, sleeping, and chasing a stick, he was so weak, all he could do was smile. She wrote the script. All I did was record her every move. Who cared if it played well in Peoria, this was a one man screening and Miss Blue won an Oscar. One of his last requests to his wife was to please take good care of his wonderful dog.
Blue was a comfort, but also a good distraction. As grief was faced, all the effort it took to tend to her needs was a blessing. She was a lamb in wolf’s clothing. Those ferocious looks were deceiving, because one clap of thunder sent her bounding behind anything she could find, even squeezing into the closet. We never could figure out why it was so frightening to her.
Also, she could count. If you told her she could have three cookies but only gave her two, she would wait with ears alert, then begin those long sing- song sentences. It was so comical; we always let her remind us of the miscount.
Her favorite past time was riding in the van. When she saw her human companion getting ready to leave, believing every trip should include a dog, she would begin galumphing around in a happy dance. On the Sabbath, she was told very sweetly, “I’m sorry dear, today is Sunday school and you have to stay here.”
Immediately, Blue would slink off to the corner, slump down in a pity-puddle, cross her paws and drop her head as if she had been beaten. It was so touching, you almost wanted to put a hat on her and surprise them at church. No matter the destination, the word Sunday school was her code for “ not invited.”
One Sunday morning, Charles Stanley, a wonderful pastor in Atlanta, was on television. When he began preaching, and with no code word spoken, Blue schlepped over to the poor- me- corner, crossed her paws, bowed her head, and sighed with resignation. From then on, all it took was Dr. Stanley’s voice, and she was off to pout, drama queen until the end.
Her amazing ability to communicate was a testament to an answered prayer for a “big dog to talk to.” It was our secret that she was a ninety-pound, muscle bound chassis with a kitty-cat heart.
I’ve always meant to write to Dr. Stanley and let him know his sermons could make a grown dog collapse in a desolate, brooding heap. He may not be aware of the power unleashed by the sound of his ministering voice. Either that, or it was something he said.