The Value of Having a Live-In Editor


I try to write an article every other week for Spirit of Abilene. I usually write reflective essays, but over the weekend I wrote something new. Rather than an essay, I wrote a lengthy list of questions regarding many subjects that interest me. After each question, I wrote a short response expressing my own opinions and thoughts about the question.

I always send a draft of my pieces to my husband Mike for his opinion on the article. I do that because he can point out nuances in my tone that might offend someone. On this particular draft, he pointed out that the listing format was choppy and lacking a clear point.

After looking back over my list of questions and comments, I agreed with him. I had written about topics from the moon and back. I decided that writing about one or two topics with elaboration would convey my thoughts better.

Several of my questions relate to people’s attitudes and behaviors toward the world around them. The first question on my list relates to cruelty to animals. Ever since Mike and I adopted Gracie, our little rescue dog, I have observed many interesting aspects of the behavior she exhibits as a result of the abuse she suffered before the Humane Society took her from her first home.


I know that Gracie and several other dogs removed at the same time had heartworms. Obviously, well-cared for dogs will not have heart worms. Though Gracie’s and her brother’s conditions were treatable, their mother’s condition was terminal. A very loving woman adopted the mother so she could die comfortably with her nurturing. 

We knew the gravity of heart worm disease, but we happily nursed Gracie through her treatments as she has become physically healthy. Her morning routine includes a potty trip to the back yard and a catch-me-if-you-can game with me.

Although she rarely makes sounds, she does make little excited yips as she teases me with a chase. She puts her front paws out on the grass as she lifts her hindquarters and then “dares” me to grab her. She loves running around the yard’s perimeter before coming to me, rolling on her back, and sticking up all four legs, showing her “take me inside, Mom” position.

All the dogs in Gracie’s first home lived outside throughout the year, did not have proper food, and most likely suffered emotional and physical abuse. Gracie attached herself to me immediately when she came into our home. Her fear of Mike hints that her former abuser was a male. Mike works hard to gain her trust by giving her treats for good behavior and petting her when she sits in my lap.

As I observe her fear and hesitation, I can only imagine how she must have suffered in her former life. My heart breaks to see her shrink from a touch or run from an unfamiliar object. She doesn’t know how to play with toys because she never had any.

Mike and I adopted her knowing she would not respond like a puppy for us to raise. Neither does she behave as a rehomed dog who came from a loving environment. We look at Gracie as a true rescue who craves love and care. We hope to see her make progress in the days ahead. 

The Humane Society can share sad stories about the dogs and cats in their care. Recently, the workers retrieved a little dog someone threw from a car window into the parking lot. The landing fractured the dog’s skull, but he survived after receiving necessary medical treatment.

Some owners relinquish their pets simply because they did not understand the responsibility required of a good pet owner. One of my neighbors adopted a precious little dog named Buddy. Animal control had picked up Buddy running loose one day, but they identified him by a tag on his collar. 

The folks at the shelter contacted the owner who said he would come pick Buddy up in a day or two, but when he didn’t show up, the shelter called him again. The owner told the caller he had decided he really didn’t want Buddy anymore so the shelter could adopt him out.

My friends absolutely love Buddy. Buddy’s first owner had not abused or mistreated him, so he is emotionally and physically healthy. My friends have expressed dismay that some people can simply discard something as precious as a living being.

Criminalists report that many serial killers begin their sadistic careers by torturing domestic animals. God created animals as living creatures who have an important place in our world. Whether a person enjoys hurting a dog or cat or cruelly kills an elephant for its tusks, that kind of cruelty appalls me. 

After writing this piece, I now appreciate my editor-husband’s critique about the draft I sent him. I hope my other questions will provide as much fodder for future articles as this one did.

Nancy Patrick is a retired teacher who lives in Abilene and enjoys writing


  • This was a story close to my heart, too!
    I hope that some day dogs will not be allowed to be chained!

    I have a stray kitty that has become my special girl!…. My cuddle bug and she had made all the difference to me in the world!
    Life is not lonely anymore!


  • Sandra Tompkins

    Oh Nancy! I love this article! I too have discovered how cruel some people can be when it comes to the animals that they have and decide they don’t want or just toss them out a car window or just leave them in a parking lot. We have that happen all the time and most of the ones that I have cared for have been in those type of situations. Most of mine though have been where either someone left him at the shelter or in Walmart parking lots. You never know what these little ones go through but it is so rewarding to take care of them and show them what love can feel like. I really enjoy fostering and I will do it as long as the Lord allows me to. Keep up the writing. I love you and hope to see you sometime in the near future. I hate that we live so far apart


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