Thanksgiving reminds us to “paws”, and reflect on the many, many simple things for which we are thankful. With our days packed with responsibilities, and our world filled with stress and tragedy, it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of our lives, and take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. Faith, family, friends, and furbabies. We are all rich, if we add up our blessings, we realize that we should have an attitude of thankfulness, not just once a year, but all year long. Matthew Henry said, “Thanks Giving is good, but Thanks Living is better.”

It was Thanksgiving time when Rev Melissa Billing became aware that her area animal shelter had just rescued a dozen puppy mill dogs, and she decided that it was time to put Thanks Living into action. She was shocked to see the condition of the dogs, and was especially drawn to a little one huddled in the back of one of the kennels.

Billing tells it this way: “She was quite a mess; with a lot of hair missing and sores all over her body. When the shelter attendant tried to coax her out of the corner, she urinated on herself, and curled up in a tight little ball, shivering violently. The gal just shook her head, and scribbled a note on the chart hanging on the dog’s cage. Apparently this one was considered unadoptable. Her future was certainly not good. Impulsively I blurted out, “I’ll take her.”

A vet check confirmed that she had numerous mammary tumors, the result of too many litters of babies, but she was so undernourished, it was decided to postpone the surgery for awhile. Then one day, she had a seizure…she had epilepsy. It was weeks before she would even come close to us, but slowly she seemed to realize that she had a home and someone who would care for her forever. We named her DeeDee and although she no longer had continual litters of babies, it was almost as if she decided that her stuffed, plush donkey toy was her baby, and she carried it around from place to place. She even refused to go for a walk unless we took the donkey. My husband and I laughed at what the neighbors must think about two adults carrying a stuffed donkey with them when they were out walking the dog.

The months seemed to just fly by. We had her mammary tumors removed, and the meds controlled the seizures, but her life of fear and neglect at the mill had taken a horrendous toll on her. She had lost most of her teeth, and her eyesight was minimal. She loved us, and we loved her, but her body was just worn out, and she left us the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We did all we could to save her, but it was not meant to be. She passed away quietly and peacefully. Her passing at Thanksgiving was very sad, but appropriate. For you see, she was a blessing…a blessing in our lives for which we will be forever thankful. She came to us, discarded, sick, and without hope. In that year, we all learned what love could do. She taught us about loyalty and gratitude and forgiveness. We miss her! “

Be thankful for faith, family, and furbabies…they are all precious and priceless. Have a blessed Thanksgiving as you count your many blessings, and look forward to a year of Thanks-Living!!