anne_mikolay_120As an artist, I enjoy painting dogs. I examine the dog's face and stare into its eyes until I “know” the pup well enough to put brush to canvas. Some dogs are difficult to “read,” yet others very definitely confirm the adage “eyes are a mirror to the soul.” Justice, a beautiful dalmatian, was such a dog.

I loved Justice the moment I saw him; his big, brown eyes drew me in. Here was a dog with great character, a gentle creature with a supernatural “knowing.” Justice was a dog with heart. He loved winter, and I loved seeing pictures of him kicking up his heels in the snow. When his sister, Liberty, passed away, Justice was sad, but bravely put one paw in front of the other and moved forward, partly I believe, because his owner needed him to. He responded to her loss with his own comfort and strength. And when a wee dachshund puppy joined his household, Justice became a “big brother,” showing the little one the way, helping her learn the doggy way of life.

Perhaps I am a bit heavy on the anthropomorphism for non-animal lovers to accept. “Non-dog” people don't understand pet lovers' tendency to ascribe human traits to animals, but all the science of canine instinct will never convince me that dogs do not possess souls. Justice was my proof. When I looked into that gorgeous dog's eyes, I sensed a deep, loving soul looking back.

Justice passed away on Monday, July 11. I am going to miss him, but I am grateful I knew him. I learned from him. If you have to ask what a human can learn from a dog, you will never understand the answer.    

Every once in a while, something or someone comes along and takes my breath away. A hummingbird in graceful flight. A statuesque deer in a field. A child giggling innocently. Squirrels scampering in circles around a tree stump. A bright, yellow goldfinch feasting at the bird feeder. Such wonders stir reverent pause in me and offer proof of God's existence.

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Such wonders, like Justice running freely in the snow.

Rest in peace, sweet Justice.