85: Angel Without Wings

85: Angel Without Wings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog

Angel Without Wings

It is not known precisely where angels dwell—whether in the air, the void, or the planets. It has not been God’s pleasure that we should be informed of their abode.

~Voltaire

I walked down the hall of the nursing home, nodding to all the aides and nurses, as I made my way to visit ninety-three-year-old Ruth.

I stood outside her door and listened to the quiet before entering her room. She was in her wheelchair, her head drooped forward and her eyes closed. Gabe, her faithful chocolate Lab was at her feet.

“Ruth,” I said softly.

She lifted her head, smiled, and motioned for me to take a chair opposite her.

“I wouldn’t have come here if they didn’t take Gabe.” She told me many times how her family had searched to find a nursing home that would allow Gabe.

Ruth liked to talk about her childhood. She couldn’t recall what happened recently, but she could remember her childhood days vividly.

“How are you today?” I asked.

“I was thinking.”

“About what?”

“Why I’ve always loved dogs.”

Ruth had the reputation for rescuing dogs and taking in strays up until the time she moved to the nursing home.

“Why do you love dogs, Ruth?”

“I remember my sister was to pick me up at the library. I’d gone there to do my lessons.”

“How old were you?” I asked.

She shrugged her wee shoulders. “Maybe about nine.”

“Did she get you?”

She giggled softly. “You didn’t know my sister. Sally would take Dad’s car and take off with her friends and forget all about me.”

“That was eighty-some years ago and you still remember?”

She nodded. “Some things you can’t forget.”

“What happened?”

“I was standing on the library steps waiting for her; it was starting to get dark. I knew Sally wasn’t reliable, so I decided to walk home.”

“How far was it?”

“A few blocks. I was afraid because a little girl had been kidnapped and murdered in California. I remember thinking about that.” Her voice trembled.

“A good reason to be afraid.”

“I was walking along when all of a sudden this car came down the street and slowed up. It drove right along beside me. I tried to walk faster, but the car kept up with me.” She paused, swallowing hard. “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two men in the car, but tried not to look at them.” She paused to take a breath. “They started calling to me. They said things like ‘hey, little girl, you want some candy’ and ‘come here pretty little girl.’”

“What did you do?”

“I said a couple prayers.” Her voice grew weak. Tears appeared in her eyes. “All of a sudden this big dog, like Gabe, came running out of a house. It looked up at me, nudged me, wagged its tail, and walked along beside me.” She smiled. “That dog walked me all the way home.”

“What about the car?” I asked.

“It followed us for a bit, but then drove off.” She sniffled.

I reached over and clutched her small trembling hands.

“I remember following the dog to my porch. He knew where I lived. He sat down, looked up at me and wagged his tail.” She closed her eyes. “I can still hear his tail slapping on that old wood floor.” A tear slid down her cheek. “I hugged him and whispered ‘thank you,’ then went in the house.”

I must have had a look of doubt on my face.

“It’s true and that’s not the end.” She shook her finger at me.

“Okay,” I said, hearing the skepticism in my voice.

“The next day I went to that house to see the dog. I knocked on the door and a young woman answered. I asked if her dog was there. She said they didn’t have a dog.”

She looked deep into my eyes. “Then I got the strangest feeling.” She reached down to pat Gabe. “In my mind, I can still see that dog. But there wasn’t any.”

“Maybe the dog came from another house,” I said, still doubting the tale.

Her hands were folded as if she was praying. “I know it was that house. I prayed for help. God sent that dog. He was an angel dog, an angel without wings.”

I looked at her questioningly.

“Angels come in all forms.” She sniffled. “That dog saved me.” She wiped away a tear.

“Maybe so,” I said.

“And when I get to Heaven, I know the good Lord will have a dog waiting for me.”

I took her little hands in mine.

“Gabe is short for Gabriel, you know, the angel.” She glanced down at the dog.

Gabe’s head rested on her knees and his soft brown eyes were gazing lovingly at Ruth.

Ruth smiled. Her eyes closed, her head nodded, and drooped forward. Gabe curled up at her feet.

I hugged Ruth gently, then started to leave the room. I turned to look at her and saw Gabe observing me.

“Gabe,” I said softly.

If I didn’t know better, I would say Gabe smiled at me.

Back in the hall, I grinned to myself, and decided... maybe Ruth’s story was true.

~Carol Kehlmeier

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