I stumbled on your site through Alanna Kellog's and have been reading for the last half hour.Then I came to Harley. I am still weeping.
I lost my gal Belle several years ago. I only had her for about a year. She wandered into our barn to die.
I wouldn't let her.
She was a beautiful, elderly black lab (around 14 or 15 the vet said) and unless the weather was too hot for her in the minivan and then a pickup, she went everywhere with me. I still have her stepstool needed to help her get into the pickup behind my seat.
I fell in love with that beautiful face the first time I saw her in the barn. I asked everyone I knew, posted ads in the papers, placed ads on the local radio stations....no one came to claim her.
I got the message, Lord. You wanted me to keep her for her, unknown to me, last year of life and show her what the beauty of unconditional love from a human is. To experience the total love for her that NO ONE had shown her in her previous years.
I found out later that she had belonged to a neighbor just one farm away, and he had gotten her from one of his foster children that found her abandoned at a farm where she knew the people had left.
Through proper care and good nutrition, her coat changed from the dull, rough brown and black patchy coat to the glossy, jet black that well-loved labs have. She was a beauty to behold.
No one had ever shown her how to play, a tennis ball or any type of ball was unknown to her. Belle did kind of know how to crouch and stalk side to side, on her forearms, butt in air, if you crouched and played in the same fashion, but her childhood held no play. Her childhood held only her will to live with people that didn't care for her and eventually left her to forage on her own without human companionship, unfailing love, a gentle pat on her lovely black head or body, or just the gentle words of 'Good morning sweetheart'. Or to comfort her while she shivered and shook the bed during a thunderstorm. She had none of this. Until the Lord directed her to go to my barn, wait for me to come and find her and love her for the last year of her life.
The Lord knew how severely I was grieving for my English Springer Spaniel, Murphy, who had died in May that year. He told Belle to go there and help that lady love another dog as they should be loved, and to help her mourn for Murphy.
She did, abundantly.
When she came to me, she was infested with ticks, and I patiently pulled them off of her to drop in a jar filled with alcohol. Why I didn't think to have her tested for Lyme's Disease, I will never know, even though when I had her at the Vet's, someone else was asking about the Lyme's vaccination. The Lord whispered, and I was unable to connect it to Belle.
My Beautiful Belle passed away from Lyme's Disease.
She is buried under our aging, ancient Haralson apple tree, facing the sun to warm her bones.
I asked the Good Lord to take her and to have Belle, Murphy, Kirby, Jaro, Tessa, Mitsy, Bitsy, Molly, and Duke (my first canine furbaby), all my canine and feline children, waiting for me when I go to greet the Lord.....if I can live my life in accordance with the Good Lord's teachings to be able to see my beloved dogs and cats in His House.
I will be their keeper and gladly watch and love over other people's furbabies until they arrive in the Lord's House to claim them for themselves.
I still remember that she would never soil the grass, she would go out into the brush and trees to do her thing. She would ask to go out for her twice daily 'squats' in the trees, but when I was sick, she didn't leave my side. I told her "Belle, Sweetheart, you have to go, Momma's not feeling well and don't know when Dad will get home to let you out." With that, she would go into the trees, turn around a couple of times, trampled the brush, and come right back to sit in front of me. She did this three times at my urging, and the last time she came back, sat in front of me and looked at me as if to say "Mom, you're sick, let's go back inside so you can lay down again. I will be all right until Dad comes home."
And she was.
We went back in to lay down in the warmth of the house, each of us to our own bed. Belle at the foot of my bed watching the door so no harm would come to me, and me to mine where I could still see her.
We would walk the fields twice a day. It was her job to get me out of my sorrow for Murphy and experience the joy and beauty of God's world again by simply accompanying me to skirt the trees and walk our fields in the last four seasons of her life.
Thank you for painting the picture of Harley with your words, and to have the photos to share.
I never took a picture of my Beloved Belle Starr, I was too content to have her next to me in bed, and by my side on the leash and in the front seat of my pickup. She was an elderly, queenly lady, and I miss her terribly....still.Cait
Posted by: Cait J November 02, 2008 at 01:41 PM