I received a Facebook message on October 16, 2019 from the animal control officer in our little town of Ledyard.
“Hi Peter. I just want to put a bug in your. There is a Samoyed at Norwich Animal Control. They got custody of her today. Her owner died. She came in with a cat; seems like a sweet girl.”
I called our animal control officer, “Can you pull her from Norwich?”
“Yes, I can do that easily. I don’t know what kind of shape she’s in; she’s 13. Her owner died suddenly. Her name was Rose.”
“Are you kidding? I know Rose. I competed against her in dog shows for a couple of years, and I used to work with her. We’d talk about our dogs at lunch. You have to get her.”
“Are you sure you…”
“Without question, Cathy and I will take her in. Rose will rest in peace knowing we have her dog. We have to do this. I can be there in 30 minutes.”
Charity arrived at our home in poor condition. Fleas and mites sucked the vitality out of her shaven coat and left her skin a scarred mess of mange. Her stiff gait showed evidence of arthritis and she was too thin. And she had an oozing lemon-sized mass on a mammary gland.
What happened to Rose? Why couldn’t she take care of herself and her dog? Why did she die? How did she die? Was she all alone? No family?
I had more questions than I had answers. However, I didn’t feel the series of events and this circumstance were insignificant coincidences. Not one bit! Forces, greater than us, placed Cathy and me in a position to Be Kind, Be Thankful, and Be Significant – my self-proclaimed life purpose.
Shepherd (v): to watch over, guide, or lead.
Charity became our dog and so we took care of her. We bathed her, groomed her, nourished her with supplements and good food, put weight on her, and had veterinarians remove her tumor and give her a chiropractic adjustment. She slept comfortably and was accepted into our existing pack of three other sled dogs. She had a good life with us – for 99 days.
The Universe works in mysterious and unsettling ways. Today, in the midst of my extreme sorrow, I was given an answer.
Charity was never our dog. Cathy and I were merely shepherds for her. We were chosen to bring Charity back to relatively vibrant health so she could cross the Rainbow Bridge and be reunited with her owner, her mother, Rose.
Rose needed Charity. And Charity needed Rose. They literally and figuratively go hand-in-hand. Rose, in a different existence, is free from pain and suffering; she is healthy and robust and misses her Charity. And Charity was no longer a broken shell of a dog; she was healthy enough to ascend to another world. But her physical body had to die to make the journey and join her mother.
And we shepherded that transition without understanding.
I am 100% confident that you have answers to your challenges and hardships but also struggle with understanding. I see you every day. You are my family, you are my friends, you are my coworkers, you are strangers I encounter.
We are all shepherds. Every one of us is able to give charitably to our kids, to our families, and to the various communities we are part of. I’m urging you to join a community, be active, and become a force for change.
Despite knowing an eventual outcome, despite your prior experiences of pain and suffering, please continue to be yourself. Don’t try to protect yourself or walk away from a just cause to avoid heartache. Because someone or something needs you to shepherd them.
Your simple act of Charity will deliver someone a Rose and allow them to rest comfortably.
Oh, by the way, we took in the cat too! His name is Bubbles :)
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.