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DOG TALES and Emily’s Angels

by Joyce Johnson


A friend heard that I was hungry for clean reading, and hung a bag of Guidepost magazines on my door. :-D It had been many decades since I read those humble faith stories. Late that night, I picked up the first one and I couldn’t put it down. It fed and calmed my heart, tweaked my faith and helped me get to sleep. I wished that I had a good faith story to submit to Guidepost.


Ron was doing business in Bozeman and I was glad to have two days all to myself to rest after finishing a challenging art job and I just wanted to stretch out on the sofa and get into a good book. But first I needed to carry our 15 yr old Shih Zhu, Emily, outside to do her business.


Oh No! blood on the rug! I tried to see what was going on but she is the proverbial greased pig and really resisted. I found a wound under her chin but might as well have been on the ceiling. No way could I do anything beside a quick swipe with peroxide on a cotton ball. I became flooded with anxiety. Animals in pain unhinge me.


Ron and I had lost two older dogs, and a 30 yr. old African Gray Parrot to illnesses within weeks last year and we have not yet recovered. I hesitated to call Ron, not wanting to upset him while he would be unable to do anything from there, but I did. He said, “Sorry you have to deal with this dear, but just put a sheet down and the blood will probably coagulate and we’ll take care of it when I get home.” I did that, but everything inside me said call the vet. So I did. It was Friday, the only day the vet would be available other than for emergencies, for four or five more days. After I got the okay to take her in, I carried her out to the Subaru.


In the car, a thought occurred, with tears and dread, that I should just mercifully send her “home” at the vet’s office. She’s 15, blind, deaf and can only get around slowly, and I found I was in that awful place where you must decide if she is painless enough to be happy and live out her days? And then juggle that with “can we handle the stress and the vet bills?” I drove on and found the only other option was a prayer that the Vet be guided to advise and make all decisions because I was only capable of driving a straight line up Hwy 89, and my decision making state was seriously kaput.


UH OH – Some miles from home here in Emigrant, I glanced down at the gas gauge. It was empty! My already vulnerable heart froze! No filling station for miles! I started crying anew and gripped the steering wheel to stay focused. Twenty plus miles more on empty was impossible! “I can not handle this. I cannot run out of gas halfway to town in the middle of cow country with a moaning, bleeding dog. I will fall apart.” I kept on spilling tears but said, “Please just get Your angels to push the car to town please.” (it doesn’t hurt to ask.) I gripped the wheel tightly, driving slow to use less gas while waiting for it to stall, and constantly checked the rear view ready to pump my brake lights in warning.


I felt shame that I was falling apart over a small thing when far greater tragedies were happening everywhere in the world. But if I run out of gas will someone pull over and help a hysterical lady and a sick dog? (Take deep breath, hold 6, exhale 6, repeat 6 times: “I am at peace”) The empty gas icon lit up after the needle slid over the line in slow motion just to terrify me more.


It was not possible! – But pale, numb and jaw hanging open, I actually did pull into the Town Pump in Livingston. I got out and stood in front of the pump and stared at it. I must have looked deranged because the customer at the next pump looked at me with pity. The computerized menu stared back at me like I was an idiot and told me I needed to put the credit card in the slot. I did, but I pulled the card out too soon I guess, because it said see cashier. I thought, “no way! can I face and engage in conversation with anyone right now, without hysterics.” So the pump changed its mind and said insert card. (I had been given a second chance!) I got 16 gals, or was it $16 worth? I forget.


Where’s my credit card? There was only two possible places on me: my two coat pockets, but it was not. I checked for holes in the lining, and then around the ground and under the car, and then reopened the gas chamber because demented, I may have stuck it in there, like one might absentmindedly put their wallet in the fridge. I looked three times through my purse, item by item. It DE-materialized, I swear! Sniff! Sob! My sanity was thinning. It was a small matter really—just cancel it if it doesn’t turn up—but I prayed that it would just reappear magically in my purse. Why not? I drove to the Veterinary clinic.


I was crazed when I walked in the door with Emily in my arms. The Vet did a little double take. But he has seen owners come in the door looking like me a thousand times. He just took charge kindly and patiently. Emily had to be given two sedating injections in order to work with her, she was seriously resistant to being handled. In the exam room while waiting for her to get dopey, tears rolling, I petted and told her I loved her and how deeply sorry I was for all the many disorders she has had to bear in her life; and to please forgive my sometimes impatience. I really am amazed at her strong will to live. I prayed for her total healing (Why ask for less?). The Vet finally was able to shave the area and we were amazed to see a hole under her chin with much inflamed redness and swelling. An abscess, he said. He worked, cleaned, probed, squeezed out stuff, applied medicine and packed the sizable cavity, all the time explaining kindly what he was doing, why, and giving me instructions for how I must squirt the salve into it twice a day for two weeks.


Everything was under control. I felt surprisingly peaceful. Except I said, “Doc, you know she will not let us touch her without tranquilizers, and, I will not do anything that will hurt her.” He got eye contact and said very firmly three times in the next few minutes of lecture: “We do what we have to do.” I believed him. I even felt strong-hearted again. I paid the bill, picked up Emily, we hugged the Vet, laughed and I drove home.


As I look back on that day, it was no coincidence that only 24 hours had passed after wishing for a faith story, that I actually lived one. But here is the punch line which may disqualify me. I researched and read that Subaru Outbacks boast a record 2.5 gallon reserve of gas, or 65 to 85 miles extended mileage, on “empty!!” An eye-popping jaw-dropper, yes? I mean 65 plus miles! That’s almost funny. And I know you’re thinking that divine intervention was just a token “wink” in my story, but who cares. I believed I was going to run out of gas. I didn’t just pull over, put the hazard lights on and bawl. I kept going. And the end result is I am restored, amused, and grateful. (2.5 gallons! for cryn’out loud.) The credit card re-materialized in my purse, by the way. Emily healed very fast with minimum handling, and is doing fine in fact she’s better than ever. My faith is mysteriously strengthened, and I am looking forward to the next batch of Guideposts to materialize on my door nob. Love faith stories.


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