Friday, December 09, 2005

A Man and His Dog

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that his faithful dog had been dead for many years. He wondered where the road was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. As he reached the wall, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch, and the street that led to the gate made from pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"

"This is heaven, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water? We have traveled far," the man said.

"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought a moment, remembering all the years this dog remained loyal to him and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going. After another long walk he came to a plain dirt road, which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have any water? We have traveled far."

"Yes, sure, there's a faucet over there." The man pointed to a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate. "Come on in and help yourself."

"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to his dog.

"There should be a bowl by the faucet; he is welcome to share."

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned faucet with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree waiting for them.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is heaven," was the answer.

"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was heaven, too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No. We're just happy that they screen out the folks who'd leave their best friends behind in exchange for material things."

Author Unknown


My best friend preceded me to Heaven this morning. Her name is Cocoa, and she was God's most perfect creature. She tried to be human and for the most part succeeded, I'll write some stories about that later. The first thing that comes to mind is her efforts to speak as a human speaks. I have never heard a dog do that before. Of course she couldn't do it, but her efforts were unmistakable.

During one of my deployments my wife became seriously ill. Cocoa knew this and took care of her while I was gone. I am convinced that she save my wife's life. Every morning she would ensure that my wife would wake up during a time when that may well have not happened. She was aggressive and would not let up until my wife was awake.

Everyone who ever met her loved her immediately. Even the emergency animal hospital, on one night two weeks ago when we had to rush her there stopped in the middle of the night to take a group picture with her. They had never seen her before and normally an animal's presence would have been just business. Not with Cocoa.

She was truly extraordinary.

As I write this we are having a wake for her at home while we wait to take her to the crematory. Our other dog, Niko, needs to know why she is now gone. This is not as silly as it may seem. Canine societies are well structured and dogs know, and, to some extent, mourn, when one of their members passes on. This according to the most recent animal psychological research.

Her body is in her bed at my feet, and I am weeping. She was God's most perfect creature and she was my daughter.

It was a privilege to have her live in my house for 11 years, since she was 8 weeks old, and proof that God loves me.

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