God so loved the world that she gave us dogs.
The first dog in my life was Teddy. He was a big brown and white collie mix that lived in the barn. He only came into the house occasionally to warm up, when it was really cold outside. My dad had trained him to be a faithful working dog. When it was time for the cows to come back to the barn for evening milking, my dad would yell as loud as he could, “Come, boss,” hoping that the cows would hear him and come home to the barn. Teddy would take that as his cue to run to the pasture or down the lane to the woods to get them. He would find them, gather them together by running around them and barking, and would herd them to the barn.
I was a little afraid of Teddy. I liked to pet him and say, “Nice, Teddy,” but I never dared to give him a really big hug or play with him. He was a very big dog, and I was a very little girl. He died of old age when I was about 5.
Our next dog was Tippy, a mostly black collie mix puppy with white tips on his paws and tail. My dad had hopes of training him to be another cow dog, but my brother Danny and I had other ideas. We trained him to be a playmate. Although he still had to sleep in the barn, Tippy was at our side whenever Danny and I were outside. Unfortunately, after a couple years he was killed by a car speeding down our country road.
The next dog in our lives was Rinny, named after RinTinTin, the german shepherd on TV. Rinny didn’t look like RinTinTin – Rinny was another black and white collie mix. My dad still had hopes of training another cow dog, but Danny and I adopted him as our next playmate, and Rinny never paid much attention to my dad.
While Rinny was still in our lives, a stray german shepherd mix wandered onto the farm and decided to stay a while. I named him Bullet, after my other TV dog hero. Bullet became my dog and Rinny was Danny’s. While we were negotiating that deal, our mom told us about when she sold her dog Mollie for $2 to her brother Helmer. From a practical standpoint, Mollie was still the family dog, and Mom was $2 richer.
After a couple years, Rinny suffered the same fate as Tippy. Left alone, Bullet must have been bored when Danny and I were away at school all day, and he wandered off to find another home that needed his love.
Our succession of dogs continued with our own Mollie, a brown collie mix, and Tammy, our first little dog, probably a beagle-terrier mix. By that time my dad was resigned to the fact that any dogs coming into our household would become playmates, not working dogs. That meant it was no longer necessary to get a dog with herding instincts.
As an adult, I lived without a dog in my life until I reached my early 40s. Mim had not grown up with dogs, so she didn’t know how much love they could bring into your life. I finally convinced her I needed a dog when she got a job working nights for the Night Ministry – I didn’t want to be home alone at night in Chicago without a dog. We made a visit to the Anti-Cruelty Society in downtown Chicago, and walked out with a 10-week old blonde collie-golden retriever mix puppy. I named her Megabyte. (I was a computer consultant at the time.) Megabyte was the perfect dog to turn Mim into a dog lover. I knew she was converted when she told me about the homeless man who told her one night that DOG was GOD, just spelled backwards.
Meg was a very affectionate and social dog. She loved to go for walks in the park and loved to play with all the dogs in the neighborhood. We even arranged play dates with Charlee, the puppy down the block who was about the same age. When Mim and I decided to move to Cambridge, we were concerned that Meg might be lonely without all her canine friends, so we made another trip to the Anti-Cruelty Society to adopt a sister for her. We were drawn to a 3-month-old black border collie-spaniel mix. Mim named her Maia. From day one, Maia tried to be the boss, but the two dogs quickly worked out their own rules for sharing the leadership role.
Both Meg and Maia lived well into their teens (their 90s in dog years).
Then came Abbey. You already know a lot about Abbey and all the love she has shared with us and the people who have lived with us. She’s been the perfect caregiver, with plenty of love, gentleness, kindness, and wisdom to share with everyone who has lived in our home.
Yesterday, Abbey went to meet all the rest of the dogs in our family – Teddy, Tippy, Rinny, Bullet, Mollie, Tammy, Megabyte, and Maia – plus many of her cousin dogs and people friends. For the last couple years Abbey has had a slow-growing mass in her brain that has been affecting her ability to walk. It finally got too much for her, and God invited her to come home to heaven. She had fulfilled her purpose on earth very well – teaching all of us more about God’s love than we ever could have imagined without knowing her.
God loved us so much that she gave us Abbey for 8 years
to teach us more about God’s love.