By Del Duduit
I was reminded of the old saying this past week that a dog is man’s best friend.
A pooch has always been in my life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a canine to come home to every day. There is nothing quite like a dog’s unconditional love and companionship. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, your furry friend is always glad to see you.
About 17 days ago, Oscar showed up unannounced in our flower bed. No one in the neighborhood had seen him before, which indicated someone had dropped him off. He was sick, his eye was matted shut, and he featured a limp.
He was a sweetie. A big one-year-old slobbering puppy mix between a German Shephard and a Rottweiler. He was clumsy and craved love. Every time I gave him attention, I had to change my clothes because he left slimy and wet Oscar nuggets all over my pants or shirt. His tongue was a huge and sloppy weapon.
Should I keep him? The thought ran through my mind about a dozen times. We lost Max about a year earlier after we kept him for about 16 years. He was as loyal a dog God ever made. He never took a stroll around the yard without his toy duck in his mouth. That was also how he greeted everyone.
But we have grown accustomed to not having the responsibility of taking care of another four-legged friend.
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We have a cat that showed up this summer and hasn’t left. But felines are survivors. They don’t dictate the care that a dog endures on you.
I can’t keep him, I pondered. But he loved me and even made himself at home in Max’s old dog house. I went so far as to put a wreath on the dog house door to celebrate Christmas and make him feel at home.
We decided to contact Sierra’s Haven, a no-kill shelter that tries to find homes for domestic animals. If no one wanted him, then we would keep him. A Facebook post went out across the state and within hours, we had several responses. I was amazed. One person called me from Cleveland, a four-hour trip away, and wanted to adopt Oscar the next day. Red flags went up and my gut said no. Within an hour, I spoke to another gentleman who said all the right things over the phone. We connected and shared similar views on church and other topics.
Arthur is a Vietnam Vet who was raised in the hills of West Virginia and has always had dogs. He lost a German Shepherd a few years ago and owns an aging Siberian Husky. He thought Oscar and his dog might make good friends. A few days later, Arthur and his wife drove from Wooster to adopt Oscar. From the moment they met, it was meant to be. The two bonded and seemed to have an ancient love for each other.
Angie and I had Oscar for two weeks. We nursed him back to health and provided him with what I feel is a wonderful home.
Will I ever own a dog again? Who knows? Oscar made me think anew. The one thing he did was introduce us to Arthur and his wife. They vowed to stay in touch and update us on how he’s doing.
Because of Oscar, we made two new friends. Thanks for that and woof, woof back at you. He brought people together who might not have ever met otherwise.
The term “man’s best friend” is a common phrase and refers to domestic dogs and their history with humans. The loyalty and companionship remain the trademark of a good dog.
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The first recorded use of the phrase was by Frederick the Great of Prussia and became popular in a poem by Ogden Nash. Man’s relationship with dogs went to a higher level after the discovery of the rabies vaccine in 1869 made them less of a threat and more approachable. Prior to that time, the relationship between man and beast was not favorable.
In the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epic narratives of ancient India, Yudhishthira was the oldest son of King Pandu. According to the folklore, when Yudhishthira died and reached the top of Heaven, Indra the gatekeeper asked him to leave his dog behind.
Yudhishthira refused and said the dog’s unflinching loyalty was worth more than Heaven. After a long story and in the end, he found himself in hell. He cursed all women with not being able to keep a secret.
That all sounds goofy and I don’t believe it — except maybe the part about women not keeping a secret. But I do know there is nothing worth missing Heaven over — not even the love of a good dog.
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
I’m glad we have dogs to keep us company, and I’m glad we met Oscar. I am thankful we have some new friends from Wooster. That is a gift Oscar gave to me and Angie.
But in the end, I’m glad I will not allow anything to keep me out of Heaven.
Now, if I can only find a home for that dang cat!
If there is something in your life that might risk your entrance into Heaven, is it worth it? Let me know your thoughts.