An Unlikely Angel.

“Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!” My father yelled at me.   ”Can’t you do anything right?” 
     Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle. 
     ”I saw the car, Dad. Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.”

     My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt. 
     Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him? 
     Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington  and  Oregon  He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. 
     The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his powers. 
     The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man. 
    Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. 
     At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived… But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone. 
     My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. 
     Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue.. 
     Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s
troubled mind. 
     But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it. 
     The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain. 
     Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, “I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.” 
     I listened as she read.. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog. 
     I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog  in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.. 
     Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention.. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. 
     I pointed to the dog “Can you tell me about him?”
     The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. “He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we’ve heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow..” He gestured helplessly. 
     As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. “You mean you’re going to kill him?” 
     ”Ma’am,” he said gently, “that’s our policy. We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.” 
     I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. “I’ll take him,” I said.. 
     I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. “Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!” I said excitedly. 
     Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. “If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it” Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house. 
     Anger rose inside me It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. “You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!” 
     Dad ignored me. “Did you hear me, Dad?” I screamed. 
     At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. 
     We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw. 
     Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal. 
     It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne.  Together he and Cheyenne  explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and  Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet. 
     Dad and  Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad’s bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne  made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel  Cheyenne’s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night. 
     Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed.. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad’s peace of mind. 
     The morning of Dad’s funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” 
     ”I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,” he said. 
     For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article…. 
     Cheyenne ‘s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter. .. ..his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father. . and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all. 

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22 Responses to “An Unlikely Angel.”

  1. Wendi says:

    It had me in tears it was such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

  2. JOAN HURST says:


  3. What a beautiful story, I do believe in angels.

  4. Evelyn says:

    This is a beautiful story.

  5. Melody says:

    My new favorite story!!

  6. Deepak says:

    Thank you for this wonderful story . I can relate to this story , for we too had a pet who gave us lots of love for ten years . She died four years ago .

  7. daisy says:

    Very emotional! Tears welled up in my eyes. They say dog is a man’s best friend. Well, this story reminded me of the one in the bible about Balaam’s donkey. God used the donkey to speak to him. You just don’t know how God is going to reach out to you. I loved this story. Makes me see and realize what a wonderful God I serve. He surely does work in mysterious ways!

  8. alma morris says:

    love this site very inspirational

  9. sundeep singh says:

    indeed very touching story .moral of the story is you get what you give

  10. yvonne says:

    I cried over this beautiful story. It gives new meaning to the expression
    that dog is man’s best friend. I have too have rescued 4 dogs from
    homelessness and they are my angels and best friends. Somehow I hope that God will allow us to see our precious animal friends in heaven
    with us. They are truly earth angels.

  11. Val Mydock says:

    God always answers our prayers if the request is made with a sincere heartand a complete trust that God knows what is best. I am alone and my two dogs love me unconditionally just as God loved us and died for our sins.

  12. Geri says:

    I loved this story. My heart responded. thank you

  13. opal says:

    Just what i needed tonight it is a very moving story .ican understand how dad felt im so glad he got help before he passed away , thank GOD for our precious critters i also have a little dog that means the world to me.

  14. Rosy J. DSouza says:

    God sure works in ways we cannot fathom!

    Lovely, touching story indeed.

  15. bipin says:

    its a good story…

  16. Joanne says:

    Well the universe is intelligent and alive and our prayers are thoughts and so are worries. Sometimes we are touched by the gentleness of an
    animal or a person or a flower. I know the angel is my life is my beautiful daughter melissa.

  17. Butch says:

    What an awesome story, I was really down today but this story really touched my heart and lifted me. It reminds me as I am sure it reminds other that God and his assistants are always around, all we have to do is look.

  18. Judy says:

    This is truely an inspirational message. It brought tears to my eyes and helped me to think about my situation in taking care of an older gentleman.
    I believe this was my message from God to help me understand and be more patient. I too believe there are angels among us, I see it more and more everyday….thank you for sharing…..

  19. NEHA says:

    Totally TOCHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m in my tears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Bett Gold says:

    What a long story, but I couldn’t help myself but to finish reading it. It seems to be very interesting as I am scrolling at the paragraphs.
    It’s normal for an aging person to have a variety of mood swings: irritable, frustrated, feeling neglected, depressed, anxious, etc. We just have to assure them that no matter what happens, our presence and understanding are always available. We can be angels too to other people – to make them laugh, to cheer up and to inspire. You see, God uses His creations to uplift up and lessen someone’s agony and sadness. He oftentimes uses people to do this, but just like what happened in the story, He used the animal ( a dog in particular). If that can be possible, how much more a human like us – we can also do the same.

  21. lakshmi says:

    For many old age is a curse.Having accomplished many things in younger days we dont prepare ourselves to face the challenge of old age that is lonliness,sense of being ignored.
    Any thing that comes to fill the gap of lonliness is appreciate. none other than a faith ful dog does wonders to an aged person

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