What would we do without our pets? Truly I believe God has a purpose for all of our beloved pets. Their constant devotion to us is one of the most appreciated expressions of love known to man. God gave us pets to calm us, to cheer us, to warm us, and to comfort us. And they do it very well.
When we moved into State Center from the farm Brady was about 10 and was very sad to be leaving the farm behind. Somehow we thought it would be a good idea to get him a kitten to take care of, in place of the sheep. I remember the day John and Brady responded to a free kitten ad and drove to Gladbrook to choose a pet. They came home with an adorable gray and white ball of fluff that quickly captured our heart. Allie became a friend and colleague, growing into a beautiful cat who had no limits in our homes. He especially loved high places and entertained us well as he surveyed the landscape from the top of the kitchen cabinets or the beams that ran across the room.
Dogs are just as special as cats, though many folks are definitely one or the other. We have never had an indoor dog, other than our grand-dog, Lou. We dog-sit on occasion and have grown to love her as well. Even though our dogs have been outdoor dogs, we have become just as attached to them as if they were living in the house. But the strangest connection is the affection we have for our sheep guard dog, Bella. We have never petted her yet she laid claim to our hearts from the moment she bit both of John's hands as he tried to get her out of a kennel. Bella was bred to be a sheep guard dog and for her to remain that, she must not be humanized. She remains with the sheep and protects them from any danger, including humans. Bella has softened over the years; she knows where to come for a treat - the front door or the pocket of my chore coat. She watches us come and go and trusts us to care for her sheep properly. But the line is drawn at touching her. It is hard to understand how we can be so attached to her, without ever smoothing her coat.
The day is fast approaching when we will have to say goodbye to Bella. She will move on to another flock of sheep and be perfectly content, I'm sure. But she will be missed by us. I believe God knew pets would become man's companions.
"Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal...All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 NIV).
I'd like to think they will be very nearby.