October 30, 2008
Pets at the Heart of the Home
Has an animal influenced your faith? Contributors to The Francis Files share their stories.
by Sharon Ann Dunford
We brought Dodger into our home in January 2001. Our dear cat Athena had passed away unexpectedly, and we needed the kind of comfort only a kitten can give: the way they love you unconditionally and purr so extravagantly for no reason at all. Athena's sudden passing left us adrift in the world. She died in my husband Trevor's arms, and left us unafraid and surrounded by love: the best way for anyone to go, man or animal.
When we went to the Lakefield Animal Welfare Shelter, one kitten stood out above all the rest: he was small, black with a white locket, bright yellow eyes and a mouth that didn't stop! He left us no way to ignore him, and when I lifted him out of his cage, he snuggled into my arms, purring wildly and talking! When my devastated husband took him into his arms, this tiny fluff redoubled his efforts, started to drool and then began giving kisses—the exact way Athena did.
Dodger came home with us that very day and was never far from either of us for the rest of his too-short life. He somehow became the heart of our home, even though he was by no means the only cat, nor even the eldest. There was just something about him that made all of the other cats fall in love with him too, and he became the most benign ruler in the history of catdom!
He passed away suddenly, only six years later, of congestive heart failure. His loss is still felt and always will be, even by the other cats. How can one tiny, rescued animal make such a difference in your life? There is no explanation: one can only be glad he did.
Loving Dodger brought God into our lives again, since we were certain He had abandoned us when Athena died. His warmth and love for us showed us that no matter how briefly the gift of love comes into our life, we should thank God every day for the days that it does. It truly is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
By loving and ministering to this lost and unwanted creature of God's, we found ourselves healed of a terrible wound. Athena's death, and knowing Dodger as we did, we never doubted his soul would rise skyward, along with the souls of all of the other cats we have loved and lost. They will be there, waiting in Heaven for us, ready to remind us of both the Earthly and Heavenly love that is always there for us all. As with Athena, and every other cat I have ever loved, to look into Dodger's eyes was to see the face of God.
The following is a poem I wrote about Dodger, to help us all with our grief.
Will O' The Wisp
I heard your name - a whisper on the wind
It made me wonder - where are you?
Your current presence a wraith
Of what had been.
You hide in corners, glimpsed by the side of my eye
As shadow to shadow, you dart on the fly
Invisible, to the reality seen by my eyes.
Can you see me, with the magic in yours?
But if it could be, if these eyes really did see-
That joy of seeing you again,
Would be so immense,
That feeling of holding you,
Could be so intense,
I might faint of it.
How do I say good-bye, forever?
How do I live, never holding you again?
How do I breathe, knowing your voice is silent always?
I can only pray that you are somewhere happy-
Not missing me-
As I do you.
Do you have a story to share? Submit your story and we may share it with our readers. The opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Humane Society of the United States.