By Jeanine Englert
Every year, I always receive unexpected gifts. Not the wrapped, shiny, commercial kind of gifts, but offerings of things that I could never imagine coming into my life. Every January, I pray to have any open heart to receive those gifts, as they often involve uncertainty, risk, and tiptoeing through a bit of fear.
On February 1st of this year, my husband and I lost one of the most amazing unexpected gifts we’d ever had: our sweet American Eskimo mix, Chloe, to intestinal cancer. She was a rescue, and one that literally followed my husband and our other beloved pup Maggie home from a run on April Fool’s Day back in 2011. She was covered in mud, had a bark collar on, and was dragging a rope behind her, one she’d chewed her way through to be free.
Fearing she’d be hit by a car, my husband brought her home, gave her a bath, and called the number on Chloe’s tags to let her owners know he’d found her. The man was angry at her running away again, but begrudgingly came to pick her up. When my husband made an offhanded comment to the man about how sweet she was and if she ever needed a new home she had one with us, the man didn’t hesitate and left her with us that night. All he took back was the bark collar. He left Chloe with us and drove away. I was so shocked, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
I have to admit, I was hesitant to get attached to her. I feared the man would change his mind and come back, and I was also heart-sore. I’d lost a sweet dog that could have been Chloe’s sister 8 months prior after having her for over 13 years. I didn’t know if I could love Chloe with my whole heart when she reminded me so much of the dog I’d lost. But, I didn’t know Chloe: she was impossible not to love with your whole heart.
The first few months she was shy with us as she’d never been allowed to live indoors, and she’d never been given treats or toys from what we could tell. The poor girl didn’t bark at all for years after wearing a bark collar for the first year and a half of her life. She’d “snap” her teeth together to show her excitement or get our attention. The more she came out of her shell, the more joy she exuded. She jumped and twirled in the air, hunted little creatures in the yard with her sister Maggie, and never met a stranger. She was always smiling. And her yawns. . . they were the sweetest noises you could ever hear.
So, even though we lost one of our treasures this year, it’s a reminder to always have an open heart. You never know what unexpected gifts may come your way.
Drop a comment if you’d like to share an unexpected gift that came your way in the past or even this year. I’d love to hear from you!
Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.
When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.
Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.
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