This is Murphy and her "mom" at Oak Mountain State Park, and it's probably my all-time favorite photo.
Why? Well, as I've written several times, my wife and I were "nuts" about Murphy. And now, I'll probably convince some of you that we are just nuts in general.
Anyway, after having Murphy in our lives for 11 years, we developed this notion that maybe she could connect with God in a way that we could not. Why did we think about this? While our daily lives were wracked with fear and worry and uncertainty, Murphy never seemed to experience those feelings. More than once, Mrs. Schnauzer or I have said something along the lines of, "Why are we even here? Is it just to be tormented by unethical lawyers and corrupt judges?"
These kinds of thoughts never seemed to enter Murphy's mind. She seemed to understand exactly what her mission was, and she wasn't going to be distracted from it. Her mission, as best we could tell, was to help keep us relatively sane during a horrible time in our lives. She took great delight in her mission, and we are eternally grateful that she not only helped keep us functional, but even brought a sense of joy and hopefulness to our home--at a time when it felt like it was under siege.
Perhaps that's why, when we view this picture, we see Murphy looking up to her Creator and saying, "Big Guy, I'm doing my best to help these people. What do you want me to try next?"
Before you dismiss us as fruitcakes, consider this: We know that dogs can smell in ways that we can't smell and hear in ways that we can't hear. Is it possible that they can connect with God in ways that we cannot?
We are in touch with reality enough to realize that Murphy probably was looking at a squirrel in a pine tree in this photo. But we believe in a loving God, and we wonder if he presents himself on earth in mysterious and unknown ways--perhaps in the form of a beloved pet.
Human activity these days does not present much evidence in favor of a loving God. We seem to spend much of our time inflicting harm upon others, and the planet. So perhaps it's the "least of these," our animal friends, who truly embody a loving God.
That's how Murphy seemed to us. We like the idea that she could connect with God in an intimate way that we could not imagine. And we take comfort in knowing that she is with Him now.