Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Well, by now, if you have ever even spoken to me in passing, you've probably gotten the link to the video of our television appearance on Channel Six in Tulsa a couple of weeks ago and our appearance on Fox 23 last week. Both were great experiences and a lot of fun. I've been on television before, both here and in Dallas, but this time was different. This time, I was on with Jack Black McNac. Jack is one of the most personable dogs I have ever had the privilege of sharing my home with. He is gentle with new people, affectionate without being demanding and a bit of a clown. That said, he carries a sense of dignity and quiet strength worthy of both his breeds, Labrador Retriever and Weimeraner. Knowing him like I do, Jack even impressed me by going to a television studio, greeting each person he encountered who showed interest and walking through cameras, bright lights and strange smells without a single mishap. So what, you might say? What's the big deal about that?
Well, you would have to know some of Jack's story to understand why he is truly a special dog. Jack belonged to one of our hospice patients, a Vietnam veteran with a gruff exterior, but a tender heart. When we first admitted Lloyd to hospice, we discovered that he had ten dogs running around his trailer and he was overwhelmed. One of his relatives had brought four adults to his home and had left them there. Soon, there were six puppies to go along with them. When we first met Lloyd, the pups were ten months old and he could barely afford to feed them, but he cared about them all, nonetheless. We helped him find homes for three of the four adults right away and planned to vaccinate the pups, but we were too late. When we went out to vaccinate them, we found all six of them had come down with distemper. They were terribly sick and it was too late to save them. Five of the six died. Only Jack and the lone adult were left.
I knew then that Jack was special. He had pneumonia, all right, but he still wagged his tail when I petted him and talked to him. Even then, he had a quiet strength about him that spoke straight to my heart. Later, when he had fully recovered, the patient grew more and more fond of him, often sitting outside in a wheelchair, just to spend time with both dogs. They didn't ask questions and they didn't care what he looked like or whether he wanted to talk or not. One of the best memories I have of a visit with Lloyd was sitting outside with the dogs, saying a few words from time to time, but mostly just sitting. If I've learned anything about being a chaplain, it's that being with people is the most important thing. Maybe that's why pets are so good at ministering to our spirits. They are always there, content with just our company and they never say the wrong thing.
I know Lloyd would be very proud of Jack. I am, too. He is a gift to me and to all who come in contact with him.