I have always maintained that dogs are more Christian in their loyalty and unconditional love than humans. More forgiving, more loving, and more attune to the physical needs of the humans they love. I love this quote by Mark Twain, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” Knowing how much I love dogs, it will not surprise you that this true story always makes me cry and humbles me.
In Cadiz, Spain, in the 1990’s, there lived a man who had a dog named Canelo. On the surface, Canelo looked like just an average dog of the area - nothing unique stood out about him from his appearance. But he was very unique on the inside and had a huge heart that loved his owner beyond belief.
His owner lived alone and Canelo was his only true friend and companion. Every morning the local people would see them walking together through the quiet streets of the city when the old man took Canelo for a walk. But the man was also very ill and once a week they would walk to Puerta del Mar Hospital, where the man was undergoing dialysis treatments due to kidney complications.
Because the hospital's rules did not allow animals inside, he always left Canelo waiting at the door. The man would undergo his treatment, meet Canelo at the door on his way out, and together they would head home. This was a routine that had been going on for a long time for them.
Sadly one day the man suffered complications in the middle of his treatment. The doctors were unable to revive him and he passed away in the hospital. But, Canelo as always, was waiting outside on his own lying by the door of the health center only to have his owner never come out. Canelo sat there, day after day, waiting for his owner. Neither hunger nor thirst would persuade him to walk away from the door. In the cold, rain, wind or heat, he continued lying at the hospital's door waiting for his friend to come out so they could go home together as they always had.
The local people soon realized the situation and decided to care for Canelo but to still allow him his freedom. They took turns to bring him food and water, and even arranged for a pardon from the local dog pound when he was picked up by them. During this time, Canelo waited for twelve long years outside the hospital for his owner to return. He never sought a new family. He only knew that his only friend had gone through that hospital door, and that he would wait for him so they could return home together someday.
Finally on December 9, 2002, Canelo was hit and killed by a car outside the hospital. It seemed a tragic end to a wonderful example of loyalty and unconditional love for all those years as he waited. But at long last, Canelo's wait was over. He was finally reunited with the one that he loved. His story was well known throughout the city of Cadiz, so in recognition of the love, dedication and loyalty of Canelo, the city named an alley after him and put up a plaque in his honor. May the loving and loyal dog known by everyone as Canlo, now walk forever with his beloved human.
Christ used all kinds of local things to make His points. I think He would have used this story, in fact, I think He did. It worked for me. When someone uses the word “loyal” I think of a dog named Canelo.