I’m not always attracted to “dog stories.” When I come across them in Guideposts, for example, I tend to pass them over for deeper ones. But something about this distinctive movie ad – the soulful knowing look in Duke’s eyes and the sorrow in his owner’s – tugged my soul immediately…
Have you ever watched a movie backwards?
That’s what I did last Saturday. If you are familiar with the Hallmark movie channel (sister to the regular Hallmark station), you know they often debut movies by showing them twice in a row – usually at 8 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. I’d seen an ad for Duke earlier in the week that caught my eye, but forgetting about it I’d wasted time on something entirely miss-able from 8 to 9, then gone channel surfing. (How I miss the old clear style TV magazine guides we grew up with! Onscreen guides often leave frustrating messages of “unannounced” in time slots and I end up going from one thing to another. Aarrgghh. ) That’s when I landed in the middle of this beautiful movie… and remembered.
I didn’t want to wait and watch until midnight, so I just jumped in…immersing myself in the last hour and then the first as it rolled onscreen once more… And this story and it’s characters haven’t left my mind or heart all week.
It gives you an unusual perspective… coming in on the crisis point, guessing at what’s come before, seeing the tender healing that comes full circle at the end. And then, backtracking to where the love of God stepped in… for who else could have sent this wondrous dog to this shattered man so completely out of the blue (but NOT)? When you see how he enters this man’s life… like a target messenger sent on a specific mission of unconditional love right to his feet…what other explanation is there than a loving Father whispering into Duke’s ear, Go boy. Touch him with your healing, all-encompassing love. For your love reflects Mine. No strings…no demands or remembrance of wrongs…just love. Help Me open up his heart again and restore a life lost.
Faith is not portrayed in an obvious or overbearing way in this film based on the true story of a husband and dad returning from war, utterly broken emotionally. Though he longs to, he’s unable to resume life as he knew it. Yet faith is there…moving behind the scenes… Sadly, some things are lost forever, but out of the sorrow emerges a restored father and daughter, a saved soul and a beautiful dog who almost seems to talk.
“He understands everything we say, you know,” the lead character says once. And everyone who touches him, including you as the viewer, would swear this dog does.
Towards the end, the man asks his daughter, “Do you think Duke will ever forgive me?” torn over something he’d had no choice but to do to help the dog. There is still something new to be done between dad and daughter, but in her own desire to love and heal, the daughter says from her heart, “Dad, Duke knows you love him. That’s all that matters...”
Pure love. No grudges held. No need for tested start-overs. Just ever-continuing of a love that goes on unconditionally. That’s the heart this dog brings to the man he adores. And in doing so, sets a new course of healing in him as a person of worth, as a dad on a road back to his family. I’ll just leave you with my conviction that this story could have gone a completely different way had our Father not sent Duke on his healing mission to this man and those he touched.
Other than that, I don’t want to give away any story details…for if you can catch this one, I highly recommend it! They are replaying it several times again TODAY on the Hallmark movie channel, possibly tomorrow, and I’m sure it will continue to pop up again and again in coming weeks.
Last Reflection: As I entered into this story, knowing it was based on a true one, God spoke into my heart how my old family dog came into our home for just such a time as this…for our Father knew the tragedy that was about to unfold. And I saw a lesson of unconditional love in her that is still with me. What a wonder dogs are…such a gift of God’s heart in so many lives…from seeing eye and handicap helpers…to just friends. Oh to have that unconditional love of God in every situation!
Are you willing? He asks us.
Yes, Lord… oh, help me to be so.
© Pam Depoyan
Sometimes such healing love may be found in a dog… or it could come in the form of a stranger’s smile, a teacher’s encouragement, a loving mother-in-law’s last words (as Diane posted recently)…but I believe God is constantly sending us messengers of His heart.
What are the distinctive ones that have come to your life…like an angel…just when you needed them?
Are you a different person because of them?