Dear Readers,

Welcome to the Book End.

The name of this column is going to be, “In praise of puppies.” I have had two of the roughest weeks of my life and I am alive because of my puppy Gangster.

Let me tell you this true story.

Three weeks ago I got viral pneumonia. I was extremely sick. I started passing out about four days after I got pneumonia. The doctor said that the passing out was probably due to the nature of the illness.

It was scary to all of a sudden faint, but germs nowadays are lethal.

I got over the pneumonia, but I was still passing out. Last Tuesday I passed out twice. The second incident scared me really bad

I was in the kitchen cooking dinner and the next thing I knew I was on the floor. I couldn’t understand what on earth could be wrong with me.

I got up off of the floor and went and laid down on my couch. I thought I would rest a few minutes to recover.

My boxer, Gangster, came and sat at my feet on the couch. As I’ve described him in previous columns, Gangster has a head the size of a basketball. His eyes are the size of quarters and are amber colored. Gangster was staring me directly in the eyes with an intensity. He is usually trying to get me to give him a snack, or he is trying to bite me.

He thinks trying to bite me is pretty funny. But he was sitting stock-still staring at me.

I am usually just as hyper as Gangster is, but I was too weak to move. I began to really pay attention to him, as he wanted me too.

He looked so sad. His eyes were mournful. I said, “it’s okay Gangster, I’m going to be alright. It was just a little spell”.

He wouldn’t cheer up, he kept staring at me in the eyes with his very sad expression. It was as if he were saying, “she is going to die and she is not going to listen to me.”

It came over me like a shock! I thought to myself, “something is dangerously wrong with my health, and somehow he perceives it!”

I got up and called a minister and his wife and told them I was still passing out. They insisted on coming and taking me to the hospital that very night.

At the ER they ran an EKG. The doctor came back and said, “your heartbeat is very erratic, we are going to need to check you in.” At eleven that night, the fainting spells started up again. I was given two shots for the heart, and a nitroglycerin patch.

Further testing showed that the reason I was fainting was because my heart was stopping for 30 seconds during each fainting spell. I would have died had I not gone to the ER.

Even now, just writing about this brings tears to my eyes. The whole thing was a huge shock. They transferred me to a Knoxville hospital by ambulance.

I nearly died there from my heart stopping. I had surgery performed on my heart by a brilliant cardiologist, which has saved my very life.

All of the testing showed that I have excellent health, and the cardiologists still cannot figure out how I had such a serious heart problem.

They all said I am too young for it. But somehow Gangster knew.

He insisted that I listen to him.

I am recovering now at my stepmother’s house. Gangster is staying with my uncle until I can go back home. I am hanging out with the family dog. His name is Ricco. He too seems to sense that I have been very sick. He follows me around the house to make sure I am safe. He climbs onto my lap and looks at me in the eye with a smile. He is telling me he will be around to cheer me up on my road to recovery.

So, this is why this column is called “In praise of puppies.”

Somehow they sense and perceive things that we ignore. They say they now have dogs that can diagnose cancer.

I believe it! It is amazing what they can do.

I am grateful for my life, and for Gangster and Ricco.

So until next time, have a good week, and have a literary week.