by Ginn Navarre
A recent poll published in Time magazine revealed that 69 percent of Americans believe in angels and 46 percent of that gorup belive they have a personal angel. There is no scientific evidence of angels, of course. Ultimately, angels are most often a matter of faith. I for one because it pleases me to do so, give all the credit to my four-footed friends, for with out there interventions---I would not be here today to tell these true stories to you. They are my Guardian Angels
1936-Doggie & I
Angel # 1
It was seventy-seven years ago that my Cajun father placed a snuggling warm puppy in my basket where I lay the day I was born. It was the only gift he had to give his baby girl. My parents worked on a ranch in Arizona and we lived in a two room adobe shack next to an irrigation canal. The shack had no floor---just dirt. My mother sprinkled water over it several times a day to try and keep down the dust. The canal was used for cooling off at the end of the day and my father said it was nature's best bath tub.
That dog grew along with me from that first day. He became my "best friend" and seemed to know that he was supposed to stay next to me at all times. My father tried to give him several more proper names but he was just "Doggie" to me and after awhile they too relented. Doggie patiently listened to me as I learned to talk and he seemed to understand all of my baby words. He watched me make designs in the dirt floor with a stick and he even made some with his big paw---which delighted me to no end. We were soon writing and drawing great abstractpictures that only we could see the real meaning of. Outside we had a great game with a different twist. Using that same stick we would see how many red-ants we could smash and sometimes Doggie would join in with those big-paws. The trick to that game is not getting stung and he had solved that by just eating them when they did.
I was warned not to venture away from the shack and never go near the irriagation canal. The canal was not always full of water, yet enough water remained that a small child could drown.
I had just turned four years old and it was a typically hot day in that area. I wanted to make mud pies in the cool soft mud that I knew was along the canal bank. Doggie lay next to me and watched my culinary skills. When I offered him one of my creations, he gently took a small bite (not really wanting to offend me) as he quickly swallowed it. After all we were use to the smell and taste of that adobe dirt from the dirt floor and this was no different.
After carefully laying out my first selection of mud pies in the sun to bake, Doggie and I headed back to the canal to make another batch. We hurried so we wouldn't get caught were we were not supposed to be. This time, I reached too far down the side of the muddy bank and the wet grass that grew tall along the edge made a quick ride straight down into the water. I came up coughing and crying. This was definitely not like the swims and bathing that my dad and I enjoyed at the end of the day. I could not touch my toes on the bottom and each time I went down I swallowed more of the muddy water and only surfaced coughing and choking again.
It was then that I felt that familiar touch of Doggie. He was there and he was pushing me up against the bank as I held on to him. The one that had always been there for me from day-one. Each time I tried to climb up the slick edge of the bank, I would fall back in. Doggie would once again nudge me up so I would not go under. Soon he started barking loudly. He sensed that this job was a bigger one than he alone could handle.
My father was the first to hear the bark and knew from the sound, that it was not just the friendly---play bark. Dad was more attuned to the nuances of animals sounds and behaviors than most people, for he was well known for training and breaking horse's in the area. No! this was definitely an alarm bark that acquired immediate attention!
A big strong hand plucked me up out of that water and held me tight against his big familiar chest. Then, the same hand reached down again and pulled Doggie up by his collar. The bank was too slippery for even the dog to get a foot hold.
That was the scene my mother found moments later, a wet muddy child and dog as dad tried to console me and wiping the tears and mud away. Doggie had joined in and was tiring to lick some of my salty tears away.
My father reminded me many times in the years to come---how the best friend you will ever have in you life is a dog or any pet that will always be there to greet you with constant love and loyalty.
I have kept that promise.
Angel # 2
It was 1972 and I had moved to Maryland and found an apartment in "not the best of neighborhoods." Yet, it was a roof over our heads and was the best that I could afford, at that time. More importantly---it was one of the few that would allow pets and as far as I was concerned---if my pet was not welcome, then I did not want to be there either.
Her name was Calamity and she was a Basset Hound. Now we all know that, sad eyed, dead-pan face can be comical without doing anything. Laughter and smiles were brought to any one's face with the mere sight of those blood shot eyes and long droopy ears. Each time she was fed I would have to pin up her ears in order for her to keep them out of the food bowl. Many times she would trip over them when she would try and run---which she preferred not to make a habit of for it was much easier to just lay-back and take it easy.
Calamity had two pet-peeves. First: She did not like someone to point their finger at her. Of course, that happened quite frequently. People would point and say "Oh, look at that cute Basset Hound." Obviously she did not see it that way, so she would start with a low bark that would gradually go into a baying sound that could be heard for two city blocks. Second: When she was little she had spotted a gopher popping his head up out of a hole Of course by the time she got to the hole and started barking and digging he was long gone. In our California yards, gophers were prevalent but for Calamity this memory was firmly embedded in her mind. If you pointed at the ground and said "gopher" she would start baying and digging. She was a regular earth mover with those big paws. An otherwise quiet dog, but that magic word "gopher" would set her off. Now for those of you who have never heard a hound bark or bay---it can be startling.
One particular night, I awoke to the sound of someone trying to break into the apartment. I looked through the peep hole in the door and could see two men trying to force the lock with a crowbar. Not wanting to take a chance on what they might do if they got the door opened, I looked down and saw Calamity sniffing at the bottom of the door. She wasn't making a sound. I knelt down beside her---pointed my finger at her and the door and said that magic word---"gopher."
She immediately started digging at the bottom edge of the door and that big booming bark soon turned into a very loud bay that I am sure woke up the whole apartment complex. The last thing I saw through that peep hole in the door, was two men running down the steps to get far away from that huge ferocious animal that must be just on the other side of the door---waiting to attack.
Yes, guardian angels can come in all sizes and forms.
Angel # 3
As I sit here writing some of these events that happened to me in my seventy-seven years. I look down, and sound asleep a big black velvety head lays across my now numb foot. I can only smile.
It is Molly, my black Labrador and a couple feet away is her buddy Katie. Katie is one of those many animals that are tossed away or left in a box along some back road everyday. She is a mixed breed and was turned into a animal shelter because of the fact that she was not a purebred. Yes, I know we can't save all the dogs in the world, but at least these two have the love that they deserve.
You know---people and books often tell you that should teach dogs by using one-word commands. I am here to tell you that they are much more intelligent than we give them credit for. I have always talked to all of my dogs in full sentences along with simple gestures and tone of voice that they seem to be able to sort out on their own. Out of all the dogs that I have owned in my life time, the Labrador ranks very high on my list. They are very intelligent.
Molly was very skilled in the art of observation. The first time she saw me picking apples and peaches from the trees in the back yard, she sat there for awhile and those big brown eyes followed my every move. When she had waited long enough (in her mind), she simply went over and stood up on her hind legs and picked herself an apple. After that day, all I had to say was "Molly go pick me an apple." and it was done. of course there might be a small bite out of it---but it was brought back an placed by my foot and that great pride of achievement shown brightly in those big brown eyes.
No indeed! We have no problem communicating, I have learned that a certain bark at the back door means "I want to come in now." If I am busy and not paying attention to the time (I'll call it a senior moment) she will come and sit very close in front of me. There is a certain soft low noise that she will make to tell me to look at her. It's something like people do when they clear their throat to get you attention. I respond by saying, "show me," and I am taken to the item, such as her food bowl or the door.
It was last winter when the snow was falling softly that I crawled into my nice warm bed. Molly curled up on her cushion next to my bed on the floor. She was unusually restless and sneezed several times. I attributed it to cold or the dust. After all, I reasoned we all have allergies.
The next thing I remember, Molly was up on my bed---pawing and licking my face. This is something she had never done before. I was so sleepy but she persisted. Finally she started barking. I reluctantly crawled out of that warm bed and grumpily muttered, "show me."
She ran to the door leading down into the basement and when I opened it, there was a wall of heavy black smoke and soot that swooped by me. I immediately turned off the switch to the furnace and called the fire department. The chimney had clogged and all the carbon monoxide fumes were penetrating the house.
Again, a guardian angel with four feet had saved my life. I can only imagine Heaven and wonder if there are no animals when I arrive---I will simply have to leave!