A Therapy Dog Named Gabriel

Do you believe in angel dogs? If not, you will after reading Gabriel's story.

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Posted in , Nov 20, 2014

Gabriel the therapy dog and Peggy

In the November 2014 issue of Guideposts, I wrote about my husband’s serious hospitalization. So serious, the doctors weren’t sure he was going to make it.

One thing I didn’t mention in that article was as I was sitting in the darkened ICU, praying for Mike to survive–and for me to survive–I heard the patter of paws down the tile hallway. There in the doorway stood the largest, fluffiest dog you’d ever want to see.

Gabriel the therapy dog and Peggy.Gabriel.

I threw my arms around him and buried my face in his fur. Then I went to my husband’s bedside, lowered the rail and helped guide Mike’s hand to Gabriel’s soft neck. Gabriel sat still, head resting lightly on the mattress. I’m convinced Gabriel knew what he was there for. I could feel the power of his gentle spirit.

I want to tell you the rest of Gabriel’s story. He lives with his human mom and handler, a wonderful woman named Sally. God had prepared Sally for the experience, long before Gabriel was even born!

Several years earlier, Sally had lost her beloved German shepherd, and after some time felt ready to find a new dog to join the family. As she was searching, she felt a quiet whisper on her heart. Bernese Mountain dog.

“Oh no,” Sally argued. “I want a German shepherd.”

Bernese Mountain dog.

Sally didn’t even know what a Bernese Mountain dog was. She had to go look it up. “Oh no, that dog is all wrong. Too big. Too furry. I want a German Shepherd.”

Shortly thereafter, a repairman came to do some work. As they chatted, before long, the subject got around to dogs. “What kind of dogs do you have?” Sally asked.

“Oh, I doubt you’ve even heard of them,” the repairman laughed. “I’ve got Bernese Mountain Dogs.”

There it was again! Having a hard time ignoring it, Sally did a little research and discovered that a Bernese Mountain dog could be the right match for her. So, she began searching for a breeder. At the same time, the name of her new puppy formed in her mind. Gabriel. His name would be Gabriel.

Finding a Bernese Mountain dog puppy isn’t exactly easy. When Sally found a breeder with a female dog named Angel, everything seemed meant-to-be. She called the breeder. “When Angel has a litter, I’d like one of her puppies.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the woman on the phone replied. “We’ve tried to breed Angel for years. It just hasn’t worked.”

Sally hung up, disappointed. She kept searching, but no puppies turned up. Then, the next spring the phone rang. It was the same breeder. “Are you still looking for a puppy?” she asked. “Angel’s pregnant!”

So, that’s how Sally and Gabriel came together. Gabriel wears a cross medallion attached to his collar. When patients ask about it, they open a door for Sally to share a little about God. Sometimes they ask her to pray for them.

Sally and I, and Gabriel, are now friends. Gabriel has ministered to me through two of Mike’s surgeries, and the loss of our beloved golden retriever, Brooks. That’s because before he was even born, Gabriel was destined to be an angel dog, sent to comfort and care for those who are hurting.

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