The Greatest Christmas Gift…..

1 year, 7 months ago 21
Posted in: Uncategorized


O.K. to be clear, the birth of Christ is the greatest Gift the world has ever recieved, Period, end of sentence!  On a personal note, this Christmas I am getting something I have wanted for a long, long time!   Meet Chester, a two month old Golden Retriever!  I waited until I cut back my travel schedule until I had time to spend the first three months with a puppy and raise him right!!!  Actually it is more, him raising me, I guess!


Let me tell you the back story!  I’ve had dogs my entire life, but when Sherelene’s and my three chilcren grew up and left home, we both had very busy schedules and we simply didn’t have any more pets for a long time. When I started teaching with Jack Graham I had the pleasure of visiting him at his home, and meeting Linda and Roscoe!  Roscoe was his Golden Retriever, and they were best pals!  I really loved to visit Jack and Linda and get to sepnd time with Roscoe too.  I could throw him a frisbee until my arm was sore and he was still going strong!!  He was a real sweetheart and I think he really liked me too.  Little did I know that Golden’s love EVERYONE!  I guess I was not as great with dogs as I thought!


Well back in late fall Roscoe’s hips finally gave out on him and they had to have him put to sleep.  It was really hard on Jack and Linda, and honestly I was devastated too.  Sherelene could see how much it upset me and she said I think now is the time for you to get your puppy.


The search which started back in August was exhausting!  I never knew how many people were looking for American Golden puppies of the darker color and almost every one I found with puppies, they were all been spokent for.  I finally found a great breeder  and she had three females all do in a time frame that would get me a puppy by late Novemeber!  I was set!  Sadly weeks later all three females had false preganccies.  I have to admit I was in a panick.  Then I found a breeder with two males that were ready December 8th, perfect timing for me!  I was happy and made a deposit and picked a pup via internet images.  I know that sounds like a bad idea and it turned out to be.  For weeks I asked questions of the lady with the puppies and she was very reluctant to answer my texts and only sent and occasional image I started to worry about the whole situation.  When she revealed that the puppies would be going home at 6 weeks, it sent off alarm bells, that is pretty early to break up the pups and mom.  When I started to press for answers she blew up and started acting pretty freaky! I could see it was a bad idea, and was starting to realize a dream of getting Chester, (named years ago when I fell in love with the movie “The Kid!” )  Anyway it appeared it was not to happen. Jack and Linda contacted a friend of theirs who went to work looking for a pup and Jamie Baker, their friend a world class dog trainer, was still not having any luck finding a pup.


Here is where the real Christmas Story begins!  On a ride to Lexington Sherlene and I were talking and I was sharing my extreme disappointment with the failed search, spanning months. I said a prayer out loud in the car, “Father I know you love me and I feel silly praying about a puppy, but you know how much this means to me, I believe the “Real Chester ” is out there somewhere and I am not having much luck finding him, I’m turning it over to you, I trust you with this situation, please send me the puppy you want me to have!!”  I truly relaxed with it and let it go.  Some how I knew God was in control.


That night the original breeder called and asked if I had found a puppy and I told her sadly not.  She said she had a breeder friend that had a litter and she thought there were three males left,and they were to be ready by December 1st!!!  I called and she sent me images and this one below just struck me at how much I could see Roscoe’s face, in his!



So I picked him up on Saturday, and his official name is Chester Roscoe Fortney, and Jack and Linda are the God Parents!!  Below a few more images so you can share my joy!  Merry Christmas!


Chester and Sherelene



So that’s my Christmas story, a little long but it ended wonderfully for me!  It reminded me that God does care about even the small things in our lives and I”m home watching the snow fall and loving on Chester, a happy ending!!!!





the pilgrim



P.S.   Warning, more dog images are most likely coming your way!


Double P.S.  Since he moves faster than lightening, all these have been with the iPhone!!!



21 Responses

  1. Mike E says:

    My most sincere congratulations and best wishes for a very happy life for all three of you … the house is going to be a bit different for a while… some frustrating times (like when he chews up your favorite slippers ) but an overall very wonderful experience…..

  2. Peter D Packard says:

    Gene Hill said “If don’t think money can buy you happiness you never bought a puppy. Looks like you have a lot of happiness

  3. Ken Lutes says:

    He looks like a keeper Bill. Congratulations

  4. Rick Browne says:

    I am so happy for you! What a wonderful Christmas present. I remember you on the phone in the UP trying to track down a puppy. Glad this has worked out for you. Chester will keep you active, but it will be worth it. Merry Christmas to you, Sherlene, and Chester!

  5. Rick Coleman says:

    He’s Adorable!!! Merry Christmas.

  6. Charles Murray says:

    Bill, a home without a dog is just a house. Congratulations.

  7. Mike Roberts says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing lots more images. Enjoy!

  8. Congratulations Bill. Merry Christmas. Great story. My son got a female Golden Retriever a few months ago. They are a remarkable dog and I have had loads of fun photographing her. You will have a ball with Chester. Can’t wait to hear and see the story coming.


  9. Lance Lemke says:

    Bill so happy for your Christmas Blessing. I understands well with dogs being such a big part of my life. Blessing to you and the new addition!

  10. Rodney McKnight says:

    This blog made my week Bill!! Merry Christmas!

  11. Anita Levine says:

    Hello Bill,
    My husband reads your post all the time since he is both a photographer and a Christian. He forwarded your recent story “Are you Jesus,” which I absolutely loved. I recently wrote a book titled “When God Whispers to You,” which I feel is very similar to this story. There are so many times in our lives when we hear the voice of God on our soul, and when we follow that voice it brings us to a place that blesses not only someone else, but us as well.
    I also wanted to comment on your sweet dog. I am a lover of all of God’s animals, and an advocate of adopt don’t shop. I spend my days trying to find loving homes for all the sad little faces caged in shelters, never knowing the touch of loving hands, or a warm lap to nuzzle up to. I am so happy you have a loving pup, but I beg of you to consider a shelter pup next time. They are the best! Shelter dogs are always happy to have a loving home, and you will find they are obedient, and well behaved because they are just happy to be out of jail. I am just trying to make people aware that adoption is the perfect way to share God’s love and stop breeders from making more dogs. We have so many that they are killed by the hundreds daily just to make room for another one to put in jail. Thank you for sharing your stories and this message, please pass this to anyone you know that is desiring a new dog in their life. Thank you, God bless! Anita Levine.

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