If you are like me you will never have a better friend than a dog. All 7 of my dogs were loyal and loving. Of course, my first one was the apple of my eye even though her name was Peaches.
Michael, my friend, is amazing with his finds in second hand stores.
He knew that the watch I bought at Walmarts wasn't the greatest,
so one day he gave me a beautiful Timex he found at Goodwill. It
is fantastic. I only needed two batteries for it since he gave
it to me 5 or more years ago.
Then the week of St. Nicholas - a great patron of Byzantine
Christians everywhere who put great faith in his do-gooding
practices saw me receiving a lovely unexpected gift from him
The gift was from his helper, Michael. I found a wonderful
book about animals on the little cat house on my porch- which
somehow the cats of winter either have not found or it is not to
their liking. Hope it means they have found other places of
I subscribe to Guideposts and didn't even know that such a book-
"Their Mysterious Ways" existed. The stories of different people
with their experiences with all sorts of animals is right up my alley,
and Michael knew this book would be a joy for me to read. He was
It was hard picking out just one story to share, but I believe I
found that very special one. Titled "Private Smith's Joey," by
Lynn Seely, it tells of her visiting a very lonely man in a nursing
home and hearing his amazing story of survival during WWII.
Mr. Robert Smith had no family or friends to visit him. Now he was
often times depressed and withdrawn. Lynn hoped somehow he would
be glad with her visit. She entered his room and drew a chair near
to his bed. He did not even acknowledge her presence.
How would she reach him? What topic would draw him out of his
depression? She started with a simple question - did he like dogs?
No reaction. Then she asked him if he ever owned a dog? Yes,
these were the magic words. The old man's eyes lit up and soon
he began sharing with her his very special story about Joey.
It began d uring the winter of WWII in 1944 where this young 19 year-
old soldier found himself separated from his platoon after winessing
his best friend being killed after stepping on a land mine. What a
horrible sight to see one's friend die in front of his own eyes this
way. But he realized he could do nothing for him now, and he had
to continue on his way.
But it soon became obvious that he had been separated from his platoon.
He then made his way to where he believed they would be. Instead,
he found himself in enemy- held territory - alone, cold, and hungry.
Looking for shelter of any kind, he found an abandoned house which
had been bombed. Walking through it, the floor gave way, and he
landed in what must have been the basement. The fall injured his
leg, and he felt that it might well be broken.
Still- he considered himself lucky to have found some shelter from
the biting cold winds of winter. However, it soon became apparent
that even this shelter did not provide him with the warmth he needed.
He shivered in the cold. What a predicament to be in he thought- cold,
hungry, with a a possibly broken leg, and then surrounded by the enemy.
What would kill him first? The enemy, starvation, or the cold? He knew
full well that his circumstances were grim.
He admits now that he just thought that it was probably better to just
quit- to let the cold numb his mind and body and to let nature take its
course. But, he still turned to God and said a little prayer asking
him for help.
Not long afterward he heard a noise. The sound came closer and he
pulled out his gun ready to fire it if need be. But he had to be
careful. It might not be the enemy at all. He called out -who is it?
Thinking the sound was coming from a dog, he snapped his fingers twice,
and suddenly there he was beside him - a big black furry dog.
What a relief. This large dirty black dog who was friendly and non-
threatening would prove to be his salvation in the days to come. W hat
a God-send really and probably an answer to his prayers.
Now this big furry dog would provide him with the warmth h e so desparately
needed. That night soon the two new friends would fall asleep together.
Both found solace in the company of the other.
Morning came and the dog was gone. Where was he? Soon, he saw him
come in with an egg in his mouth which he carefully dropped near him.
A raw egg is usually not very appealing to most of us, but when you are
starving, it does the job and lessons the hunger pangs while providing
needed n ourishment.
The dog who he named Joey made numerous trips -probably to a nearby
farm which had chickens. How he managed to pilfer the eggs without
being caught shows his amazing dexterity and intelligence in time of
need. Those eggs kept him and Joey himself nourished while keeping
hunger at bey.
Finally, one day US soldiers did find him and he was rescued. Of course,
now he could not imagine life without Joey who had saved his life. So
he was very happy to be able to bring him home with him when the time
came to move out of the war zone. Joey would live with him for 10 more
Smith now even pulled out a tattered picture of his best friend, Joey-
the sight of which made him smile. The telling of his story about Joey
had seemingly made him a different man. Lynn was happy that she was the
catalyst for him remembering his best pal and she left him still clutching
that precious dog-eared picture. She promised to come back again.
Lynn came back a week later as promised to visit Mr. Smith. She sadly
learned that during he week he had died peacefully in his sleep. They had
found clutched in his hand the tattered picture of his best friend Joey
who once again helped his friend in need. Just the remembrance of him
brought a beautiful peace back into his life. I think he also happily
realized that it was time for him and Joey to be reunited once again.
I think all of us who have known the love of a special dog, cat, or other
companion animal in our lives will take comfort from reading Ecclesiastes
3:15 --"What now is has already been, what is to be, already is, and God
restores what would otherwise be displaced."
The thought that God allows no part of His creation to drop out of existence
makes people like us who want to be re-united with our beloved animal
companions again a happy one indeed.
I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the past 30 years and I thank God every day that I am. I am most disturbed at how little the Catholic Church and Christian churches generally give to concern re animal suffering in their ministry. I wrote to 350 bishops in 2001 and only 10-13 responded. I feel that the very least they can do is to instruct that the priests give one sermon a year on compassion to animals. I am still waiting for that sermon. I also belong to Catholic Concern for Animals - founded in England in 1929. (They are on the internet) I recently sent a sample copy of their bi-monthly publication called the ARK to the 8 Catholic bishops of Ohio. Only ONE kindly responded. Somehow we have to reach the Christian teaching magisterium. There is next to nothing re animal concerns and compassion for them. They basically believe that animals are the lesser of God's creation and that gives us the right to do anything we want to them. Way wrong. We need to change their mindsets. The animals are God's first and He expects us to treat them compassionately.