All dogs go to Heaven

Ferdinand awaiting an order at Botanica Florals.

By Doug Grahn

The evening before Thanksgiving, a 10-year-old “great soul” passed from the Montpelier community, where he’d spent his life spreading love and joy. His name was Ferdinand, and he was a beautiful golden retriever. Ferdinand worked as the “customer service dog” at Botanica Florals for nearly 10 years, where he doubled as store greeter and town therapy dog.

Everyone who met “Ferdie” loved him. He was a comfort to the grief-stricken or those suffering with depression. He offered a brief reprieve to exhausted parents, and was the calm in the Covid storm for others. Children and adults with a fear of dogs slowly embraced him, and some who had difficulty communicating with fellow humans began to open up after hanging out with him. He was always there to lend a soft, satiny, golden ear, a friendly face and a wagging tail, asking nothing in return.

Ferdinand didn’t belong to the store owners (my wife Sonja and my sister-in-law Sarah McAllister). His “parents” were Montpelier residents Bronwyn Fryer and Dan Jones, who loaned Ferdinand to the flower store on weekdays. Of course, Bronwyn, Dan, Sarah, and Sonja all became fast friends and “relatives” to Ferdinand.

I read a story once by a veterinarian named Mark Ferrell about a dog’s passing. Ferrell was called to a home to put a beloved dog to sleep. He wondered whether the 6-year-old child in the family would understand what was going on. Someone in the family asked why dogs don’t live as long as people do, and the little boy answered with a profound observation. “I know why,” he said. “People come into the world to learn to live a good life, like loving others all the time and being a good person, eh? Well, as dogs are already born knowing how to do all this; they don’t have to stay as long as we do.”

Ferdinand suffered from poor health at the end, but you’d never know it by his happy spirit. Here are some lessons the gentle dog would like to pass on to his beloved community:

  • When your loved ones come home, always run to say hello.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to go for a walk.
  • Run, jump, and play daily.
  • On warm days, roll in the grass. On snowy days, roll in the snow.
  • When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • And never forget: When someone has a bad day, stay silent, sit close by and gently make them feel that you’re there.

A memorial service for Ferdinand will be held in the spring, date to be announced from Botanica Florals. Meanwhile, please write your favorite memories of him in the tribute book at the shop.

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  1. Dogs are blessings from God, and this beautiful guy is with his Creator as I write. No doubt about it. As a long time pet parent & lifelong admirer of our beautiful canine friends, I know from my own personal losses that dogs go on to everlasting life as do many people. The nearly miraculous experiences I was given witness to were from God, and were mercifully given so that I might be comforted in the knowledge that they were in His good hands and I would be reunited with them again.

    Thanks to both Ferdie and to his owners/pet parents who selflessly allowed this sweet soul to help brighten the days of darkness we are all enveloped in during these times. Run and play now within all the majestic wonders of Paradise, and never neglect to glance back over your shoulder for that appointed day when you will finally find Bronwyn and Dan and all who love you following fast behind. Godspeed, Ferdie. You were and are loved.

  2. “Every world has dogs or their equivalent, creatures that thrive on companionship, creatures that are of a high order of intelligence although not of the highest, and that therefore are simple enough in their wants and needs to remain innocent. The combination of their innocence and their intelligence allows them to serve as a bridge between what is transient and what is eternal, between the finite and the infinite. For those who despair that their lives are without meaning and without purpose, for those that dwell in a loneliness so terrible that it has withered their hearts, for those who hate because they have no recognition of the destiny they share with all humanity, for those that would squander their lives in self-pity and in self-destruction because they have lost the saving wisdom with which they were born, for all these and many more, hope waits in the dreams of a dog, where the sacred nature of life may be clearly experienced without the all but blinding filter of human need, desire, greed, envy and endless fear. And here in dream woods and fields, along the shores of dream seas, with a profound awareness of the playful Presence abiding in all things. – Dean Koontz 2001 – One Door Away From Heaven – Pg 670 & 671

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