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Life Lessons from Gracie the Dog

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. —1 John 4:7 (NLT)

Sometimes on my morning walk with my two-year-old golden retriever, Gracie, we encounter the unmistakable Billy. Billy has a disability. I’ve never asked him about it, but having grown up with a brother who had Down syndrome, I’m pretty sure that’s what Billy has. But Gracie is especially eager and happy to greet Billy when she sees him coming down the street in his slightly awkward gait with arms outstretched and a smile almost as wide.

“Googoo!” At first Billy had trouble remembering Gracie’s name, but once I told him we nicknamed her Googoo, he never forgot. Gracie pulls me off my feet if she sees Billy first. She dives on the ground and rolls on her back, shamelessly exposing her belly, which Billy obligingly scratches. “Are you having a good walk? Today is going to be a good day because you are a good dog!”

While we’re in the midst of the moment and the middle of the side- walk, a jet stream of pedestrians rushes past us. Most are very under- standing. Some scowl, but many more smile. It is quite a sight, the two of them. Sometimes I wonder, Did I fail to notice Billy all that time before we got Googoo? How often did I pass him walking to the subway in the morning? How many times did I fail just to give him a smile? As I said, he is unmistakable. It seems like I couldn’t have missed him. But my sensitive, loving dog didn’t pass him by. She took to Billy right off, the first time she saw that smile and those open arms. Gracie looks up at me from Billy’s feet, with that wonderful, sloppy smile she has and seems to say, “This is how you love.”

Dear Lord, my eyes are often closed even when they are wide open. Help me see like Googoo does, with love and acceptance, especially for those most in need of it.

Digging Deeper: 1 Corinthians 8:3

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