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Of Faith And Fables
By Bob Haynes
It’s A Dog Thing
It was a poignant moment in my bucket list journey. The trip (part one) culminated in Bentonville, Arkansas where we stayed with my adopted brother and sister Don and Wylene Cohagan. One of the “items” in my agenda was to complete all the arrangements for my funeral and thus relieve my family of non-essential stress.
In between non-stop visits by wonderful friends, we met with our minister to begin the process and make some decisions about such things as music, scripture, special purchases such as casket, money matters etc. At the end of the discussion Reverend Rex Dickey asked all those present to gather around my chair and have a prayer. As they began to surround me, our dog Angel jumped into my lap. Not the normal thing for her to do in such circumstances but I didn’t realize her intended purpose. As Rex spoke, Angel put her head down on my leg, closed her eyes and was obviously in prayer with us. What a blessing brought about by an animal who has become so precious to me and who has shown over and over that she understood the circumstances of our gathering and the illness that had changed our lives. It was another “God and Dog” thing.
I have found that statistics show the relationship between pets and family members are so very, very important. For instance, I found several studies that showed that while most families report that their pet is of great importance to them at all times, they value them most at times of crisis and loss. In a paper by Froma Walsh Cain, she found that most family respondents believed that their pets understood when they talked to them and that their pets were sensitive to their moods.
Family members reported that their pets were ‘‘tuned in’’ to their feelings, whether happiness, excitement, tension, sadness, or anger. When family members were sick or injured, their pets were very responsive, often licking a wounded area or curling up close to offer comfort. Some described their companion animals as ‘‘live-in’’ therapists. That was certainly true of Angel’s response to the request to join in a prayer for me.
Family pets are also welcomed additions no matter what the circumstance and give us many memorial moments to reflect upon and smile about. That reminds me of another story about a dog… this one a male dog belonging to my daughter Sara’s family. I’m still smiling about this revelation that came to me because of the close tie between animal and human.
My son-in-law Cliff has a most unique philosophy about the family’s pets. One, in particular is Bo Jangles, a mixed breed with boundless energy and a craving to greet anyone who comes close to their home adjacent to number 12th green at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond. When anyone drives by on their golf cart, Bo is there to run to the fence, bark loudly and announce his presence.
While others would cringe at the thought of such antics, Cliff calmly states, “Well, He’s a Dog” that’s what they do. To those who differ and wish for him to restrain Bo, he tells them “You talk to him.” I love it.
Bo has learned some manners however that show how intelligent he is. When the golfers reach the green Bo sits down, closes his mouth and watches the golfers putt. It is only after they leave the green does his attention return once again to his job of barking and running back and forth along the fence. Having a chance to spend time with Bo and his running mate Abby put continuous smiles on my face.
After visiting with family in Oklahoma and in Minnesota and returning home to Bentonville, I know how blessed I have been and how God has continued to work in my life and in those around me. Part two of my bucket list article will soon follow. Meanwhile say a prayer for your pet(s) and know how they bring special blessings to you and your family. Shalom!