A Holiday Gift

Many of you know how much I love animals, and how I love giving back to my communities through charity work. This week, I had an unexpected gift given to me. It came in the form of a beautiful dog, which I named Ginger.

Lee Hammond's therapy dogs

Jackie and her new friend, Ginger, acting like bookends.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you feel as if you’re being directed by the cosmos? I mean, it’s as if you’re powerless for a moment, and you either walk somewhere unexpectedly, call someone randomly, or in this case, your car takes you somewhere you never intended to go. That’s what happened to me. One moment I was having lunch with my son and a friend, the next moment I was at the local animal shelter. What?

What was I thinking? Obviously I wasn’t thinking, I was “feeling.” I’ve had the feeling lately that Jackie, my therapy dog, was feeling lonely. I’ve lost two of my other dogs within the last year, and now she was an only dog. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s rare that I’m the owner of just one (to me, it’s almost like the saying about eating potato chips). Anyway, I’ve seen emptiness in Jackie lately. Her eyes seem droopy and sad when I have to leave her behind, and unless she’s working with me at the nursing home or in the art studio, her demeanor seemed depressed. But right now Lee? My inner voice asked. Really? I have Thanksgiving coming up, which means a trip to Nebraska. And I’m leaving for Kentucky for Christmas soon, and then heading south for Florida. In Florida, I have a house the size of a garage, and no fenced yard. Yeah, let’s get another dog! Good grief.

But there I was, strolling down the aisles of barking fur-babies, with an insatiable desire to help one of them. I found an adorable little guy–a black and white sheltie/border collie mix. He reminded me so much of Penny, whom I still cry for everyday. Being a smaller dog, it seemed like a good fit. I would sleep on it, and return the next day if it felt right.

Artist Lee Hammond's newest addition

She feels like she’s been her forever.

That night, I dreamt of my new dog, and how it would help Jackie return to happiness. But in my dream, it wasn’t the dog I had looked at! Nope. It was the big dog that just happened to be in the pen next to me, when I was entertaining the little one. Something about her face had struck my soul. Without realizing it at the time, we had already connected.

That morning I was curious as to why I hadn’t dreamed of the black and white dog. Later, my friend Pam went with me to shelter to see the little dog I described. I brought Jackie for a meet-and-greet to check for compatibility. She’s so good with everything in life that I wasn’t really concerned.

He was just as cute as I had remembered, and well behaved, too. Pam agreed that he was a cute little stinker, so I went to the car and got Jackie to introduce her to her new little brother. I was shocked. She wanted nothing to do with him. She refused his advances, and looked the other way. When I tried to pet both of them at the same time, Jackie let out a small growl. She was clearly not interested or impressed.

Needless to say, I was terribly disappointed. “Maybe I’m not meant to get another dog today,” I said to Pam. “What about the other dog you mentioned?” she replied. Yes, I had told her of the dream. I mentioned the dog to the volunteer, and agreed to at least look at her.

As soon as she walked in the door, Jackie’s ears perked up, and her tail began to wag. The two did the “nice to meet you rear end sniffs” and within minutes were walking around together. This new dog already seemed to have some training too, for when I offered treats, both her and Jackie sat on command together. When I said, “Lie down,” both went to the floor in unison. Some things are clearly meant to be.

The new dog is now named “Ginger,” for her face and personality reflect that. I brought her home, and am already working on her obedience, for she too, will become a therapy dog. She will be perfect for the job of uplifting others, and sharing her love.

Life is a mysterious thing. You never now when a gift will enter your life, and change it forever. I intend to use this opportunity wisely, and pay to forward.

I cannot imagine a greater holiday gift! I hope yours is just as awesome. Happy Thanksgiving!


Edited by Cherie Haas, online editor of ArtistsNetwork.com

Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!

Free download! Easy Acrylic Painting Techniques by Lee Hammond

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