The following story about a little girl and a dog proves that pets have the power to heal even the most broken of hearts.
In times of grief and sadness, our animal companions become one of our greatest sources of comfort. Even though they can’t speak, their presence alone is enough to help us remain calm and hopeful, regardless of what’s going on in our lives.
That’s exactly what a Labrador named Blue did for 6-year-old Raelynn Nast.
Raelynn has always been a daddy’s girl, so when her dad, John David “Davey” Nast, Jr., succumbed to colon cancer on April 14 at just 41 years old, she was devastated.
“It was a cry that was pure heartbreak,” Lacey Nast, Raelynn’s mom, recalled of the moment her daughter heard the news.
The death of a parent is difficult for everyone, much more for a little child. But despite the circumstances, Raelynn chose to be as brave.
During her dad’s funeral at McConnell Funeral Home Chapel in Greenwood, Arkansas, the little girl volunteered to help greet mourners outside the home.
That’s when she spotted Emily Beineman, who was then jogging with her dog Blue.
Raelynn called out to Emily and asked, “May I pet your puppy?”
Emily agreed and said, “Of course! As long as your parents don’t mind!”
Raelynn did a shy little smile and answered, “Oh, my parents aren’t out here. My mom’s inside, and my daddy died. We are at his funeral.”
Before Emily could say a word, Blue walked up to Raelynn and sat down in front of her. The girl wrapped her arms around the dog’s neck and wouldn’t let go.
At this point, Raelynn’s friends and family were surrounding the trio. And when Emily looked around, she saw that there wasn’t a dry eye in sight—except for Raelynn’s.
What the girl had was a big bright smile, and it’s all because of Blue.
Overcome with emotion, Emily quickly dried her eyes and sat down next to Raelynn. She had been talking to her for a few minutes when the girl suddenly jumped up and said, “I want you to meet my daddy! Can you please come meet him?”
Emily was in no way dressed for the occasion, and she had just run for three miles. However, she understood that it was the girl’s last chance to introduce her dad to anyone, so she followed her into the funeral parlor.
According to Lacey, her daughter has always been “very proud” of her dad, always wanting to introduce him to everybody. So it’s no wonder she wanted to do the same even during his funeral.
“(Raelynn) showed me the beautiful bouquet of flowers that surrounded his casket and told me how pretty she thought everything looked,” Emily wrote in a Facebook post detailing their encounter.
“She then asked if me and Blue would stay for a few more minutes. She wanted to pet Blue a little more. So we did.”
Although it was the unlikeliest of circumstances, a new friendship was born.
With tears streaming down their faces, Raelynn’s aunt and uncle whispered to Emily: “I think God led you & Blue over here today for a reason… Blue’s love & gentleness that she has showed her has touched our hearts.”
Emily credits Blue for bringing Raelynn the comfort that she needed at the time. She’s always referred to her dog as a “gentle giant” who could sense when someone is sad or upset.
“(Blue) has this overwhelming calmness about her that is indescribable,” she said.
As for Raelynn, she’s thankful to Emily for helping lift her spirits that day.
“She helped me feel better by her kindness,” the girl said.
Raelynn and Emily met again recently and planned to stay friends. In fact, Lacey is arranging another playdate with Blue and her daughter.
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There’s nothing like the pain of losing a parent, but thanks to this dog’s healing power and a stranger’s kindness, Raelynn found another reason to smile again.
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