• [Richard Spillman] What a Dog Taught Me About Life

    [Let’s welcome back Richard Spillman for his guest post on living life outside of the shadow of death. This 2018 we want to remember the beauty of the Christian’s redemption through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. With this redemption, we no longer live in the shadow of an inevitable end, and instead live in the light of eternity.

    Happy 2018 to all of our friends.]

    I had a yellow lab named Jolie (French for beautiful). She came into my home first as a guide dog for my wife, Bonnie, who is blind. After serving Bonnie for almost 2 years she went lame and required 2 surgeries. The guide dog school decided to retire her from service and asked me if I could take her to work while Bonnie broke in a new guide dog. I agreed and quickly discovered that Jolie could help me. From that moment on she became my service dog, a gift from God.

    Jolie out on a walk with me during better times

    Jolie out on a walk with me during better times

    She went everywhere with me. I became very attached to her. All her life she worked selflessly for either Bonnie or me. That is why this post is difficult for me to write. But write it I must, because she taught me how to live a life of wisdom.

    As most labs her age, she developed terrible arthritis in her back legs. When she laid down it made it difficult for her to get up. It was hard to judge if she is pain because she was always been good at hiding it. It wasn’t long before I had to make a very difficult decision. It was a decision that I didn’t want to make—I felt like I had to play God, and I was not equipped to do that. But I didn’t want to wait too long and prolong her suffering, yet I didn’t want to proceed too soon and rob her of even a few days of life.

    Jolie with Pretzel Bonnie’s new guide dog

    In the end, she had one more lesson to teach me. While I wrestled with the sadness that I knew lay ahead, I began to think of her life of service. She had few needs and no wants beyond her needs. She trusted and loved everyone she met and found meaning in helping others. She lived her life day-by-day, finding joy in the simplest things. She had no concept of death. While she had no concept of eternity, she lived life as if there was no end.

    Now almost ten years after I had to say goodbye to her, I carry that lesson in my heart. She didn’t live preparing for death, rather, she lived her life walking in eternity. Now when I write fiction, I like to have a character that is my Jolie. A character that gets what it means to live walking with Jesus.


    Richard Spillman, author of the AWAKENED trilogy.

    Richard Spillman has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and has taught Computer Engineering for over 30 years. He retired two years ago.

    Since a university professor has summers off, he used that time for mission work. In 2004 he founded the Kingdom is Near (KIN) Ministries. He has also taught in DTS for YWAM in Mali, South Korea, India and the Philippines. Richard is active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Wattpad and LinkedIn. On Wattpad he as posted several short stories from the world of The Awakened.

    You can learn more about Richard at his website: spillmanrichard.com

    Or on his Facebook Group

2 Responsesso far.

  1. Richard, what a beautiful tribute to your beloved lab, Jolie. I understand what it’s like to lose a faithful companion, and I love your idea of paying tribute to Jolie through your fiction while also thinking of the bigger picture.

  2. RobbyeFaye says:

    What a sweet tribute to a beautiful dog. I’m so sorry for your loss. Even though it’s been a while and she was not human, she gave you a lot of love and companionship, not to mention, her help, too, and I know you miss her!
    I love that she’s the inspiration, not only for your life but also for your stories!
    Blessings~

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