Fred was more than a dog. He was a quiet consoling presence. He could read emotions like no one's business, and when I was at my end, he knew how to handle it, usually by slipping his hand into my hand.
When Fred was a year old or so, I started researching therapy dogs. Even then, I thought he would make a great one, but he had to big issues:
1. He loved jumping up on people.
2. He hated elevators
So Fred didn't become a therapy dog for anyone outside our home, but inside our home, he was amazing, especially when things changed so drastically in 2010 and 2011. I would sit on the couch just trying to breathe some days, and he would lie beside me, his head on my leg, breathing for us both. When I lay on my floor and cried, he sat outside my door and waited. I often thought everyone should have a Fred. The world would be a better place if everyone had someone like that. Someone who simply loved, who didn't care if you yelled, who wasn't afraid of tears, who walked into the hard to find you.
Periodically, I have considered Fred, therapy dogs, and the power of love with four paws, but I was not going to do that again. Until two weeks ago. When I finally listened closely and realized those thoughts were not my thoughts but God's voice.
I had been praying again for direction on "specializing" my ministry. "Pastor" can be so many things, and I was thinking about going back to school, possibly getting a second degree or maybe even a master's. Except, I kept finding myself perusing puppy pictures, and one day when I was kneeling at my altar, taking communion, I asked for a clear vision of what God wanted to do, and I saw myself with a dog beside me, and we walked into a hospital with injured soldiers and walked out and into a hospital with children, and we walked from that room into a room at the library where children were reading and from there into a funeral home where someone was grieving. Then we walked into someone's home where this dog lay on the couch and let the person pet it while the person talked about hard things, and I dismissed it all because I was not going to get another dog.
But then, I was sitting at the house I have been renovating to rent, and I texted my friend Morgan, who is a 3rd year veterinary student. I tossed her the idea of a therapy dog that I could take to different places, that could work with soldiers and marines, people grieving loss, folks trying to find courage to face hard things, people dealing with anxiety and panic issues...folks who have suffered trauma and need a safe place to heal. She asked if I wanted help finding a dog.
Within minutes, she was checking shelters near me, and we were comparing notes. About two weeks later, this happened.
Not because of the marines (although y'all know I love them), but because
Dios semper fidelis.
God is always faithful.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded. Sometimes we need the calm presence that reminds us of His peace and His presence. Sometimes Love shows up with four paws and reminds us of the Love that shows up in the darkest places.
Because a good dog can do more for some folks than all the pills in all the pharmacies in all the world. Because sometimes the best way to get a handle of life is to feel the body of a gentle dog touch your hand.
So, this is Semper Fidelis, and we have just started our adventure together, and you can read more about our adventure at Semper Tails. It is more than just the daily adventure. It will include information about trauma, loss, grief, PTS (previously known as PTSD), healing, important contact information, and so on. As she says on her page, she is "therapy puppy growing into the great bigness off my heart and all the goodness packed inside me." The page will grow with her.
I hope you will join us...or even more, point someone toward Semper's page who needs someone like her because, as she says, maybe in her tales, that someone can find themselves.
Shalom and Puppy Love,
Jerri and Semper Fidelis