He packed 110 pounds with broad shoulders, sharp teeth and Herculean strength, yet his ferocity showed only through his ability to love. This week, we said good bye to our big ole yellow lab, Gabriel, like the angel.
As I mope around our big old creaky house, missing my shadow, I think how life slips away quickly, especially for our dog friends. Maybe that’s why they love so intensely. Would we love each other better if we knew time were more urgent?
I can even say he reflected all the traits we are called to carry – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and even self-control. Okay, sometimes he had trouble with self-control but only when provoked by pesky cats or chipmunks, or tempted with food.
I strive to love ALL people. Gabe loved freely. No matter who you were. You could stink like sweaty socks or week old garbage … oh wait, he liked that. But, you get the point. He loved everyone, even those who refused to share their food.
He was glad to see you if he was tired and even managed a tail wag when he was in pain. When we would yell and treat each other poorly, he would courageously nuzzle his nose under our hands. His big brown eyes begged for us to stop and forgive each other.
Gabe was somewhat of a local celebrity in Ellensburg, where he worked as the official greeter in our antiques store for more than eight years. He took his job quite seriously, strutting in his tie, like a peacock. He was a great employee and an effective advertisement, as customers returned wanting to see the big yellow dog, who greeted them at the door for a treat and a tummy rub.
I realize it doesn’t sound very Christian-like to say that my dog knew how to love others better than I do, but what can I say? It’s true. I will keep working on it.
To be loved by such a creature is a wonderful gift. God’s love is present in all His creations.
Gabe Aug. 2001 – April 2014