May 20, 2014

A Dog Biscuit, A Lost Dog, and A Funeral



As my husband Monte shut the door I gave him my typical message: Wait, I’ve forgotten something. Returning to the kitchen I went to a gallon jug on the counter, pulled out a large dog biscuit, and stuck it in my coat pocket. Then we drove to the funeral home to pay our respects to our friend Henry, who had just passed on.

When we arrived I greeted his wife, Margaret, giving her the ritual hug. However, this time I held on tighter and longer than usual, enabling me to whisper softly in her ear: I have something for Henry.

I wasn’t certain how she would take my “bizarre” token to him. “I know what it is,” she responded, smiling. “Place it among his military medals. Henry will love it.” I carefully placed tucked the dog biscuit among his medals. Visitors from that point on wondered about it, but few dared ask for an explanation. The next day, as I left the house to attend Henry’s funeral (Monte, the pastor in charge of the funeral, was already at the church), I saw my neighbor Mariah. She was visibly agitated as I paused to greet her.

“Did you know Pansy has been lost for three days?” she asked me before I could speak. “Have you seen her?”

Pansy was a black dog with  brown markings on his snout, gray markings on his legs, and white fur on his underside.

“No,” I said, knowing she needed an ear to listen to her story, and a set of feet to help hunt for the small dog. But I needed to be elsewhere to say goodbye to Henry and to comfort Margaret. I explained the situation to Mariah and told her I would talk to her later. Then I drove off to the funeral home, feeling like I abandoned a neighbor. While driving I realized hearing about Pansy en route to Henry’s funeral was fitting. If the situation were reversed, he too would have paused to listen. After all, he had a huge heart for dogs. Of all people, he would understand the circumstances that almost made me tardy to the service. V-P1010069

Henry’s heart for dogs was accompanied by a sense of humor, a trait that often both frustrated and amused Margaret. This sense of humor showed in a Sunday morning tradition he initiated with me.

Henry knew I carried dog biscuits to subdue overly aggressive dogs I met while walking around our community. To stabilize my supply he began bringing me a dog biscuit each week. The catch? I had to bark to get it!

Each week he met me in the church aisle, holding out a dog biscuit.

To the amusement and/or the disdain of Monte’s congregation members I complied with his request. Margaret always shook her head and admonished us. We ignored her. Monte, of course, being behind the scenes, rarely saw this greeting.

“Arf,arf.” A very dignified action for a pastor’s wife.

I tucked the earned dog biscuit in my purse, knowing a dog along my walking path would soon enjoy it. SQ-H-P1010548

After I returned home I found Mariah and walked along with her as she continued to hunt for Pansy.

“I’m responsible for Pansy’s ‘escape,’” Mariah said. “I walked him near my apartment, unleashed, in the evening dusk. When another dog spooked Pansy, she took off.” For two nights friends and family searched unsuccessfully for Pansy. The third night a “lost dog” newspaper ad was published, bringing three responses. Mariah discounted them, since each situation required her car-phobic dog to cross major roads in business areas. Furthermore, they all were described as having perky ears, not the floppy ones that Pansy displayed proudly. Then Debbie called. She and her husband gave it a plate of spaghetti to a dog hanging out near the train station and watched the dog eat it. Suspecting it was someone’s lost pet they checked the newspaper and saw Mariah’s ad. “Yes, the dog that fits Pansy’s description,” Mariah said. “Does it have floppy ears?”

“Yes.” Mariah drove off to the train station. Debbie pointed to some bushes where the dog was hiding and Mariah pointed the car’s headlights towards them. “I called and her head popped up like a prairie dog,” Mariah said. “She was in the weeds and smelled like spaghetti and meatballs.” Mariah took Pansy home, calmed her with a bath, and prepared the dog’s favorite foods: peanut butter toast, tuna fish and green beans. Pansy fell asleep after her meal. According to Mariah, Pansy’s safe return qualifies as a miracle. The dog isn’t used to traffic-laden streets and isn’t accustomed to being exposed to 16-degree temperatures. Mariah told Pansy “there’ve been angels all around. Everyone has been praying for you.” I’m certain Henry was one of those praying angels.

H-P1010551  SHARPENMargaret’s instructions to put the dog biscuit among Henry’s medals demonstrated how much she would miss Henry’s humor.

Both Pansy and Henry made it home, where they can enjoy their dog biscuits in safety and peace. Henry himself is probably looking down with a smile on his face, prepared to hand both Pansy and me a treat—but only if we bark. He would concede that a funeral visitation, a dog biscuit, a lost dog were woven together by a common thread.



The “Meow” Chorus: A cat symphony on a Greyhound Bus




  1. Arf ! Arf ! I hope you will have an opportunity to share this story with other Methodist pastors wives at one of their conference meetings !

    Comment by Grace (&Fred) — May 20, 2014 @ 7:12 am | Reply

  2. Great story… Thanks for sharing Pansy’s adventure.:)
    I can just see you with the dog biscuit. 🙂

    Comment by merry101 — May 20, 2014 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  3. only you

    Comment by Grace (&Fred) — May 21, 2014 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

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