"All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing."
-- St. Francis of Assisi, 1225
The faraway look in her eyes spoke of loneliness and a hunger for love. My wife and I previewed all of the pictures on the Web site. We kept coming back to her. Her forlorn look tugged at our heartstrings. She was the one.
We filled out the application, went through the screening process, and on Sept. 5, we made the trip to Woodstock, Ga., to bring her home.
Joyce Flowers, the director of Peach State Sheltie Rescue, told us the pitiful creature's story.
The little Shetland sheepdog was rescued in July from a puppy mill. They also rescued one of her puppies, who is still too sickly to adopt and is being tenderly cared for in a foster home.
Mrs. Flowers explained that truckers play a vital role in transporting rescued dogs at no charge. That was how she got our dog to Woodstock. God bless these truckers.
Our new pet was a female breeder. She had been nothing more than a money-making machine, bred again and again, as soon as her puppies were weaned. A money machine isn't named, but a creature loved and cared for merits naming. We call her "Lady."
This little dog had spent all five of her years in a cage. Dirty water, minimum rations and nasty conditions from excrement accumulations were her lot in life. After a breeder's days of reproducing are over, she is shot.
Lady's left hind paw has been gnawed off by another dog that was caged with her. This causes her to limp. Her nails curled around and had grown into her paws. The vet that works with the rescue operation gently trimmed her nails so that she could walk without pain. Her coat was brittle like straw.
My wife tenderly held the trembling dog as I drove home. Lady bucked like a wild stallion trying to burst through the windshield while I drove through the traffic on Interstate 285 around Atlanta. Panic controlled her. She settled down and went to sleep in my wife's arms after we cleared Atlanta.
Trauma had taken its toll on Lady. Two weeks passed before she could bark. On that magical day, she also sort of wagged her tail, which had been tucked under her from years of maltreatment.
Lady now receives hand-outs from the table and does the "Sheltie-circle" from excitement and wags her tail. She is acting more and more like a dog should. She entertains us with her "wow" reaction of eating new and exciting scraps from our meals. She has even taken up residence in our bed, in my spot of all places, and gives me a dirty look when I come to bed as if to say, "This is my new momma and my spot. Go sleep on the couch!"
Lady is returning our love many times over.
How can anyone be so cruel and unfeeling toward such a kind, gentle creature given by the grace of God for companionship and blessings?
It is sinful. Author and poet Will Judy wrote, "He who kicks a dog kicks his own soul towards hell."
In St. John's apocalyptic visions, he hears the worship of all creatures towards their Creator: "Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13, New International Version).
Lady can now join all the creatures in singing praises to the redeeming Lamb, for she is bathed in love flowing from the love of Christ in us for the abused and forgotten.
May God bless all of those who care for the weak, abused and neglected, whether they be human or animal.
The Rev. Dan White is the pastor of North Columbia Church in Appling.