During our married life, we have had many wonderful pets, most of whom were rescued. As each one passed away, our hearts were broken, but the loss of our German Shepherd, Sheba, was the hardest loss of all. She was very special and came to us in a very special way.

Sheba lived next door to a very precious lady friend who was in my Bible Study group. Every week Elsie would come to Bible Study and ask all the ladies to please pray for the dog next door. She had told us that her neighbor, a former Army dog trainer, was in the process of a divorce, and wasn’t spending much time at home. To “get back” at her husband, the dog was being abused by the wife and was being kept tied on a very short chain. She couldn’t get to her food or water, and was forced to lie in her own feces. Elsie would sneak over under cover of darkness and feed and water Sheba, clean her up, and then sit with her for hours at a time in the dark. So, every Wednesday the Bible Study ladies would pray. . . pray that Sheba’s chain would not get tangled up, pray that the bees would not sting her, pray that Elsie wouldn’t get caught in the yard, etc.

Then one week Elsie said that she couldn’t take it any more. She asked that we pray that the owner would come to her and say, “Elsie, if you can find a good home for Sheba, I’ll give her away.” We all thought that this was a little bit much to ask for since this Army dog trainer had spent many hours training Sheba, but Elsie insisted that we pray to that end. Well. . . the next week Elsie came in beaming! She said that the owner had come to her door the night before and said, “Elsie, if you can find a good home for Sheba, I’ll let her go.” She asked that we pray that “someone” would be willing to take Sheba. At that point, my Mom looked at me and said, “I think that there is going to be another pet in your home, Linda”. At that time, we had 4 cats, 2 dogs, 20+ birds, and a wide variety of fish! My husband was laid off from work, we had 3 teenagers to feed, and I couldn’t imagine how we could possibly feed another mouth, let alone a very large 2 year old German Shepherd. But. . . we prayed that “someone” would take Sheba. As we ended the prayer session, Elsie asked me to please go home and ask my husband if he would consider just seeing Sheba. I promised Elsie that I would ask him, but I let her know that it probably was not going to happen.

When I arrived at home, I told my husband about the answered prayer – that Sheba’s owner came to Elsie and said he would let Sheba go if she could find a good home. He said there was no way that we could take in another mouth to feed, let alone bring a very large 2 year old German Shepherd into our home with so many other animals to deal with. Elsie called on the phone to check up on the “cause”, and I informed her that I did tell my husband about Sheba, but he was not receptive.

About 1 hour after our talk, my husband came into the kitchen and said, “About that German Shepherd. . . I think I would like to see her.” At that point, I knew my Mom was right. We got into the car and drove to Elsie’s. She was thrilled. The owner was home, so Elsie took us over to the yard. As we approached the back yard, Sheba came bounding around the corner, and immediately ran right up to my husband. The owner couldn’t believe it! He said he never saw her act like that before with a stranger. As she was nuzzling up to my husband, I put my hand out to pet her. She snarled at me, showing her menacing teeth. At that point, I wasn’t sure that I wanted my husband to say yes. But he did. He explained that we were going away for Thanksgiving, but would pick Sheba up on Sunday night when we returned. I was somewhat apprehensive, to say the least!

On Sunday night, my husband and I went to pick up Sheba. We were given her leash, her favorite toy, and her feeding dish. When the owner opened the front door of the house, Sheba went right along with my husband like he was her best friend, and then proceeded to jump right in the front seat of the car to sit next to him. When I went to get in the front seat, she snarled at me and gave me a look like “he’s mine now!” I had to sit in the back seat on the ride home.

When we arrived at home, my husband brought her in the house. She was extremely nervous, and had to deal with many new “pals” and kids, and smells. The poor girl got diarrhea. It was a traumatic couple of hours for her. The only one she felt easy with was my husband. The kids were “afraid” of her, as was I. After a while, my husband decided to “hit the hay”, as he had driven all day back from our trip. Sheba followed him right into our bedroom, and proceeded to lie at the side of the bed. A short time later, as I attempted to enter my bedroom, Sheba met me at the door with a menacing growl. My heart was in my throat! At that point, I decided that it was time to let her know that this was not acceptable behavior. With much trepidation, I grabbed her collar. Immediately, she fell to the floor in a submissive posture, and had a fearful look on her face. I then realized that she was more afraid of me than I was of her. I told her that I would never hurt her, but the man in the bed was my husband, and this was my bedroom, and I was here first, so she would have to behave. She looked at me as if to say, “OK, I get it”. I then showed her where she could sleep in our bedroom; she then lay down, and she and I were best friends from then on.

The next day, as each of my teenagers came home from school, I told them how she was actually more afraid of them than they were of her. I encouraged each one to approach her, talk softly to her, and assure her that they were not going to hurt her. As each one did that, she became submissive to them. They all became great friends to a truly wonderful dog.

Elsie came to visit Sheba every day for a few weeks. Elsie was so happy that Sheba had a good home, and thankful that she didn’t have to worry about her any more. A few weeks later, my dear friend, Elsie, died of a massive brain tumor. It helped us all to know that Elsie was a great woman of faith.

Sheba was with us for another 3 years. She was a beautiful, wonderfully trained animal, and extremely attached to my husband. She wouldn’t leave his side. The first morning with us, he walked her along the edge of our property. After that one walk-around, she never stepped out of the property boundaries all the days that we had her, unless, of course, she was on one of her very much enjoyed walks with her adored master. We could let her out the door, and she never left the property, even if another dog went by or a cat ran across the property.

We were having a family get together for my son who was on leave from the Air Force. My husband came to me and said that he couldn’t find Sheba; that he had been on a walk through our woods with his brother, and Sheba was, as usual, right by his side. He said that as he was talking with his brother, Sheba ran from him up to a boulder, stood on top of the boulder, and looked at him. My husband continued to talk with his brother, and as they came out of our woods, he realized that Sheba was not back at his side. We both knew immediately that something was very, very wrong. Sheba NEVER left my husband’s side! We immediately went back into the woods and looked and called everywhere. No Sheba to be found. We soon had all those at the get-together searching for Sheba, but to no avail. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that something had happened, but what? We searched and searched into the night. We searched for a whole week. It broke my heart to see my husband walking everywhere he could, calling and calling Sheba. We put out posters and searched the shelters. Sheba literally disappeared. Finally, one full week later, I told my husband to bring me one more time precisely to the very spot where he saw her last. And this time, we found her, crouched under the leaves. Watching my husband bury her was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. Our vet told us that he believes that she knew she was dying when she ran to the rock and looked at my husband. He believes that she hid from him so that he wouldn’t have to see her dying. I believe that also.

I do believe Sheba was a gift sent from above to show all of us that even the smallest prayers are answered, and that when we have faith and trust and courage to step up and do the right thing, all things work for the good. And Sheba’s story continues to bring that message to others.

Sheba was a very special girl. We think of her often and we thank God for the time He gave us with her.

Linda from NY