by Anne Palmer
As I sit here in my usual spot, at our old kitchen table, gazing out our bay window, admiring the lush green grass all the rain has brought, my two pups, Nala the Black Lab and Bentley the English Cream Retriever sit and sleep at my feet.
If you peeked into my world at this very moment, you would imagine one of peace, zen, a loving and warm sanctuary for our family, whether they be two-legged or four-legged beings.
And most of the time, this is quite true. Yet as every one of us in this mad world marches on in our busy days and lives, life bestows upon us unexpected surprises. Some are miraculous and beautiful, some are devastating and dreadful. The good and the bad, the yin and the yang, the light trying to overcome the dark.
Those of us who are animal lovers are usually the ones who appreciate the simple beauties and love shared with us from them, whether they are domesticated or wild. With that, usually comes a love and appreciation for nature and all the triumphant splendor it brings to us each day. For our little family, dogs happen to be our companions of choice. They are our other family members who join us on this journey of life, and thanks to them, they keep us grounded, remind us without speaking, of what is really important, and how love and loyalty are two priceless and sacred traits humans could use more of.
Many of us dog lovers wonder if it’s just a fluke that dog spelled backwards is god? A friend recently gave us a plaque with the following sentiment engraved on it:
God sent angels down to Earth in the form of dogs with notes saying “Don’t judge, just love.” They ate the notes but they keep trying to deliver the message.
If you’ve ever loved a dog, you know exactly what this means how true these words are.
Last year, in late May, my two dogs, Sadie and Chudley went to meet my friend and her beloved Great Pyrenees for our morning neighborhood walk. That fateful morning a most randomly tragic event occurred. One that would scar and change our family and me forever.
Sadie, our yellow Lab, and Chudley, are goofy Chocolate Lab, and I met our friends on the side of the road, when out of nowhere, a giant truck from behind me came and hit them, swiped me on my side, where I was knocked down to the ground, witnessing the site and sound of my angels in agony. I thought for a split second that it would be my time to go too. As the hell and tragedy were breaking around me faster than the speed of light it seemed, I braced myself for the hurt, but thanked the big guy in the sky for the time and life I was blessed to have. To my shock, I survived. I got back up and watched the huge truck drive away. Not speeding, even stopping at the three-way stop sign, it drove off, while I screamed in shock and horror. My two babies lay on the road squashed, bleeding, but still smiling if you can believe it. My dear friend and her Great Pyrenees were unharmed, and she dialed 911. Help came, but for my dogs, there was no emergency transport for them. Luckily, and I still refer to her as an angel who came just when the urgency arose. Our other neighbor happened to be driving by and pulled over to take my two babies to the vet for immediate medical treatment.
After I made it out of E.R. I went to visit Sadie and Chudley at the vet. I was in shock and knew that the outcome for them wouldn’t be as fortunate as mine. They had saved my life. Sadie had to be euthanized as her whole back end was completely demolished. Chudley they thought had a fighting chance. They transferred him to a high care facility where he could have around the clock care. Two days later, we learned there was too much internal damage for him to make it. With broken hearts, we said our good-byes to him. Saying good-bye to Sadie and Chudley was the hardest and most horrific thing we have ever experienced. The pain we felt will always haunt us, and I forever carry great guilt and shame of not being able to save them.
The media was abuzz with this story as cameras on nearby houses had caught moments of this tragedy as it unfolded that morning. The police eventually caught the suspect, who ironically happened to be a local dog walker. It was the most sad chain of events one could imagine. A nightmare that was real.
Our family spent the summer in mourning, in brokenness and darkness. The outpour of love, support, and kindness that came to us was humbling to our core. We could not have gotten through such a harrowing time without all of the love from people in our community and beyond. People we didn’t even know supported us through the storm. It was amazing and touching to our shattered hearts and souls. From this tragedy, writing about it became my refuge. I was able to create a book in Sadie and Chudley’s honor, titled Finding a Voice for the Love of Dogs. This was one small tribute to them and all the dogs who have passed before us. Dogs bring in so much light to our worlds and lives. They are the stars who light up the night skies.
We talk a lot about how much our dogs did for us, day in, day out. They did not ask for much. They gave without keeping score. Dogs are the role models for us humans on how to live well and with integrity. Our dogs are our angels, forever with us, and teaching us on how to live life fully, treasure each moment, love without judgement, and forgive easily.
I am in healing mode and weekly therapy helps me with PTSD. Our family is in rebuilding mode. Daily we reflect upon the unconditional love we have been so lucky to receive from our dogs. Past and present. With each sunset, we send out a silent prayer to our fallen dogs, and thank them for everything they gave us. We do see a lot of them in our new puppies, Nala and Bentley. The wonderful book A Dog’s Purpose, speaks volumes to us.
Dogs come into our lives to teach us how to be better people. They truly are a gift from God. Just like the plaque our friend gave us. We are forever grateful to them. Dogs make us better human beings