Jackie and Todd were especially good to us over the holiday season. Jackie was the paramedic who Nathaniel worked with when he was training to be an EMT. Todd is the genius who fixes our computers. They have morphed into more than just business associates – they have become friends.
We spent time with them on Thanksgiving while Nathaniel went to a friend’s house. At Christmas, while he was in the nursing home, and we hadn’t even thought about Christmas dinner, they had us over for a lovely meal.
Jackie raises Great Pyrenees. Definitely not one of those infamous puppy mills. They live on a small farm, and their dogs live in a large fenced area with goats and chickens and shelter in bad weather with the goats in the pole barn. When they came by the day our son died, they brought this one with them.
His name is Beren, and for quite some time now, he has been traveling the dog show circuit with his handler.
He is a good dog. How good is he? So good that he will compete in the upcoming Wesminster Kennel Club dog show.
In the meantime, he is home for a visit, slumming with the other dogs in Jackie’s kennel and living with the goats she has to help remind them that their main job on earth is not to parade around a ring in front of a judge but to guard animals.
I have heard stories about dogs--and sometimes cats as well--having almost a “6th sense” when it comes to awareness of emotional suffering in the people they are with.
I was sitting on the floor trying to get an eye-level picture of this beautiful dog. Todd was on the couch next to me and took the camera and took the picture.
Then Beren looked at me sitting there, and within a few seconds of this picture, had walked over to me, laid his massive forehead on my shoulder, and just stood there.
I did what any normal human would do. I buried my nose against his neck (he smelled very much like dog and goat), and wrapped my arms around him and stroked his fur. I just sort of leaned into him and felt this amazing release of tension and a sense of peace. And he just stood there and stood there while the conversation around us ebbed and flowed, and Todd picked up my old guitar and began making it do amazing things, and finally Beren raised his head and backed up and wandered into the kitchen to see if there was anything edible on the counter.
We have noticed in the last few days that the cat is acting odd too. She wanders around the house meowing loudly. We called her Squeaker to begin with because she has such tiny, whimpy meow. She has always allowed us to scratch her head, but she does not like to be petted and is the sort of cat that when you reach to pet her, she slinks down to avoid being touched. Suddenly, she has become very demanding about getting her head scratched and allowing us to pet her too. I think she knows.