Even before he came to our home, Sabrina and I made up our minds: We weren’t going to love him too much, since so often, loving ends in tears. And we felt he might not be here for long.
We were right.
His name was Harley, an eighteen-month-old red Doberman. This is his back-story: He was purchased some time ago by a family in a northern state. As a purebred, he was pricey; $1900. He was trained to defend, and lived in what had been characterized as a loving home.
Then he contracted a ‘bladder infection.’ His veterinary care – to say it in the kindest possible way – was unfortunate. He began to lose weight. The treatments didn’t help [which is so often the case when the diagnosis is wrong.] The family ‘ran out of money’ for him, and put him up for adoption on a social media page.
Enter angel number one. The ad was noticed by a loving spirit in North Carolina named Robbyn Dockweiler.
This Angel of Deliverance – cleverly camouflaged as a twenty-something young lady who loves Dobies – drove thirteen hours one way to rescue him. Upon arrival, she found him thirty pounds under-weight, lying on their kitchen floor, drenched in his own urine. Some human behavior is truly head-shaking.
She climbed into her car and -without rest – began the long trip back to North Carolina. On the way, Robbyn stopped and bought Harley a stuffed toy, as her grandfather had done for her when she suffered childhood illnesses.
About the time she entered the Roanoke area, she knew Harley would never live to see his new home, so she diverted to Emergency Veterinarian Services [EVS], and signed over ownership to them. A truly selfless deed, but then, angels are like that.
Then, Harley’s second angel appeared: Dr. Maureen Noftsinger, employed by EVS. She found him to be in profound kidney failure due to a bladder cancer that blocked his urine outflow. She performed surgery and resected the tumor. He was at the center 3 days, and Maureen paid the entire fee herself, out of her own pocket! [Angels are like that.]
Then a call to us. Will we take ownership of a dog when it may prove to be only hospice care, depending on the pathology report? Many of Heaven’s messages are too subtle for me.
This one was not; this was an easy catch. How soon can we pick him up?
After a day or two of sizing us up, Harley eagerly joined his new Dobie pack, came to détente with the cats, and decided not all humans are callous. He played joyously, ate prodigiously, defended ably, and just generally made himself at home.
As to his tail wagging, Sabrina and I were fearful that his hip joints might wear out on the spot. His few days with us were joyous. Yes, there were a few ‘accidents,’ but what’s a puddle of urine between friends? But then he began to have trouble voiding.
The sonogram revealed that the tumor, in but ten days, had re-grown to fifty per cent its original size. Our boy’s prognosis was now a certainty; and on the 6th day of September – a dark, rainy morning – it became a reality.
Pray as we might, it is not within the human capacity to change the past, nor fashion moments yet unborn. We are stewards of the now, and so it will always be. Harley knew constant affection, open-handed love and whole-hearted security while with us; our mortal dominion extends no further than that.
What can be taken from this moment of time? Sabrina and I were blessed to know that in the broad theater that is Heaven, at least two angels move among us.
Then, there’s this thought about Harley: The Bible cautions us from turning a stranger from our door, for it may be an angel in disguise. But nowhere in scripture is it written that the stranger need be in human form.
For Harley, there will be no more cancer, kitchen floors, or urine soiling; he’s on to his next experience. For my Sabrina and me, it’s a good thing, really, that we decided not to love him too much, for then, we would miss him too much. And so often, don’t you see, loving ends in tears …