It was 365 days ago that we had to put our beloved 14-year-old rescued Australian Shepherd, Jack, to sleep. I don’t think I will ever get over it. He was simply a canine angel. Jack was sick for about a year. We tried everything to stop the inevitable. But we would not let him suffer when his quality of life became the issue.

Making the decision to end Jack’s life was one of the most gut-wrenching decisions we have ever had to make. My husband and I adopted this beautiful, gentle, wise canine spirit from our local animal shelter when he was just a 1-year-old wonder. It was our first dog, and if there is such a thing as a perfect dog, Jack was it. In every way. From the first day we took him home.

Pure doggy perfection.

Jack needed some time and training to recover from his less-than-ideal puppyhood home. But once he did, he became a certified therapy dog and provided more than a decade of emotional support to Michigan elementary students and frazzled students at Michigan State University during midterms and final’s week.

He was pure canine magic.

So, for this Sunday Spirit blog, when my goal is to share moments of faith that have little to do with organized religion and may resonate more easily with others lacking in regular faith practices, this is what I’ve learned.

Moments of God’s grace come to us in the most unexpected ways and times. Such was the gift of Jack. He entered our lives when we were still reeling from the death of our son unexpectedly at age 12. Jack restored our souls and helped me find new purpose in serving children. He brought me back to life and laughter and purpose. I can never thank him enough.

We saved each other.

If that isn’t God like and full of grace, I don’t what is.

Today, I will plant a special flower in my garden in Jack’s honor, and I will share prayers of thanksgiving for all the years I got to call him mine.

And he called me his.

We were both blessed beyond measure.

I will love you forever, Jack.

Best dog, ever.

I’ll see you again one day, old friend. That much I believe.

Faith restored.