What A Stray Dog Can Teach You About True Love

Let me tell you a small story about love. There is no romance, no candles, no kissing, no dating tips etc…

There are also some not so delightful graphic images below so just beware.

The story starts about 2 years ago when the most magnificent purebred German Shepherd stumbled and struggled it’s way to our house and collapsed outside our backyard gate. We live on the outskirts of the hills where coyotes roam and where law breaking citizens sometimes go to dump their couches and old TV’s. This time…it appeared as if someone had dumped their dog. The dog must have seen our kids and my wife and in desperation laid herself at their mercy by the gate.

dog with cancer

We don’t know what this strong dog went through but she had all the skin and fur bitten from her ears and you could tell she was completely untrained. It was scared of everything and everyone. Kristyn, my wife, gave her food, water, and a bath. We put signs everywhere in our neighborhood in case someone had lost the dog but only got a call from someone else in the neighborhood who said that a male pure bread German Shepherd had appeared at their house around the same time Daisy landed at our house. (Daisy is the name we gave her) It appeared as if both dogs were dumped in the hills at the same time and got separated.

After no one claimed her…Kristyn took her in the car to the animal shelter. The animal shelter looked her over and said that it looks like she had been used for breeding many times over. They also said that she had a huge infection in her gums and suspected it came from trying to chew through a chain link fence. From everything we observed and heard from the Veterinarian, this dog probably lived it’s entire life outside, confined to a chain link kennel, and was bred for pure bread puppies at every opportunity. She was most likely beaten by men, isolated, and lonely for her entire life. She was subsequently dropped in the middle of the hills to either starve to death or be hunted by a pack of coyotes. When she was past her productive breeding years, and no longer able to generate a profit, she was discarded like the other garbage people dump in the hills.

I’m not some PETA activist or anything…but the thought of how cruel people can be to other living creatures makes me sick. Turning life into property is one of the great crimes against our existence. It’s the same principle behind the massive genocidal abortion epidemic and it is the reason for a majority of the senseless wars that have plagued this earth. People use life to get gain. It could be money, power, popularity, or the pleasures of the flesh…but it is always worldly gain for them…and devastating loss for the victims.

Ok…sorry for that rant. I’ll get back to the love story.

The shelters told Kristyn that if she left the dog there, that she would be put down within 3 days because she was already 8-10 years old. We didn’t want another dog. Especially one as untrained as Daisy, but Kristyn didn’t have the heart to leave her there. So guess what? We got a new dog.

I wasn’t super happy about this, but I understood why she did it. For the next two years, this dog pooped and pee’d in the strangest places. She was the most untrained dog I’d ever seen and she was impossible to communicate with. My mom, who thinks she’s the dog whisperer, came over and noticed that her tail wouldn’t wag and surmised that the dog had been through the ringer. It took probably 6 months before that tail would begin to wag and even after that…she was always super cautious.

One thing we all knew for sure was that this dog had a hard life. She wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything without Kristyn there. The fence had been left open multiple times on accident and while our other dog was out roaming the neighborhood, she would stay put. Once she was safe at our house…she never wanted to step outside the yard…unless Kristyn was with her.

So a couple weeks ago, we noticed a huge lump on her stomach. It must have grown to a significant size within a couple weeks and been buried beneath all of her fur. Kristyn took her to the Vet and they gave her some pain meds to help but we knew something was seriously wrong. The Vet, even though he offered some major surgery alternatives, suggested that we make her comfortable and let her enjoy the rest of her time on earth because of how old she was. He said that this was most likely all throughout her body and that because of her age, she’d probably endure complications and quite a bit of pain in trying to preserve her.

lump on stomach dog

So home she went…and I don’t think she’d ever eaten as well as she did that next week.

A couple days ago, this lump became the size of a football and was just hanging off her belly. It had started to bleed and crack open up. This happened practically overnight and we knew it was time to take her in even though she didn’t appear to be in any pain. So I came home from work and watched the kids while Kristyn took her in.

I don’t know whether it was because of the pain medication, but Daisy seemed to be in such great spirits that day. When Kristyn put the leash on her and took her out to get in the car, she was wagging and excited. Kristyn said she was sticking her head out the window and just loving the wind on her face. Once they made it to the Vet, she went in the office and Daisy clung on to Kristyn. She was her protector and the only person on earth that she trusted. To Daisy, Kristyn was her savior. Daisy was a stranger and Kristyn took her in. Gave her food, shelter, and some semblance of peace in an obviously hellish life.

I don’t know everything that goes on in an animals head but the reason I wrote this was because I was intrigued by what was happening inside of Kristyn’s head. When Kristyn walked in the front door after putting Daisy down, she was inconsolable. I have never in the 13 years I’ve known her, seen her cry the way she did. I was kind of surprised to be honest. I have seen her be sad in other situations throughout life but never had I seen her like this. It made me curious to understand what triggered such emotion.

Why in this case was Kristyn so upset by this stray dog? I stared to think about love, and how interesting love really is. I started to think about all the people who say that they can never find “true love” and the thought came to me: You cannot find true love. It is up to you to create true love. True love is what you experience when you get to know, serve, and empathize with that living thing.

No one else felt that connection with Daisy in our house. Myself and my kids liked Daisy…but it was obvious that we did not love Daisy the way Kristyn did. I realized it was because we had not served her as Kristyn had, or empathized with her as Kristyn had.

Kristyn talked about that last visit to the Vet. She said she could tell that Daisy was looking to her for protection while they were in that office. She had been protecting her since the day she laid at our backyard gate. Now…in that office she was starring into Kristyn’s face not knowing what was going on but trusting that Kristyn would help her. They gave Daisy a sedative and she laid her head on the ground…still looking at Kristyn. 30 seconds later…with a few jolts, it was over. The subsequent emotions out of Kristyn were the result of an effort filled cultivated true love for another creature.

I think somethings that is why humans love animals so much. It’s because they are so loyal, so dependent, and so reliant on you to help them through this life. You serve them and take care of them so much…and the more you do so…the more you love them for it.

There is still an interesting fact in this story that I haven’t yet mentioned. Kristyn is allergic to dogs and cats. The more fur…like Daisy…the more severe the reaction.

I likened all of this to our life and interactions here on earth with other humans. Maybe some people we feel “allergic to.” But even with all of our biases and “allergic reactions” to their existence, if we just took the time to get to know them, serve them, and empathize with them…we too might find true love laying just outside our gate.

So if you ever wish you had more love in your life…go and find someone to take care of.

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