What Makes a Dad?

Father’s Day is a day to honor our fathers, and all men who fulfill the role as father figure. Stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, and adult males deserve recognition from both their two-legged and four-legged ones who understand the positive influence they have been on everyone,human and canine. Dads can sound tough, but when the chips are down, they are real softies, as illustrated in this supposedly true story, “Every Boy Needs a Dog.”

“Dad, there’s a dog down the street who needs us.” My seven year old looked at me seriously. It had been a tough week at work, and I was looking forward to relaxing on this Dad’s Day, so my immediate response was, “Well, we don’t need a dog.”

“Dad, every boy needs a dog and that dog needs me….his human is mean. Yesterday I saw him hitting the dog with a stick, and told him she shouldn’t, and he said if I was so worried about the dumb dog, I should take him. I said, okay, this week end is Father’s Day, and my dad likes dogs, so we will take him.

“Scott, I do like dogs, but we don’t need….” I couldn’t finish, because my thoughts went back to a time when I was a boy not much older than Scott.. Oh, how I wanted a dog, and I soon discovered a neglected dog at the end of the block. The poor animal often had no food, so I began saving part of my school lunch for him.

One afternoon I realized that he had pulled loose from his chain and was following me home. I deliberately left the garage door open, and I hardly got into the kitchen, when my brother called, “Hey, come see. There is a dog in our garage. He looks hungry.” Dad responded quickly, “No way do we need a puppy.” Then he glanced at the open garage door. I took a deep breath and admitted I had left it open. Dad just shook his head, and said, “Well, the dog can stay in the garage tonight; we’ll take him to the shelter in the morning.”

I saved most of my supper, so he really had a good meal. We rigged up a box in the corner with an old blanket, and he curled up and went to sleep. Early the next morning I hurried into the garage…there was the puppy, still curled up in the box. I crawled in beside him, and the next thing I knew Dad was standing there, shaking his head. “This dog belongs to someone. We’ll feed it and then I am sure someone will claim him” No one claimed him, and to our amazement, Dad agreed, “if no one claims the dog by the end of the week, we will keep him, but you have to take the total responsibility to care for him.” When Sunday night came, our family celebrated. We had a dog, a wonderful dog.

Several months passed before I finally confessed to my Dad that I knew where the dog belonged, and what I had done. He just smiled. “I know. I saw him tied up every day when I went to work. I talked to the owner. He didn’t want the dog. Buddy is ours.” I was jolted back to the present, realizing that my son had crawled up onto my lap, something he hadn’t done in a long time. “Scott, let’s go talk to that man and get your dog.”

Dogs and dads are a lot alike: on their loyalty you can depend…..your friends and protectors to the very end. They’ll love and protect you their whole lives through, and their devotion and love they’ll shower on you.

No Charge for Love

Easter is one of the most celebrated days in the Western World, and it is the perfect time to reflect on the love and joy emphasized on this special day. You have probably heard this story, “No Charge for Love”, but is one of my favorites, and I recently received a request to repeat it, so here it is:

Oliver Townsend had rescued a neglected pregnant dog, and had cared for her, committing himself to being her forever caregiver. However, he realized that he could not keep all her pups, so he determined to find good homes for them. He painted a sign advertising “Pups for sale to forever homes” and placed it out on the edge of his yard, hoping that they would all be re-homed quickly. Several families expressed casual interest, but Oliver had grown attached to the little ones, and he didn’t feel that any of the families was really serious about adding a pup to their family, so days passed, and the pups were still there. Late one afternoon, he was outside trimming some bushes when he realized that he was being watched. He looked down into the eyes of a young boy.

“Sir,” the boy said, “I would like to buy one of your puppies. My mom says it’s okay, and I have a little money from my chores.” He reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a couple crumpled dollar bills and held them out. “Could I take a look at them?” Mr. Townsend shook his head, thinking that this would definitely not be the right match. “You know, son, the mother of these pups was in bad shape, and I have spent a lot of money nursing her back to health, and caring for her babies.”

The boy looked straight at him, “I would take really good care of the pup, and if I don’t have enough money, maybe I could mow your lawn or something. Couldn’t I just take a look at them?” The man put down his clippers, and let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly,” he called. From the front porch ran Dolly followed by three little balls of fur. As the dogs came closer, the boy’s eyes danced with delight.

Suddenly he noticed something else was stirring on the porch. Slowly, another, noticeably smaller, little ball appeared, and in a somewhat awkward way, began hobbling toward them, doing his best to catch up with his siblings. “I want that one,” the little boy said, “I will work for you until he is paid for.” The man knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. I love him dearly, but he will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

The boy repeated softly, “I want that one.” He reached down and pulled up one leg of his jeans, revealing a brace running down both sides of his leg, attaching itself to a specially made shoe. “You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.” Mr. Townsend carefully picked up the little pup, and gently handed him to the boy. “How much?” asked the youngster. With tears in his eyes, the man answered, “No charge. There’s no charge for love.”

May joy and love fill your hearts on this special day…and every day. Have a blessed Easter.