Prana, our beautiful golden retriever whose name means “breath of life,” isn’t with us anymore. She died of cancer years ago. But while sharing our home, she brought such joy and love into our lives that we still miss her. There are so many wonderful stories about the love in this dog, but my favorite is one that created an indelible image of how to graciously give what is needed without reserve.

It was an autumn day in Minnesota. But the weather didn’t seem to know the difference between fall and winter. We were hit with a big snowfall for which no one was prepared.

We have two apple trees in our backyard. Prana loved apples. When she went outside, she’d grab an apple, stick it far back in her mouth, and sneak it into the house to save for nibbling on later. The apples had been on the ground and were often muddy, so I wasn’t always happy that Prana brought them into the house. Sensing my disapproval, she’d turn her head, so I wouldn’t see her hidden treasure. It was our little game.

On the day that it snowed too early in the season, Prana went outside, and I watched her from the window. I noticed that she was frantically digging holes. This brought the apples to the surface so they could be seen above the snow. I wondered why she was doing this. She seemed intensely occupied with a mission to dig up as many apples as possible during her yard time.

When I called her back into the house, she carried the usual one apple in her mouth. About five minutes later, I looked outside. The yard was completely covered with birds. It looked as if Prana had dug all those apples for her bird and squirrel friends to eat because they wouldn’t have enough food to survive such an early winter! Tears sprang to my eyes as I witnessed this beautiful act of unconditional love from a creature who taught us how to serve life with such grace.

Could you try actively looking for service you can give, like Prana’s digging up the apples? Could you fill the copy machine at work, water plants at home, cook someone’s favorite dinner, or find other simple ways to bring more love into your life and the lives of those around you?

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