70: Lady

70: Lady

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven

Lady

Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.

~Colette

My husband came home from work that day, frantic and totally in love with a stray dog he befriended while working outside on a bulldozer. The black Lab and Springer Spaniel mix came out of nowhere, licking his ear and nuzzling his hand. He gave her water, tied her to a nearby tree in the shade, and promised she would come home with him later that day.

Unfortunately, an office worker noticed the stray dog earlier that day and had called the animal control offices to send someone to retrieve it. When my husband came out at the end of his shift, he was brokenhearted to find the dog was gone. Someone told him the animal control van was there not an hour before, and the stray dog had been taken to the pound.

That evening my husband repeated the sad story to me. It was easy to see that this stray had completely won his heart and he was totally devastated. I’d never seen my husband so enamored of an animal and we’d had plenty in our years of marriage.

He looked to me with tears in his eyes. “This dog is very special. We have to find her!”

“Then find her, we will,” I agreed.

Five minutes later, we were in our truck and headed to the first of several locations where the animal control officers could have taken the black Lab. The third stop proved to be the right one; we’d found her. Before they led us back to the compound where she was being held, we were advised the dog would be held for seventy-two hours to give the legal owners a chance to retrieve her.

“We understand there is a waiting period,” my husband said. “We want to be her new family, and we’ll do whatever is necessary.”

We followed the animal control officer to the rear of the compound where dozens of dogs were barking and snarling, along with dozens of cats mewing and pacing back and forth in cages.

Around another corner and the officer paused, looking to my husband. “Is this the dog you found earlier today?”

“Yes, yes!” He looked over to the black Lab and smiled. “I came back for you, girl.”

The officer opened the gated door and gestured for us to enter. The Lab was curled up on the floor; her head drooped, big brown eyes hopeful but shy. I knelt down and lifted her chin, patting her head at the same time.

“Hello there, sweet girl.”

My husband beamed. “Isn’t she beautiful? I told you she was special.”

“She is; I can see it in her eyes.”

Those impossibly big brown eyes were so transparent; it was almost like she was conveying to us a promise that she would look much better once she’d had a decent bath, and that she was apologizing for her condition. It was also clear that someone had abused her, perhaps even beaten her and then thrown her away like trash. My husband and I were both touched deeply.

The next day I went shopping for a dog bed, collar, cans of wet food and bags of dry dog food, a half dozen treats and at least that many toys.

“So, what shall we name her?” my husband questioned when he arrived home from work.

“Lady. She’s the perfect little lady.” I hadn’t even thought this out, but the name had come to my mind quickly and easily.

My husband agreed. “That she is!”

The next few days felt like weeks, the time dragging until the day came we finally brought Lady home. She walked throughout the house, sniffing as she went, eventually settling onto her plush round bed situated in our family room. We both sat in our recliners and just stared at Lady as she slept peacefully. Our two cats sauntered through the room, trying their best to look casual as they stopped and stared at the dark creature softly snoring in the corner. They approached her cautiously, sniffed a bit at Lady’s feet, and carried on with their business as if this were not a momentous occasion. Everyone knew it was, however, sensing that our lives would never be the same and Lady had everything to do with it.

We lived in a rural area off a dead-end street and down a graveled road. Our property was just under two acres, and Lady seemed to know just where her boundaries were and what was off limits. She made friends with the neighbor dogs, and was especially kind to Ace, the big German shepherd next door who was fast losing his eyesight. Lady would walk with him, nudging him right or left along the gravel road if a car would approach, and she led him home in the evenings at about the dinner hour. Friends came to know and love Lady, recognizing her gentle, loving spirit and ever smiling face. One friend joked repeatedly about having her cloned; he loved her too!

One afternoon my husband and I were picking weeds in the front yard when a neighbor’s chicken strayed into our space. Directly before us, Lady instantly froze, her body held in a beautifully poised point, her brown eyes locked on the bird.

My husband grinned at me and called out to Lady. “Go get it, girl.”

Two seconds later, we had a dead chicken on our hands. That night my husband fried up that chicken, along with mashed potatoes and corn, serving a plate of everything to Lady. “This is for you, Lady. Tomorrow, we’re going to take you pheasant and quail hunting.”

And that became Lady’s glory; she was magic out among the sagebrush. Pure beauty, pure instinct, and doing what she loved best. I went on every hunt with my husband, just to watch Lady dance with grace among nature’s own.

The years went by and we loved Lady every day, month, and moment. She always had a bright smile and a spring in her step until the day came we learned she had cancer. We were devastated at the diagnosis and horrified at the prospect of losing our precious Lady, but that final day came and changed our lives forever.

We each had a chance to say goodbye to Lady, and friends, family members and neighbors all had private moments in which they shared with her. Then, exactly one week after Lady passed away, I was talking with a good friend on the phone. The friend was outside in her hammock, chattering away with me, when suddenly she stopped.

“That’s strange,” my friend said.

“What? What’s strange?”

“A ladybug just landed on me.”

“Nothing strange about that.”

“Yes there is. This ladybug is gold in color.”

Our conversation continued and later that same afternoon my son called, just to chat.

“So, how was your day?”

“Great,” my son answered. “I went out on the lake today with a buddy and we water-skied. It was great, but guess what happened?”

“What happened?”

“A ladybug landed on me, a golden ladybug. I didn’t even know there were golden ladybugs.”

“I didn’t know that, either.”

That evening after my husband arrived home from work, he was eager to tell me what happened that day.

“I was outside working on a bulldozer.” He grinned. “And this golden ladybug landed on me!”

I grinned back at my husband. “You and everybody else, it would seem.”

I told him of the earlier calls where golden ladybugs had shown themselves.

“Wow, isn’t that weird but kind of wonderful, all at the same time?”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Our favorite nickname for Lady was Ladybug and I don’t think this is just a coincidence.”

We talked all evening of the special times we shared with our precious Lady. The next morning I was taking one of our cats into the veterinarian for his yearly immunizations. The doctor came in the waiting room and smiled warmly.

“I’m so glad to see you,” the vet said to me. “Something happened to me yesterday and I wanted you to know.”

I smiled. “Let me take a guess. A ladybug landed on you — a golden ladybug.”

The vet grinned widely. “Yes indeed! Lady came to me for a visit. This is her way of letting everyone know that she’s okay and she’s sending love to all.”

“They really do get a message through to us,” I said. “Don’t they?”

“Indeed they do,” the vet answered. “I’ve seen this happen many times.”

The tears that fell were happy tears. We love you, dear sweet Lady!

~Louetta Jensen

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