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By Kathy Jeffers Smith

The lady was distraught over her elderly father dying. She wearily lay on the couch praying that God would somehow console her. Blessed sleep finally came, then the amazing dream began. . . .   She saw her father walking through a peaceful meadow when from the nearby stand of trees came his old faithful hound running to greet his long time master. Her father and his dog had a joyous reunion, then contentedly walked on together. The lady woke up with a great sense of release. She knew immediately God had given her a glimpse of heaven where her father, who was a follower of Christ, lived on in contentment. You see, the old hound had died several years ago -- she hadn’t thought of him at all recently and certainly never dreamed of him. God was reassuring her that life doesn’t end when the body dies – not for the beloved pet – and certainly not for Christians like her dear father.

This true story, as I remember it, was published in the Guideposts magazine. I find my faith strengthened from this lady’s experience and others who’ve had similar dreams or visions or near death encounters with heaven. It’s comforting to be reminded of the continuity of life – of God’s great love and provision through our Lord Jesus Christ. I find peace thinking about those in my family already passed on and even hope for the beloved pets I have to say goodbye to. 

Our 15-year-old hound, Mollie, seems to be coming to the end of her life here, and this makes me sad. I wouldn’t say that Mollie is our dog so much, but rather that we are her people. You see, we hadn’t been living here on the farm long before friendly Mollie started showing up at our door, so to speak -- and staying. We soon found out she belonged to our neighbors through the woods, but they were having a hard time keeping her home. Mollie is a full-blooded Blue Tick hound, probably bred to be a hunter, probably a valuable dog. So our friend and neighbor came after her time and again, but by the next morning she always had slipped out of her collar and was back at our house.

Then our neighbor did a generous act of kindness to this animal – something I will never forget.  He knelt down eye to eye with Mollie in our front yard and ask, “Do you want to live here girl?”  (If you ask me, too few folks recognize that animals have feelings and spirits which can be nurtured and enjoyed or broken and ignored).  So happily, Mollie has been a part of our family for about 13 years. 

Mollie is a regal hound, worthy of her breeding, and she has definitely been queen over all our other pets. She would insist on having first choice at feeding time, insist on visitors greeting her first, and wouldn’t allow the underlings to be petted on when she was so obviously available.  Her confident stature sports her black and mottled white coat, her velvety-black ears, her large white paws with gothic black toe nails, and her long expressive tail (a waving banner when she’s happy, an exclamation point when she means business). Mollie’s soft brown eyes are the windows into her spirit shining with love and intelligence and life still. 

Friendly to a fault to all our neighbors (of the human kind), she would frequently accompany them on their walks or wait on their doorsteps for a treat or occasionally poop on their porches (Oh Mollie, Mollie).  But she firmly guarded her territory -- I am convinced God sent her to us to keep the coyotes and other varmints at bay. And, of course, she loved to hunt and run rabbits and chipmunks and most anything else.

Once, after missing her for a good part of the day, I woke suddenly in the middle of the night wondering if I had accidently closed her up in the apple house earlier. So with a robe, slippers, and a flashlight, I went out there to find her patiently waiting inside – confident I would eventually rescue her. Made me think she is a bit telepathic or maybe just has an angel looking after her.

Mollie has her flaws, of course. She is afraid of loud gunshots and thunder and veterinarians.  But really, who isn’t? She prefers people food or the cats’ food over her own if given the choice, but, again, what sensible dog doesn’t?

In her old age, Mollie has contracted heartworms, and, without a miracle from God, this will hasten her death. My thanks to her vets, Dr. Garrett and Dr. Hawkins, and their staff for doing all they could do for her. And I am sorry I didn’t have her on prevention medicine these last few years, but she is the only dog we’ve ever had to be affected by this parasite. Listen to your vet, though, -- have all your pets on heartworm prevention medicine -- always.

I take comfort that Mollie has enjoyed a full, happy life with a comfortable home, people that love her, and freedom to run the fields and woods to her heart’s desire.  And I take comfort that I feel God near in sad times of life such as this.

In my perfect world, all pets would be happy, loved, and free.

In my perfect world, dogs would have a life span of 50 or so years, like parrots.

In fact, in my perfect world, there would be no sad goodbyes.

Hopefully, I will be ready to release my grand old hound dog into God’s hands, but I (and the rest of her pack) will miss her. 

You’ve been a good friend, Mollie.  And when the time comes . . . see you on The Other Side.