“The Comfort of a Cold Wet Nose” by Barbara Baumgardner

I hadn’t even wanted the dog in the first place! My husband insisted that I get him to replace the dog that had died recently. Soon, he was “my dog”, a friend and a faithful companion; not asking for anymore than I was willing to give—a daily meal, a kind word, a warm bed.

But not my bed! No dogs allowed on my bed.

The night after my husband died, I lay there, staring into the darkness, my pillow soppy wet with the unending flow of tears. The bed seemed so big all by myself and I was wondering how long it takes for a good case of loneliness to heal when I first felt it move. It was cold and clammy and creeping at a very slow pace into my open hand outside the covers. The solidified jelly like mass was followed by prickly hairs and just before I screamed, a muffled but familiar whine came from the creature that was forcing its cold, wet nose into my trembling hand.

“Oh, Shawn! What are you doing on my bed?” I threw my arms around his thick hairy neck and hugged and hugged.

In the days and months to follow, I came to realize that this dog I hadn’t wanted was a gift of love from God. He was a warm fuzzy on my bed every night; a companion always willing, wagging, and available to go out for a walk when I needed to get out of the house. Twice, he snapped at me as I wailed loudly and out of control, as if to reprimand me to be strong and of good courage.

Shawn taught me all about love and acceptance and forgiveness. That crazy dog loves me just as I am. And so I have learned to be a warm fuzzy to those around me who are hurting and to approach them gently, loving them just as they are. Like a dog curled up by the warm fire, I just want to be there in case I am needed. I thank God for providing me a friend when I felt alone, and for the comfort of a cold, wet nose.

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