Since I was four years old I have almost always had the companionship of a dog. I wrote the following as a tribute on June 4 1984. The day my closest companion and friend died. Cayce was a simple mutt...a shepherd-collie mix. He was just a few weeks old when I "rescued" him in July 1973 from a neighbors backyard in Greenville, SC. We were together eleven years...through some of the most difficult years of my life...and he changed me forever. Even now not a single day passes that I don't think about him and try to honor him by living all that he taught me. 

Click photos to enlarge

As a puppy, Greenville, SC 1973

1975 Pittsburgh

Playing with a little Yorkie 1975

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Cayce & Me

The Life of a Dog....

I AM BORN....not as you are amidst clean conditions surrounded by loving, joyous faces. But more often in a back alley or cardboard box filled with old rags. The curses of my mother's owner echo in my ears as he now ponders feeding six or more new mouths. I will probably never know my father. But as with you the shear thrill of being alive occupies me constantly. Our worlds are very similar in those first few weeks of life. We suckle and enjoy the warmth of our mother and though I must compete for attention with my newborn brothers and sisters, I don't fact I enjoy it! I sense how wonderful it is to be alive!

But suddenly my world changes....perhaps it is changed when my mother's owner takes us all to a place with many others of our kind. There I am locked in a small dark cage. There is barely enough room for me to move and certainly not enough to run... as I love to do. How could my mother's owner do this? Doesn't he realize I'm important! I'm alive just as he is! Now I must wait...wait and hope that I am not rejected by the occasional strangers who pass my cage. For to be rejected for too long means death. Sometimes I am spared the loneliness of the cage or even death. A stranger comes and from all my brothers and sisters...he chooses me.

This stranger doesn't know me!...he has never run with me or played with me. It doesn't seem to matter that I wish to remain with the others, or in the warmth of my mother's bosom. I am chosen and must go. And although I offer my best bark of protest it changes nothing. I will see my family no more. I now belong to the stranger. I soon find the stranger expects many things of me. I must obey him or be punished. If he forgets to feed me, I don't eat. Sometimes I must labor for him. But I find my world the cruelest when no one seems to care whether I exist or not....I am ignored and set aside, as a novelty which has lost it's glitter. Of all possible fates it is this one I dread most deeply. The strangers rejection. For you see as my time with the stranger has passed, I have begun to feel something warm and wondrous inside me. Something very special. I love this stranger, who is now my master. I treasure each moment he spends with me. I look forward to each pat on my head and I tell him so with a wag of my tail or a lick on his hand. Each walk we take together is a private moment I will reflect on later. Sometimes we go to the big park, with trees and large grassy fields. He throws a ball or Frisbee and with my best loping strides I'll race to catch it. Sometimes I don't bring it back to him...just to tease. He pretends he's angry, but I know he's not. You must understand that I know my master better than any of his friends or other companions. I sense things in his movements, hear inflections his voice makes and even see the tears he'll cry in front of me that others will never be aware of. I try to make him feel important by giving him my constant attention. Sometimes this makes him angry and he shouts at me for interfering with what he's doing....but that's OK because I love him. When I seem to upset him the most he slaps me. But that's Ok too because I love him. It's just something inside me...this unconditional love.

Often I lay in the sunshine and wonder if when God created me He didn't make this part of my spirit, this unconditional love I carry. The more I think about it perhaps He's trying to show my master an important principle of His Kingdom. How wonderful to be an instrument of God's Love! I want so very much for my master to learn this lesson of loving without condition.

Time has passed so quickly for master still seems so young and full of life...almost unchanged since our first days together.  And now, I'm so tired. My coat which was once shiny brown is duller somehow and flecked with white and gray. We've been together so many years....I think I heard him say eleven. We have shared so many wonderful moments, but one important task is undone. My master has not yet seen the lesson I have borne. Many times he has been close to understanding but something always happens...his "feelings" get in the way: Pride, selfishness, prejudice... all of these have somehow suppressed my important message of unconditional love. I am sorry, for I have tried so hard....but now I'm tired and as I lay here I sense my master holding me and whispering in my ear..."I love you...I love you..."I feel as though something is changing between us...that I am leaving him. I have tried but it is finished now. Perhaps yet today I will again run and play with my mother, brothers and sisters. I will be anxious to hear their stories and learn whether their masters understood  the message they bore to them...the message each of us has carried...God's principle of unconditional love. 

1985, 2002 R. Craig Tower     


I believe the humble dog is the greatest animal God ever created. No animal on earth is capable of the unconditional love and loyalty that this simple creature gives. I've often wondered why God created such a wonderful companion and yet allowed such a relatively short span of life. I've come to believe it is because there are so many dogs in need of homes. So we have always tried to care and shelter as many as we could.....Craig 


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