Willy Eagle's Christmas Miracle

Christmas is a time of miracles.  It is a time of discovery, caring, and a purity of joy that  no other time of the year seems to bring forth.   Bright lights, bright wrappings, ribbons, goodness, and giving.  Hopes, happy hearts, and joyful children make up this season.  Is it any wonder, that people tell stories of miracles both big and small occurring at this time
of the year.  Believe me, when I say that this story is true.  I didn't make it up, and even my sainted wife  (who does not believe in exaggeration) will attest to its veracity.   A miracle happened to us a number of years ago, and it happened close to Christmas time.

A few years earlier, my wife, my two children and I moved to the small town of St. Helens Oregon.  We moved there with our three geriatric cats, our tank of fish, a couple of Gerbils, a bird, and an old arthritic German Shepherd.  Animals don't live as long as people, and one by one, the animals all changed their plain of existence and passed on to animal heaven.  The fish died.  I am not sure what they died of, Fresh Water Ich, Scale Rot, bad water, or over feeding, but eventually they did perish.  Two of the cats died of old age (one was close to 20 years old), and the Gerbils were just not tough enough to survive age, the
kids, and above all the presence of cats.

The bird was a different story, my daughter gave him the name of Merlin.  Merlin was a bright blue Cockatiel of indeterminate age, and very high strung.  He would sit in his cage suspended from the ceiling and comment on all things around him.  Merlin was not known to be quiet.   The Cockatiel had a genuine fear of our black and white cat, he did not like the cat at all.   The cat, on the other hand, had a genuine fascination with all things avian, and this bird in particular.  The two things together did not make for happiness or contentment.   The cat would sit on a chair and stare at the bird with her hungry green eyes.  The cat spoke of patience, perseverance, bloodlust and terror.  The bird would screech at the cat and the cat would just lick its lips and quietly continue to stare.   She would stare at this tasty creature that she knew God created for her, and hope that at some moment in the future this creature would make a move, a mistake÷a tasty fatal mistake.

The cat never had the opportunity to eat Merlin. We found the bird lifeless, hanging upside down in its cage.  It's little avian heart stopped.   It's the belief, of both my wife and I, that the bird died of stress, a stress that only a rapacious black and white feline could create for it.

Where once our home was teeming with life, it now had only an empty fish tank, a surly ancient cat and an arthritic dog.  We loved this dog.  She was a pure bred German Shepherd named Lady Marta Von Franz  We called her "Marta".   Marta loved water and loved to fetch.  Marta may have been a German Shepherd but she had the soul of a Labrador.  Nothing would please her more than being squirted with water from a garden hose.  She loved playing with lawn sprinklers, and made watering the lawn for the water-er (if such a word exists) both a game and a challenge.    Fetching was also a part of her being.   She would chase a ball for hours.  The person throwing the ball would usually tire long before she did.   She was tireless in her pursuit of "ball".   At one time, she had a brief love affair with an Elk hound named Charley.  Charley got Marta in a "family way".  It was not exactly the match that we had envisioned for our pure bred, but she knew that she had our love and support.   Her pregnancy was normal enough, what was not "normal" was her post-partial reaction.  After ridding herself of the afterbirth she presented us with "Ball".   She wanted to chase "Ball".    She may have been weak, she may have been sore and tired, but that was in no way a reason for her not being able to chase "Ball", and chase it she did.

Marta could sit, stay, and heel.  She was able to swim rivers and climb ladders.  She could understand almost every word addressed to her (a feat even my children were unable or unwilling to master).  She was a loving part of our family. 

As with many of the larger breeds of dogs, Marta suffered from hip displacea.   She