"A Borrowed Christmas"
(By Kathy Pippig Harris - CritterCrazy@AnimalFan.net)

12-14-2006 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story #420
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Welcome
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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds”].


This week's SOW Seeds Story, contributed by: Patije

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Story of the Week
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“A Borrowed Christmas”
(By Kathy Pippig Harris - CritterCrazy@AnimalFan.net)

He first saw Mazy while on the job with the gas company. He had driven past an auto body parts business, and she was running inside a small, fenced-in enclosure. There was no grass in the pen -- only dirt and a metal feeding dish.

Every time a vehicle drove by, she'd run with it, smiling, tail wagging, until she hit the back fence. She'd then bounce around and run to the other end. She seemed frantic to find a friend in the passing cars. Her behavior haunted Terrence, so after he finished his call, he drove by the business, hoping to speak with the owners about the dog. The office was closed for the lunch hour.

When he got back to the office, he dialed the business and spoke with the receptionist. He learned that the dog was kept there all the time and had been there for just under a year. He told the receptionist that, should the owner decide to get rid of the dog, he would love to be notified.

Two weeks before Christmas, Terrence got a phone call. The owners of the auto parts yard had sold the business. They could no longer keep the Black Lab. Did he still want her?

* * *

She came home as an early Christmas gift. She had never been given a name. Tammy named her Mazy.

Tammy had hung a stocking on the mantelpiece for Mazy, and come Christmas morn, Mazy quietly walked over to the stocking filled with doggie goodies, and gently pulled it off the hook. She then padded over to Terrence and held the stocking out for him.

Terrence thought Mazy wanted him to pull the little doo-dads out of the stocking, so she could have them. So, Terrence took the stocking and laid it on the floor, tipping out some of the contents, then sat back so he could watch Mazy enjoy her gifts.

To his surprise, Mazy nosed the items that had rolled out, back into the stocking, then she gripped the stocking in her teeth and handed it back to Terrence. Her gift to him.

When Terrence glanced over at his wife, they both chuckled while, at the same time, blinking back happy tears. The true gift that Christmas had been the welcoming of Mazy into their family.

Blessed with a loving, giving spirit, Mazy became a therapy dog, at the urging of Mazy's obedience trainer Doug -- a close family friend. Doug volunteered with a group from the local SPCA, and every Thursday they visited one of the convalescent hospitals.

Mazy was a natural in the art of caring and brightening the spirits of the residents they visited. She became very popular and had attracted the interest of the press.

During the Christmas holidays, a year ago, a local television station did a special on therapy dogs and the benefits they bestow on patients in care facilities. Mazy was the star of the show and had garnered an even greater following.

Soon after, while Terrence was at work and Tammy was out on errands, someone broke the lock on the backyard gate. When Tammy got home, Mazy was gone. All efforts to locate her were unsuccessful, and the loss of their gentle fur girl was a wound that dug deep into their hearts.

* * *

Tammy nudged her husband. "Come on into the family room. I have two steaming mugs of chocolate and Irish Cream waiting for us in front of the fireplace. You can build a fire, and we will relax before the guests arrive later."

Terrence followed his wife into the room. From the stack of wood near the hearth, he prepared the fireplace. As he bent over, he heard that familiar sound of nails and paws on wood. He shook his head, just as a weight dropped on his shoulders and back. Tammy gasped loudly, and Terrence spun around.

Mazy, covered his face with sloppy kisses and doggy-breathed pants. Terrence threw his arms around his fur girl. It was a dream. A dream, surely.

He heard the rustling of paper at his ear and drew back. There, in Mazy's collar, was a handwritten note. Terrence sat back on his heels, gazed into Mazy's warm brown eyes. A cold draft filled the room. The front door was ajar, the porch light on. Their was the sound of a car pulling out of their driveway...

Tammy took the note, and as she began to read, Terrence sank his hands into the warm ruff of Mazy's neck, hugging her long and well.

* * *

"I have a feeling your Christmas just got merrier, and mine a little sadder. Over six years ago my wife, Donna, found an ebony colored pup on our doorstep. She doted on her, and the pup became a member of our family.

"As the pup grew, she'd often disappear for days at a time. Frantic at first, we would chase after her, search for her everywhere. Each time we'd find her in the company of a human who, for various reasons, was in need of a friend. She did this so often we started calling her Chasy. One day she did not return.

"Eighteen months ago, Donna was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimers.

"On Christmas Day last year, your Black Lab scratched on our front door. She looked so much like our Chasy. I started calling her by that name. She and my wife were inseparable until her death three days ago...

"After the funeral, Chasy took a small Christmas stocking off the mantel, came over and laid it in my lap. She whimpered, then trotted to the front door and scratched at it to be let out.

"I opened the door. Chasy walked over to the hedges and began digging. In a few moments, she returned -- a dirty collar in her mouth. She then made soft talking sounds and dropped the collar at my feet.

"As I picked it up, I noticed two grimy tags: a license tag and an ID tag. Mazy... I couldn't believe it. Her name so like our Chasy's. I looked from the tag to the Black Lab before me. Mazy's expression went from hopeful to wistful.

"Mazy leaned into me, her weight against my legs like the embrace of an old friend. She looked up at me and I knew her visit was over -- she wanted to go home.

"I had cleaned her collar and the tags jingled brightly as I slipped it over her head. I then bent down and sobbed into her shiny fur.

"It was a quiet ride for the two of us, as I drove to your place. When I reached over to open the door to let Mazy out, she nudged my wrist, licked my hand and sighed.

"In my sadness and grief, I had forgotten this letter. I pulled the note out of my shirt pocket to write the final words. I finished and glanced at Mazy. She extended her head, urging me to place the note in her collar as we had practiced.

"Thank you, from a stranger who's been warmed by sunlight, wrapped in the shiniest black fur I have ever seen. Welcome her well. When you hug her, please hug her for me. I couldn't do so to say good-bye for fear I'd not let her go."

* * *

"Do you still have her stocking?" Terrence asked his wife.

"I sure do," she answered tearfully. She then gave a faint smile as tears spilled from her eyes.

Mazy wagged her tail, uttered a whine of understanding. She turned to look back at the front door, still ajar, and sighed. Both of her humans were sniffling, talking in soft voices, and watching their fur girl.

"Are you happy to be home, girl?"

Mazy padded over to the front door, stepped up to it, then turned so that her rump brushed heavily against the wood, shutting the door.

Mazy trotted over to her humans, stood between them and hung her head. Terrence and Tammy gratefully bent over and embraced her. Mazy's long powerful tail began wagging fiercely and a smile graced her ebony face.

Out front, parked across the street from the couple's home, a man thought fondly of his wife and of the blessing that had graced their lives the past year in the form of a shiny Black Lab.

Before driving away for good, he lifted his head and gave thanks to God.

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Kathy Pippig Harris is a writer, an author, and an animal lover. Her desire is to help those animals who must rely on humans to be their friend, advocate, protector, and family member. She wants her writing to be a tool that may make that difference.

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Pastor's Quote of the Week
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Children are permanently impressed only by the loyalties of their adult associates; precept or even example is not lastingly influential. Loyal persons are growing persons, and growth is an impressive and inspiring reality. Live loyally today--grow--and tomorrow will attend to itself. The quickest way for a tadpole to become a frog is to live loyally each moment as a tadpole.

(From: The Urantia Papers - Paper-100 Section-1)

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The Prayer
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Dear God,        
        Thank You for Dogs! We humans could learn so much from them if only we Would.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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