A Dog’s Purpose

Luke is a mini Australian shepherd who showed up one day and never left. He was a stray who needed a home and my son was a boy grieving his dog’s terminal cancer. So Luke stayed.

a dog's purpose

During the day, he was the perfect companion for my son. They explored and romped and played. He was up for any game, but there was one thing he would not do. He would not sleep in my son’s room. We tried so many times, coaxed him with food and treats and even tried just locking him in the room. By day, he was my son’s constant companion, but the night belonged to him. He patrolled the property, barked at the coyotes and kept back the creatures that would do us or our livesock harm. He knew his purpose in life and he fulfilled it with the utmost faithfulness.

And then he went blind.

The blindnes has not seemed to hinder him. He still navigates our property at a full run. He plays with the other dogs, follows the children to do chores and does a complete 360 in the air to greet us when we get home. He is happy and full of life — until the sun goes down. As the sun sets, I call him in.

A blind dog does not need to be chasing coyotes.

When I call, he comes obediently, but it as if the life drains out of him each evening. His head drops. His shoulders sag. His stumpy little tail loses its wag. But in he comes, unsure of what to do with himself.

Late in the evening, sometimes, I will notice him lift his head from his cushion behind the rocking chair. His ears perk up for a moment, and then it is like he remembers and the ears drop, he places his head back on his paws and lets out a long sigh. A moment later, the other dogs hear it, run to the door and bark to be let out. But Luke no longer gets up from his spot. He knows I won’t let him out, anyway. There are coyotes near and I have barred him from his purpose.

“Oh, Luke,” I say in empathy and offer him a treat. I know he won’t take it, but I offer it, hoping that maybe, someday, he will forgive me.

I wish I could tell him he still has a purpose. A higher purpose, even.

When he gets disoriented and walks into a wall, I’ll hear one of my children call him softly. “Lukie . . . here, Lukie. Over here . . . ” And they keep talking until he turns, follows their voice and finds the stairs or the chair or the coolness of the bathroom floor. They have learned where he wants to go and he has learned to trust that low voice to get him there.

When he sulks behind the chair, my four year old will gently take his head in his small hands and exclaim, “Oh, Lukie!” and sit there stroking Luke until he lays his head down in my son’s lap.

And when the children play in the front room, they talk to Luke to let him know where they are at. They tap on the floor to move him out of their way or move their games somewhere that gives him space.

Luke is teaching them to think outside of themselves. He is teaching them to put someone else’s needs above their own desires. He is teaching them compassion.

And that’s not something just any animal can do.


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31 Comments on "A Dog’s Purpose"

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Neely
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I reallyaw nt to see this but I worry its going to make me cry!

Rose
Guest

This was very touching. Luke is teaching your kids so much. I love that they love him so much that they are making him comfortable and still interacting with him.

Rigel Celeste
Guest

What a blessing he is to your family! I feel bad for him, though, being so melancholy in his old age.

Marcie W.
Guest

This post definitely hits home for me. We lost our dog last summer after an 18 month battle with brain cancer. As devastating as caring for him was, losing him was far worse. I hope he knows he had a purpose until his last day.

Ruth Epstein
Guest

This brought tears to my eyes, my biggest fear is of Layla going blind but reading what the kids do as eased it for me, thanks for the great post

Dana
Guest

Oh, I hope your dog keeps her sight, but dogs really do well even when they are blind. They are not as sight dependent as we are. Their ears and noses tell them a lot about their environment! And our English Shepherd had a Layla! She is a sweetie that lives in the next town over from us and gets to visit once in a while!

Tonya Wilhelm
Guest

Luke sounds like an amazing dog. It’s so nice to have a dog in the family. What a way to bond and to teach children how to properly be with a dog.

Jenn
Guest

My dog became blind last year. It’s been hard for us to accept ☹️

Crystal
Guest

It’s amazing how much about life we can learn from our pets. It’s a wonderful bond your children must have with Luke. Hope they always remember the compassion he’s taught them.

Jasmine
Guest

This was so sweet. Thank you for sharing this story, I know it couldn’t have been easy.

Pooja Shama
Guest

This is so cute and wonderful. Luke is wonderful dog and having such a cute family member makes your family a perfect one

Carrie | The Lavender Hytta
Guest

Yes, our family pets have a purpose just like any of us have and sometimes to lose that purpose (or think we have lost it) can be a challenging time. It is so good that your kids realize the troubles that Luke face and help him. I hope that Luke realizes his other purpose and perks up.

Julie Plagens
Guest

Well, now I’m crying. That was absolutely precious. Your dog’s purpose is greater now than it was before. I wish he knew that.

Brandy
Guest

I love this story. Luke sounds like a lovely doggy and I agree, pets can teach some amazing skills that kids simply won’t learn as well or as deeply with any other experience. This made me tear up! (in a happy way)

Holly Lasha
Guest

great post. We don’t have a dog currently, and i so miss having one!

Sarah
Guest

Awww, was a great little story! We have 2 dogs that I absolutely love, I have always had a dog and can’t imagine life without one.

Annemarie LeBlanc
Guest

Aww. So touching! I don’t know how I will take it if my dog goes blind. Luke is so special, if he did not have four legs, he’d be more human than most humans out there in this crazy world. It is just so heartwarming that his disability has taught your kids empathy and compassion.

Ali Workentin
Guest

What a blessing Luke is to your family and y’all to him.