As mentioned, God always must come first for He is the one who will guide us and give us comfort through His glorious Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father created us, the Son gives us the opportunity for salvation and the Spirit is that Third Person of God who enters us to guide us toward the Way, the Truth and the Life if we only open our hearts. But then there are other persons and various living things to take care of and love for the wonders that God has given us through His love.
One of my favorites that cheer me up and make me laugh even in times of woe are the dogs that my wife and I are blessed to have in our family. None are more special than the two fellows pictured above. Their names are Val and Sal and they are half brothers. We intended to only bring one into our lives, but little brother needed a home as well and we learned that this particular breed, the Great Pyrenees, does much better in pairs.
We were looking for a dog who would be a good shepherd for our small non-working farm. We have a few other dogs, barn cats, horses and chickens and over the years we noted an increase in predatory animals dropping but including possum, raccoons and coyotes. There are even a few Florida black bear and a Florida panther or two in the nearby swamps and we have lost a few animals along the way including a few barn cats, geese and chickens. The Great Pyrenees came highly recommended for just such a situation.
My wife brought them home, first Val then later Sal. Val, short for Valentino, was her surprise present to me on Valentine's Day. Sal, for Salvador, at the time still too young to be weaned, would follow a few months later. His name was selected since the breed has a Spanish origin in the Pyrenees mountains of Northern Spain. They are stocky, thick coated and of very good temperament, unless the need for protection is noted, such as the presence of a stranger or wild animal. They don't attack, just watch from a distance, sometimes showing the facial expressions of a wolf while growling and barking with a very deep, but not sharp, bark. We've even seen them at the fence across from a hungry coyote trying to get near the chicken coops and the intruder quickly thinks better of trying anything.
During the heat of the day they disappear; they have dug a den under our raised storage building and rest there until late afternoon when they come out. But when they do come out, they look for us for they know it is feeding time for the horses. Being very loving, they follow close behind, demanding some love and attention which is always gladly returned. We always feed them in the barn after the other animals and just love to watch them enjoy their meal with the munching and crunching of the horses in their stalls in the background. The two boys constantly look up as if to say thank you.
Later, they lift up our hearts, rough house with each other in a show better than TV and join us on the deck as we enjoy the late afternoon breeze on the deck at the end of a hot Florida day. Then they take up residence for the night, one on the front porch, the other at the kitchen door, always vigilant for any sight or sound of action near the gate or the fence lines. Like soldiers on guard duty, the make regular rounds, each on opposite sides of the fenced in area insuring that all the animals are safe for the night.
It's really clear that Valentino is my dog and Salvador is my wife's. And Salvador undoubtedly would never allow any harm to come to her. He is always watchful of whatever she does when outside.
Since my wife brought them home we have had nary an accident or loss of any animals due to intruders. And the joy and love they provide with their gentle manner with us makes us forget any troubles of the day. They are truly one of God's great gifts for us and are so very special.
So when you have a bad day, or the world is getting you down with all of the violence and hatred that sometimes fills the airwaves, take time out for special joy from all of the good things that God has available for us. And if you do happen to have a dog, let them help you put a smile on your face and lighten your heart. They truly are man's best friend and all they require is a little love, some food and water and the love and devotion they return is immense.
Thank you, Lord, for these wonderful dogs and help us to care for, love and enjoy their company for many years to come. And for today, I'm just going to "go to the dogs"; there is always time for politics tomorrow. Sadly, that snark never goes away.
God bless you all.