Four-Legged Loyalty

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Graham Etches goldenretriever square

Several years ago my husband, Peter, broached the topic of getting a dog. He had grown up with indoor dogs and thought our family could benefit from a canine addition. I was not so sure.

When I was a little girl, my father raised hunting dogs. At various times we had beagles and blue tick hounds, but I never played with them. They lived in a fenced-in pen with a wooden-framed wire door that stayed latched.

For the most part, my father cared for the dogs, but sometimes I had to feed them. I scraped long strips of leftover hardened grits into metal bowls of dry dog food and traipsed through the grass to the edge of the backyard.

When I walked into the pen, I held the bowls high. They jumped up on me and their sharp toenails often scratched my skinny bare legs. Looking back, I’m not sure if they wanted food or attention. Maybe they were starving for both?

I was careful to watch where I stepped. It’s no wonder those dogs stank!

When the whole ordeal was finished, I latched the gate properly and went about my little girl business.

Those old hunting dogs were all I could think of when Peter suggested we get a dog. It took months for me to come around to the idea.

The moment we walked into the breeder’s kennel and I saw those adorable little golden retriever puppies, though, I was sold.

We brought Archie home when he was six weeks old. For the first few days, I couldn’t stand the thought of him being home alone when we were at work and school, so I took him to the office with me. Fortunately my boss at the chamber of commerce was very understanding.

Archie was never far from my side. While I worked at my desk, he snuggled into my feet and slept. If I walked down the hallway, he waddled along behind me.

In those early days, I even took Archie in the car with me everywhere I went. His tiny little body curled in my lap as I drove.

The next year I resigned from my job at the chamber to start my own consulting business. I worked from home and Archie became my co-worker, colleague, and loyal companion.

It’s been like that ever since.

Archie sees me at my worst, yet he doesn’t seem to mind.

Morning breath? Bed head? No problem for him. He still requests his morning hug as I sit in the red chair and sip hot caffeine from my favorite porcelain mug. Now 6 years old and more than a hundred pounds, my “puppy” wedges himself between my legs and rests his chin on my thigh. That’s his signal for me to lean in and shower him with affection. I gladly oblige.

This morning, Peter and I had a significant disagreement. (It happens in all marriages, right?) Without thinking, I made an ill-timed comment that only made matters worse. Peter called me on it; I became defensive. He left for work with a quick, “I love you,” on his lips, and I’m not even sure I responded.

I finished getting ready for work and placed my now-cold coffee in the microwave. As I stood there waiting, it hit me. Peter was right.

When the microwave beeped ready, I removed the cup and stirred in natural sweetener. I plopped into the red chair to reflect on the best way to say “I’m sorry.”

I didn’t’ recognize it at first, but once again, Archie is curled up at my feet. Snoring.

We couldn't publish an article about Archie without giving you a peek at this video about lots of other loyal canines who sit at feet all around the world while we work, play, and sleep. Enjoy "So God Made a Dog" (if you are reading on a mobile device, click here to watch the video):

Image by Graham Etches. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Video by RedTettemer via YouTube. Post by High Calling Face Book Editor Cheryl Smith.

EDITOR'S NOTE: On Thursday mornings in July, we are exploring loyalty, what it means to be devoted to a person, a cause, a group. For many, the word invokes patience and longsuffering through a difficult job, for others, it reminds them of the soft fur and wet licks of a family dog, still others think of loyalty to God or to family or to country. Join us this month to consider where your own loyalties lie.

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