Mercy and Me: How My Rescue Dog is Helping Me Grieve

by | May 23, 2023

I am unabashedly a dog mom. I have adult children who are wonderful human beings, but I also have other living beings that I take care of who reside in my house. And they mean the world to me. (By the way, new research suggests that cat and dogmoms‘ and ‘dads‘ really are parenting their pets ) Anyone who doubts the importance of animals and how we need to care for them needs to read this post. It’s a great one on what the Bible says about caring for animals. And also, by the way… (I know I overuse the phrase “by the way” especially when I have something to prove) all dogs really do go to heaven. (Revelation 5:13)

About a month after Gus died, we were driving back home from visiting our son and his family in Atlanta and having a super hard day of missing Gus (my bio father who had just passed away) and I suddenly had a thought, “I need another dog.” It sounded crazy, even to me. We have a dog, an amazing dog named Manchester (Manny). Here is our little chunk of amazingness…a Pentecostal bulldog. (I bet you’ve never seen a Pentecostal bulldog until today.)


We love bulldogs, and I never imagined having anything but a bulldog. I thought to myself, “Do I really need more responsibility?” Immediately, “NO, I do not!” came to mind. I knew it made no sense. But then I quickly thought, “When have I ever limited my life to things that make sense?” Upon doing some reading on the subject, I discovered that a research study that was done discovered that pets were more effective for grief support than humans. Maybe what I was feeling really did make a lot of sense after all.

No sooner did I think this about welcoming another dog into our home when literally minutes later, our son Dustin (who lives just a few miles north of us) texted us with photos of a dog that ended up on his property. Dustin and Taylor live out in the country and a sweet little dog ended up at their door. She is a Doxle (Beagle/Dachshund mix) She was a filthy mess and starving. She had probably been roaming outside for God knows how long.

Dustin bathed her numerous times and she still wouldn’t come clean. It appeared that she had been soaked in  some type of thick oil. Nicole (Taylor’s sister) helped him try to get her cleaned up, but nothing was working to get all the oil off. Dustin even used Dawn dish soap. It didn’t work. He took her to the groomer that we all use (Cathy at Spaw and Play) and Cathy got her thoroughly clean and smelling good, clipped her nails that had grown incredibly long, and cleaned tons of black gunk out of her ears. Dustin then took her to his vet who checked her over and realized she was not chipped. After he knocked on many doors in the neighborhood, called the county shelter, and put lots of advertisements online, no one claimed her.

So, Larry and I decided to officially adopt her, through the county shelter. We wanted to go through all the right channels, do a proper search for any family she may have, and adopt her legally. We all decided on the name “Mercy,” because God had mercy on her, then Dustin did and then we did. Lots of mercy all around.



While the shelter was doing a search for her family, and waiting to see if anyone would come forward, we were allowed to take care of her in our home. During this time she had all her shots, was chipped and spayed, and had medical attention for other things needed for her health. It was rough going out there for her in the woods, and she had a lot of healing to do. The vet estimated her to be about a year old and said she had already had a litter of pups.


She’s a survivor. Florida had record-low temperatures during the time she was roaming about, and she survived out there with nothing!! One thing I love about her is, even though she bears a few (literal) scars from her journey — one on her head and one on her back, I have never in my life met a dog with so much love to give. She wants to cuddle 24/7 and has the most gentle disposition.


So, Mercy has provided overwhelming love and at the same time she’s the most challenging dog we’ve ever tried to train. Of course, this is to be expected. She’s a rescue and was completely untrained and had a bit of PTSD. For a while after we got her, when we would take her outside she would run toward the bushes and try to eat them. I assumed that maybe this was what she tried to live on when she was trying to survive. After being with us the last four months, she has finallly realized that we are going to feed her and she doesn’t have to nibble on the bushes or the grass. It has also been a great challenge to potty train her as the whole outdoors was her toilet and there was no such thing as the indoors for her for a while before she came to be with us. She is finally getting the hang of it although she still has accidents. Her way of telling us she has to go is to run to the door, then run and hop on our lap, then run back to the door. The problem is, if someone isn’t sitting down so she can hop on a lap, she hasn’t figured out how to tell us. (Yes, we’ve tried a bell hanging on the door. It didn’t work.) Although she still has accidents at times it’s getting better all the time. These are her challenges but her contributions to our family are much greater…


She’s the greatest “alarm” dog we could have. She can sense very quickly if anyone is anywhere near the house. Even if someone pulls up in the driveway, she knows it even if she is on the other side of the house. One night at about 3 AM she began to bark incessently and we had no idea why. We thought maybe she had to go potty. When we went out to see what the issue was we discovered there was a deer that had quietly come up and sat on our back patio. Mercy picked up on it right away and started going crazy. She also shows more affection and pure love than most dogs we have had. When Larry or I come home from work she runs around with such excitement, I have often been afraid she’s going to hurt herself. She leaps up on things, leaps back off, and runs around in circles like she just found out she won the lottery. She will slam into things or knock things over she gets so excited when she sees us. We have things set up relatively “dog proof” so I’m usually not worried about our things but I do sometimes worry she’s going to hurt herself bolting around like she does when she’s so happy. Once she has run off her energy she loves snuggling at night and is the greatest cuddler ever. She intuitively knows when I need a little more love than usual. Research shows, this is common for dogs. (Have you noticed, I love research? I’m a big fan of discovering reality.) For all the extra work that Mercy is, she makes up for it with so much loving care coming right back at us.


Mercy is an ever-present help. (Who does that sound like?) She never gets tired of dishing out love and affection. EVER.


God knew that Mercy needed us, and that we needed Mercy. I love how God cares for us, and for the animals. He cares about the birds of the air, and he cared about a little Doxle, trying to find her way around Dade City, Florida. And he cares about me, as I’m trying to bounce back from having to say the hardest goodbye I’ve ever had to say.


1 Comment

  1. Florence Bernstein

    When we were about two years old, our mother took my twin and me to the doctor for our scheduled infant checkups. At the time, we had a dog named “Jack”. We pronounced his name “Doc”in our infant tongue. During our appointment, the doctor and nurse were astounded and beyond impressed when we kept calling out the word “Doc”. They thought we were referring to the doctor, and were beyond impressed with our precociousness! My Mother, always full of mischievous humor, never said a word, knowing full well we were calling for our dog Jack who was probably just outside, waiting to accompany us home.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe & Receive Your Free Book

Live and lead authentically with my free gift to you, "29 Ways to Become Your Most Authentic Self".  Upon subscribing, you'll be taken directly to the PDF which you can download. 

Thank you for subscribing!

Share This