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  • Writer's pictureDianne Hammontree





I love animals, but I have a special place in my heart for dogs. My dogs were a big part of my family life whether at home growing up, or when living on my own. Dogs have their own unique, loving ways to let us know that in times of crisis, in times of celebration, and in times of daily life we are not alone. A wag of a tail, a lick, and a hug are some of the not too subtle ways dogs express their love. Each day my dogs tell me, “I adore you!”


The dog’s brain whirs with the assault of heightened olfactory, visual, and auditory impressions. The dog thinks, “This is a dog I’ve never met before,” or “That woman carries treats in her pocket and gives me one if my human stops to talk with her,” or “This is where I last peed.” or “A siren is coming, or “Usually we cross over there.”  The more you take your dog on walks, take him to nursing homes, and visit children, you will see that we two species, human and animal, have much in common yet complement each other by experiencing life in vastly different ways.


Last fall, Grace and I went to a local nursing home to randomly visit patients.  A social worker asked me if Grace would visit a lovely lady, Ruby, who has been non-responsive for four days. The social worker said the nurses think she only has a few days to live. We silently walked over to Ruby’s bed, and with the nurse’s permission, lifted my pup up onto the bed.


Ruby didn’t make a sound. I reached under the covers and placed Ruby’s hand on Grace’s soft fur and then… Ruby’s eyes popped wide open and with the biggest smile she shouted, “Hey! Hey!” Then she went back to being non-responsive.


The nurse and the volunteer just looked at me and wondered if we really saw what we saw. So, I moved Ruby’s hand to Grace’s chest and… you guessed it, eyes open and “Hey! Hey!” The thing is, Ruby wasn’t seeing three women and a dog. We believed she was seeing something beautiful, heavenly, happy.  The joy and light in her eyes encapsulated the most awesome spiritual encounter we had ever witnessed.


Grace and we three women stayed with Ruby for another twenty minutes and delighted in watching Ruby and Grace connect over, and over again. I lifted Grace off the bed and put Ruby’s hand back under the covers. Then we left for home. I giggled. Grace barked and talked.


At home, Grace and I just snuggled quietly and thanked God for this day.


Early the next morning Ruby’s social worker called and said Ruby peacefully died about 1:00 this morning. 


I tell you this story to remind you to open your heart so you can recognize and receive blessings–especially if they arrive accompanied by a bark.




Dianne Hammontree, secretary of Homeward Bound, Inc


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