Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If you have ever loved a dog...

My Maisy's adoption photo, taken in 2002
On a clear autumn day earlier this month, I found myself with several hours between meetings, in a town an hour from home. As I drove around aimlessly in Hot Springs National Park, I spotted a stray dog. Being a volunteer and advocate involved in pet rescue for years, I sensed by her behavior that she had not been out long. She was wearing a collar, with no tag. She appeared to be well-fed, was wagging her tail & behaved as if she was on an adventure. There were none of the signs of a dog who has been alone long enough to understand that all people are not nice. I made a quick trip to a nearby Subway Sandwich shop.

“May I have one foot-long sandwich with all the meat it will hold?”

“And an empty soup bowl?”

“And a bottle of water?”

I drove around for 45 minutes looking for the dog, slowing along the way to shout out my window at strangers walking down the sidewalk,



Nobody had seen her. Frustrated, I decided to go to the bookstore, get a book then return to the area where I had last seen her in case she returned. I had 5 hours to kill & it was a nice day.

As I walked aimlessly through the bookstore, the cover of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ caught my eye. Although I’m often reticent to read books about dogs because they so often have sad endings, the events of my morning led me to flip the book over & read the dust jacket.

The best book I have ever read
A novel told from the dog’s perspective?

A dog who’s soul is reincarnated several times?

After reading the acknowledgements & seeing the care taken by Mr. Cameron in his effort to “think like a dog”, I practically ran to the checkout, clutching the book as if someone might try to wrestle it from my grasp.

Sitting on that park bench, hoping for the stray to return & reading ‘A Dog’s Purpose’, I laughed & I cried. I laughed until I cried…sopping up my tears & trying to keep my act together. I was, after all in public. On a couple of occasions I wanted to put the book down in my lap & applaud, but I restrained myself, lest I lose my place.

I was elated with the attention the author brought to the plight of stray dogs, the often financially-biased motivation of breeders, the impact that one kind compassionate human can have on a dog… & even better yet, the unconditional love & loyalty that those of us who love dogs are lucky enough to experience in return.

Were I to be an independently wealthy person, I would order ‘A Dogs Purpose’ by the truckload & stand on a busy street corner handing it to anyone willing to accept a book being thrust upon them by a wild-eyed stranger. Instead, I have recommended it to every person who has commissioned a pet portrait from me since I read it.

It has, without a doubt, changed the way I look at my rescue dog, my Maisy, who was found running down the side of the road in rural Arkansas almost a decade ago.

I have spent the last 9 years wondering what that sweet little scared dog was running from & now I know she wasn’t running from anything.

She was running to me.

Maisy in the snow, 2008


  1. Sherry,
    Your blog made me cry at work! :)


  2. That's better than on a park bench! ;)