Surprise Sally

September 22, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Susan Dollyhigh –

“Eating words has never given me indigestion, and I never felt discomfort in my abdomen after I chewed and swallowed,” Winston Churchill once said.

I have to agree. Some of the sweetest words I’ve ever eaten were, “I will never have a dog live in my house.”

God spoke to my heart in July 1996, and this non-puppy person had an overwhelming desire to surprise my son, Eric, with a Basset Hound on his 15th birthday. We chose Sally from a litter of ten adorable puppies who tripped all over their ears as they ran and played that sunny, summer day. We brought that trembling puppy home with us, and my maternal instincts kicked in. I held Sally close to soothe and comfort her, and surprisingly felt my heart being soothed and comforted in return. Looking into brown puppy eyes, I discovered what I’d missed over the years by not having a pet to love, and a pet to love me.

Sally was the wonderful distraction my family needed as my beautiful daughter, Emily, dwindled away from us and into an eating disorder. We tried to maintain our lives through counseling sessions, doctor’s visits, and extended hospital stays. But the days were long and dark as Emily’s condition deteriorated. Sally, with her heart-shaped spot, loved and comforted us through those difficult days that turned into weeks and then months and then years.

Many changes occurred in our lives over the next twelve years. But this dog, who I thought was for my son, turned out to be my faithful companion. Sally eased the adjustment as our family moved across the country. She stayed close by as my children left home for college. Sally comforted me through many long and sleepless nights after my mother passed. She helped me transition as we moved back to North Carolina where she lived out her last years. Sally taught me how to love in a way that I never had before.

Sadly, the day came when Sally had taught me all that I was supposed to learn from her. When the vet picked up Sally’s lifeless paw, placed it on the ink pad, and then pressed it to the keepsake paper, my heart ached and tears streamed down my cheeks. But I knew Sally had left this earth having fulfilled her mission. Sally left her paw print on my heart, and taught me many lessons on unconditional love.

QUOTE: A pet is someone who listens with their heart, speaks with a look, and teaches with love. (Seen in vet’s office)

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you…In God’s hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7 and10).

About Susan Dollyhigh

Susan Shelton Dollyhigh is a free-lance writer, columnist and speaker. Susan has two children and three wonderful grandchildren and resides in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Susan is a contributing author in Spirit and Heart: A Devotional Journey, Faith and Finances: In God We Trust and The Ultimate Christian Living. Susan’s articles and devotionals have appeared in Connection Magazine, Exemplify Magazine, Mustard Seed Ministry, P31 Woman, The Upper Room and The Secret Place. She is also a contributing online writer for and
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