Last updated on August 27, 2023
…ask the animals, and they will teach you
My mind flashed back to when I was young. I was awakened by a big white dog licking me in my face and jumping all over my bed. As I tried to open my eyes from what I thought was a dream, my mother said, “This is Gypsy. We are going to keep her.”
Gypsy was the friend I longed for but didn’t have. When I came home from school, she would greet me at the door with her tail wagging. I walked her, fed her, and played with her. After we returned from each walk, I would announce how many times she had used the bathroom, both number one and number two, as if to validate I was the best dog walker in the world. I even cleaned up after her when she threw up so nobody would know.
Gypsy was a stray. The night before she jumped on me in bed she had snuck into the house with my dad. She was God’s gift to me. We were inseparable.
One afternoon I arrived home from school and knew something was wrong. She didn’t greet me at the door like she usually did and I ran through the house frantically looking for her.
“She’s gone,” my mother and father told me. “She won’t be back. The manager of the apartment came and took her away.”
“Where did they take her?” I cried.
“The manager said they would dump her off on the road somewhere far from here. You know the apartment complex doesn’t allow dogs.”
I ran out of the room and up the stairs to my bedroom. My mind was flooded with memories of the most important thing in my little world. My heart was broken, confused, and hurting. Gypsy was gone.
That night bolts of thunder crashed outside my bedroom. Lightning pierced through the window shades. I imagined Gypsy in the darkness. I could feel her white warm fur against my skin and see her dark, brown eyes pleading for me to come to get her. I cried into my pillow as peels of thunder bounced off the walls. If Gypsy ever found her way back, I vowed to run away with her. I would never let anybody take her from me again.
But the next day came and went and she didn’t return. I went to school each day hoping for the impossible, that somehow she could find her way back from wherever they dumped her.
It was Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. We were packing things up to go visit my new father’s family in North Carolina. My mother had recently remarried. I kept looking up the hill in front of the apartment, imagining that she would come running down the street any minute. I knew it would be impossible, but still, I hoped. I made one last trip to my bedroom. The car was loaded and we were ready to leave. I picked up my pillow and thought of the first morning she licked me on the face in bed.
“Please, Gypsy, come back to me. You need a home and someone to love you. I need you.”
I walked out the door of our apartment to get into the car. I glanced one last time up the hill. Out of nowhere, suddenly, there was something white. Was it, could it be—I dropped my pillow and started running up the hill. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me, my mind racing to think what seemed like the impossible. It couldn’t be—but it was.
Gypsy ran frantically toward me, tattered, dirty, and exhausted. Somehow she had miraculously found her way home through the raging storm. After being lost for days in the cold November nights, miles from our home, Gypsy had done the impossible. She had found her way back to me.
“Gypsy!” I cried. I crouched down to grab her as she jumped into my arms, holding her tightly around the neck, crying and rejoicing all at the same time. My dog was lost, but now she was found.
“I will never let go of you,” I promised. She squealed with delight and licked my face. For the first time in my young life, I knew there had to be a God.
The picture above is one of only three pictures I have of my beloved dog. She died of kidney failure when I was fifteen, and as we were burying her, another huge storm came up, with thunder and lightning, completely out of nowhere. It was a beautiful day. We had to rush to get her buried.
I truly believe there was something supernatural about Gypsy. God gave her to me to show me God existed and loved me. I promised Gypsy that someday everybody would know who she was, that I would tell the world about her.
I didn’t have any idea how that would happen when I was fifteen, in the dinosaur age before the internet and all the other technology that exists today, but I didn’t doubt that I would. It was a promise I made to her, and I’m thankful that I kept my promise. It was as if I made that promise to God. Dog is God spelled backward, and God revealed Himself to me in a dog that loved me, and for that, I will always be thankful.