Dogs are angels in disguise.
God put them here to comfort us.
Without dogs, the world would be a dark place.
I used to believe in a Higher Power, but life made me jaded.
For a long time, I was an atheist, but I feel this was the wrong worldview.
Every dog is an evangelist who can help us find a meaning or mission to guide us.
Purpose isn't found inside of the self. It's a form of service that's performed for the outside world.
Helping shelter dogs find loving homes and forever families helped me realize this truth that eluded me for years.
Yesterday, I drove a business partner to a funeral for a family member.
We're starting a digital agency together and it's the first time we met in person.
Her car died and she didn't know anybody else who could play the role of chauffeur.
She brought this sweet baby, who's served as a service dog for approximately ten years.
He's earned the title. I kept him in the car with me during the service and he was so concerned.
His only goal is to care for her. He wants to be by her side at all times. Like a living, breathing security blanket.
It made me realize this is how many people perceive God. A Higher Power or Presence that carries us through turbulent times.
Say hello to Thelma.
She's a pit bull with a sad story.
Her previous owners were very bad people.
They kept her locked in a cage all day and night.
No walks. No belly rubs. They didn't even clean her living space.
Nobody took her outside, so she was always dirty and had to sleep in filth.
Despite living through a nightmare, Thelma still has an upbeat and loving spirit.
She totally trusted me and getting pet by strangers didn't bother her whatsoever.
Seeing the way she behaved helped me understand the concept of faith on a deeper level.
In spite of the horrible reality she's seen, Thelma has faith and knows her life will soon be better.
This hunk has a funny name: Peanut Butter.
Peanut Butter is as big as dogs get. He's got the bully gene.
Despite his overwhelming strength and size, he has a sweet spirit.
He curled up on the floor of my car and stayed in constant contact with my legs.
(Before you lecture me about safe driving, know he didn't move or do anything distracting.)
He's also easy to manage on a leash. I didn't need a tight grip. It was okay to let it dangle on my wrist.
Again, this reminded me of how many believers perceive God, the all-knowing and all-powerful Creator.
God could annihilate Earth with a single thought. With so much evil at large, it's easy to wonder... "Why not?"
But God is also an advocate of free will. He or She knows we are fully capable of saving ourselves from the darkness.
Effie is an old lady. Seventy in dog years!
The poor baby's teeth are in bad shape and need attention.
I've learned first-hand it's easy to accidentally neglect a dog's dental care.
Hanging out with Effie reminded me of the three long-term relationships I've had with dogs.
The first one was a short-haired black dachshund named Sport. Despite his tiny frame, he took his duty to protect seriously.
The second was a brown dachshund named Rusty. Every day, he sat next to the window and waited for me to come home from school.
The third was a beagle named Dixie. We overcame many trials together. I wrote a memorial for her last week. Click here to open it in a new tab.
I had an entire decade to build a strong connection with all three of these dogs. Our bond was deeper than any other with exceptions for Mom and Dad.
Many believers describe their relationship with God in a similar fashion. If God created every atom in the Universe, then He or She is always with us in some way.
Eros and I went for a walk on the third of September.
I didn't get to decide which dog to walk on that special day.
As I walked past his kennel, he broke loose and decided for me.
How'd he do it? No idea. We're lucky I was right there to catch him.
Dogs are clever creatures. They're smarter than most humans assume.
One time, I left an unopened bag of Oreo's on the highest counter in my kitchen.
Dixie wasn't known for her athletic ability. There's no way she could have jumped that high.
Nonetheless, I came home from work, and found a bloated dog laying next to an empty container.
The only realistic possibility? She would've had to get a running jump from the recliner to the kitchen counter.
Too bad this wasn't caught on camera. I bet she had to try a hundred times. The footage would surely be hilarious.
I've heard many stories about God calling people to tackle a seemingly impossible goal. They always resist this calling at first.
But as time passes and their faith increases, the path becomes crystal clear, and they adjust their approach to fit what's required.
I take selfies with shelter dogs and post them on my Facebook profile.
And I take more photos of them enjoying our walks downtown or at a park.
Pictures of shelter dogs inside a kennel don't highlight them in their best light.
For their unique personality to shine, you've gotta get them outside of that environment.
I've turned this philosophy into a repeatable process that's resulted in a hundred adoptions.
My rescue efforts were recently featured on WCYB, a major news station in the Tri-Cities of TN and VA.
In reality, I didn't save the shelter dogs. The shelter dogs saved me from myself. And I owe them a great debt.
Not only did they help me beat depression and suicidal thoughts. They also helped me find a reason to believe again.