By the time Hank, our 100 pound shepherd/lab mix, was 2 years old there was no fence that could hold him in. He didn't jump over them. He didn't dig under them. He simply plowed his way through them. He would head butt and push his way through until the nails gave out, the board loosened and he could make his great escape. When we replaced the nails with screws he would pound the fence until the actual boards split. What did he do with his new found freedom? He would run to the front yard, lay down and wait for us. Seriously. All that pain and hard work was just to get to the front yard. I think he felt he good take better care of us from the front. He could see who was coming and going and keep us safe from any harm. I'm not saying he never wandered off, but the majority of the time, after a "prison break" we would simply look for him in the front and there he was, standing (or more accurately laying) guard.
These days, we don't even try. Hank spends most of his days out in our front yard watching over the neighborhood. He has become a bit of a neighborhood icon. When we meet new families at the pool, they will say "Oh your the family with that huge dog that just lays in the front yard! What a great dog!" Almost all the kids in the neighborhood know him by name. Of course the only time you won't find him in our front yard is if the kids are playing at a neighbors house. Because Hank goes with them. He follows them to whoever's house they go to and then lays down at the front door and waits for them to walk them back home! I know exactly where my kids are at all times, all I have to do is look for Hank and I know whose house they are at. God blessed us with neighbors who enjoy Hank as much as we do and they don't seem to mind when he lies on their front stoop waiting for his kids.
One day Isabella and the girl next door were playing together. When my neighbor stepped outside she didn't see the girls so she asked Hank, "Hank where are the girls?" Hank got up, trotted to the back and sure enough, Isabella and her friend were playing on the swings!
When we walk the kids to school, Hank goes with us. When the older two were each in kindergarten I would have to go inside to get them. So Hank would stay outside, hooked to JT's empty stroller and wait for us, no matter how long it took! He would just sit there and wait for us to come out. DELIGHTED to see us when we did. One day, I was volunteering in the class so I didn't take Hank. My husband didn't realize this and let Hank out shortly after I left home. When I walked out of school an hour later there was Hank. He had walked himself down to school and sat there waiting for us to come out!
The love Hank has for his family is inspirational. He offers each one of us unconditional love, instant forgiveness, and at times, fierce protection. He lets nothing stand between him and his family and will follow us, literally, anywhere we go. I have learned a lot from this dog. Here is just a few things
I. Love with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30) I know Jesus said this but Hank LIVES it!
2. Love always protects, always trusts. (1 Corinthians 13:7) Who knew Hank studied the scriptures?
3. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
4. I will lie down and sleep in peace, (Psalm 4:8) Hank has ALWAYS appreciated a good nap!
The results are back, Hank has cancer. Writing the words make it seem much more real. There isn't anything we can do. He's old. We will just watch and see. He seems to be doing great right now. They didn't give us a time frame. We may have a few months, we may have a few more years. But the dog I really was hoping would live forever, won't. I knew he wouldn't but still...
So in the time I have left with him I will try to love him as perfectly as he has loved us. I will love him with everything I have, I will protect him in anyway I can, I will stick close to him as long he is here, I will play with him and rest with him. Because he is the best dog God ever put on the Earth!