Hi! I'm Eileen Gibb, of Pets' Place Boarding Kennels in Salem, near Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
My Dog Story:
When I was a child, I always wanted a dog to love. But we stayed in a Scottish tenement flat up two flights of stairs and my Dad said, "No!"
I begged and pleaded with my Dad to let me have a dog. I promised to take the dog out for walks every day and to feed it and take care of it. I sulked. I cried. But Dad refused.
After I got married and moved to South Africa, my late husband bought a puppy for the kids. It was an endearing little floppy-eared Basset Hound called Charles. A year later a friend gave us another Basset Hound puppy. We called her Diana. Nature took its course, and Charles and Diana had puppies of their own. Now I was suddenly a dog breeder! When folk came to look at the puppies, they asked me questions about dogs that I couldn't answer. That motivated me to go to the library and devour piles of dog books. The more I read, the more interested in dogs I became.
Over the years I bought another two Basset Hounds. We stayed in Springs, in a street where the gardens were small and the houses close together. It was impossible to keep the dogs quiet all the time, so for the sake of the neighbours, and the dogs, I started to think about moving to a plot or a small farm.
Taking the plunge
When the company I worked for offered retrenchment packages to all the staff, I took the plunge and quit, knowing full well that I'd never get another job at my mature age. I had a vague plan to buy a small farm and live off the land.
I saw an ad in the newspaper: "Grahamstown. Cottage on 25 acres. 13 dog kennels." I had no idea where Grahamstown was but I phoned out of curiosity. I had a feeling that I'd never find a better place, so I put in an offer, sight unseen. The offer was rejected as it was too low, so I took the bus 1000 kms to Grahamstown to see if the place was worth the price they were asking. We were met at the bus stop and taken 20 mins drive into the country to see the cottage. It was quite charming in a pretty valley. I didn't see any other houses; the cottage seemed quite isolated. I put in a higher offer, and this was accepted. I had exactly enough money for the house, the lawyer, telephone, electricity, and the removal van. Then I was broke!
Folk said I was mad to move from the town to live alone on a farm. "Don't you know folk are being murdered on farms?" they said.
"They're being murdered in the towns too," I'd reply. "All we can do is get ready to meet our Maker."
My family dropped me off at the cottage and said Goodbye. I was alone. Living in the middle of nowhere, with no money, no friends, no family, no car, and no public transport. The first few nights I was so scared of burglars I slept with the light on. My friendly basset hounds were no burglar deterrent. Then my Scottish shrewdness said, "You know, you're wasting money!" So I put the light off at night. After a week, I was so lonely that if a burglar had come I'd have asked him in for a cup of tea. I felt completely isolated. I had no one to talk to and was afraid that my vocal cords would seize up, so I sang hymns, but it sounded so lost and pathetic that I'd burst into tears. Yet I knew somehow that I'd survive.
I worried about how I would get food once my fridge was empty. My nearest relative was now 1000 kms away and I had no one to turn to.
I phoned the nearest newspaper and placed an advertisement about my boarding kennels and waited for the phone to ring... & waited... I'd often pick up the phone to see if there were a dialling tone. The wind blew leaves into the kennels and I swept them out. How sad it was to see the kennels with no dogs in them! Isn't it strange how the Bible seems to express our feelings better than we could ever put words to them ourselves? I read Habakkuk 3, 17 - 19:
"Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength."
I admired Habakkuk's determination to be strong and joyful in God.
Even when the water pipes burst and the borehole pipe seized up, I drew strength from God! Reading the Bible every day had made me a strong person. I would persevere!
My own dogs loved it. They had lots of space to explore.
God was merciful!
I discovered that I had no reason to fear, because God had gone before me. He had already set up a shop-cum-post office within walking distance and I got to know the shop owner.
I discovered a house hidden by trees. I had Scottish neighbours within walking distance! I went and introduced myself. We discovered that we had both lived in Edinburgh. We had lots in common! The neighbours soon became friends and took me to town often.
British immigrants had settled in Salem in 1820 and the stone building they erected for their church meetings was still in use and it was within walking distance! It took courage to walk into a country church, knowing no-one, but I did it. The next week I screwed up my courage and did it again! Gradually, by going to the church week after week, I got to know the folks.
One day the phone rang and a stranger asked, "Do you have room for my dog this weekend?"
"Room? Er yes!" I stammered.
I looked after that dog like it was a king!
Since my move here in 2002, there have been many dogs and cats come to stay. The kennels is now a flourishing business. Do visit this page if you are interested or know any animal-lover who would be interested: Kennel for sale.
I'm thankful to God for giving me the chance to live my dream all these years. But I'm at retiring age now, and am ready to sell up and move on. Perhaps someone else will take the chance to have this pleasant life-style.
So that is how I went from being a dogless child to being Aunty to countless dogs in a boarding kennel. God could have softened my Dad's heart and given me a dog to be my childhood friend. He hears every word we say. But sometimes God waits till we have gained maturity before answering our childish requests. Today I'm grateful to God for all my doggy companions. A dog is a faithful friend! I must admit they can be exasperating at times, though!
A dog's prayer to it's owner:
I'm sorry I ran away and didn't listen to you! I'm starving. I rolled in dirt and now I stink. I've got ticks sticking to me like bad habits. I can't get rid of them myself. Please submerge me in dog dip and shampoo me. I want to be clean! Make me the kind of dog you want me to be. I'll never run away again! I want to go home!
This is the kind of prayer we can adapt to fit our own needs.
What's your story?
Well, that's my dog story. Do you have a dog story you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you! Or make a website about your hobbies and interests. Add your testimony and I'll visit it and read your story. We can encourage others by sharing our life experiences.
Read the stories of other Christians at www.TryJesus.com