Tails of Grace and Mercy


Before you get a dog, you can't quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can't imagine living any other way.

        Caroline Knapp

   As I’ve labored over this exciting new work – researching, meeting and talking with a number of people involved in the "Dog World", my conviction regarding the powerful impact these amazing creatures are having in so many lives grows stronger with each encounter. The unconditional love, devotion and in many cases, the essential support and service these four legged partners provide is truly remarkable. 

   What started out as a story of my own personal experiences with the canine loves of my life has morphed into so much more. As I began writing about how the presence of my fur bearing friends helped fill a need for love, companionship and comfort during the emotional pain and loneliness I experienced growing into young adulthood, I found that God had an even greater message for me to share.
   So many of my hardest moments, spent with each of my beloved four legged companions by my side, were, and still are, some of the most precious and bittersweet. The lessons learned, buoyed by their comforting presence invariably led me into the arms of the greatest comforter, teacher and healer of all, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And for that “service” I am eternally grateful. It is my prayer that through our story, you too may encounter the amazing power of the Greatest Love ever given.  The tender love of Jesus.

   A dog for every season. A dog for every reason. During the diverse seasons of my life a different shaggy companion was sent from above – each one specifically for the lessons and the gifts needed at that time. Grace, Mercy Joy and Comfort. Mary A. Mills

Let me introduce you to a few of the remarkable dogs that have so enriched my life and what each of them represent in this life…

Comfort: The Dog of my Loneliness; extremely sensitive to my every emotion and wholly devoted to me. She fulfilled a deep soul need for companionship and physical affection. My Emotional Support/Comfort Animal—this before this modern concept was a thing. Her faithful presence helped me to endure, persevere and prevail during the many physical and emotionally rugged miles toward healing and spiritual maturity in my walk with God.

“She came into my life, got under my skin, not just a dog, my girl, like kin”.

Grace: Just like her name, she was “The dog of my Peace” – sharing the beginnings of my wonderful new life in Montana – a peace-filled season of healing and refreshment, tinged with the growing pains – hard work of recovery – and learning a new healthy way of being. Though she loved to run a trail and got along well with other dogs, she was just as content to lie by the fire in winter or under the shade of a tree in summer.  She was my steady companion at work and at play, and given the choice to run with the dogs or be with me…I (mostly) always won out.

   In the thirteen short years of all of your life, you rarely knew sorrow, heartache or strife.
But joyful abundance, and moments of bliss. For our four-legged friends who could want more

Mercy: As a rescue dog, she suffered unknown trauma in her early months. Extremely timid and fearful of all things new, she was most secure when with her dog friends. It took a lot of time and patience for us to bond, but we made great strides in her short life. I discovered shortly after naming her that the root meaning of her name is mercy. When sharing my frustration over our difficult adjustment, I often thought back on how easy Grace was. When I shared this thought with a dear friend, she stated simply. “Grace is easy Mary, mercy is harder.”  Sadie, taught me much about being more patient, merciful and compassionate. Sadly her life ended all too soon, at the young age of four from a mysterious blood disease.  

When the name of dear Sadie came to my mind, I looked up the meaning only to find,
Mercedes, meant mercy – a lesson for me, A gift sent to teach, upon bended knee.

  The shock of losing Sadie, especially at such a young age, though incredibly painful, was but a shadow of the anguish I felt just two months later when one of my dearest two legged friends, Luanne, lost her fight against pancreatic cancer.                                                                                           


Joy: Shortly after losing these two dear friends I put my name on a waiting list for a puppy that would come from a spring litter. This wise decision filled me with a hopeful excitement that helped strengthen and heal my grieving heart. I had learned of a wonderful breed – the English Shepherd, from my veterinarian when he brought his dog with him while on a ranch call to care for our horses.  I was so impressed with his dog that I determined to one day look at getting one of his puppies. I brought Miss Joy Bells home in early July of 2017 and true to her name she has been ringing my happy bells ever since. Her intelligence, sense of humor and devotion to me is a continuous source of pleasure. I anticipate many years of fur-bearing, joyful companionship together.