By Elke Hughes, Canberra, Australia

Several animals have played an important role in my life. However, this tribute goes to my dog Alfa, a yellow boxer, who was my first teacher in matters of unconditional love.

I was five years old in postwar Germany. My parents and I lived among tall pines in a military zone which had restricted public access as war materials were being defused. Playmates my age were hard to find in my neighborhood, and the school was in a village about forty-five minutes away.

I remember vividly when my father returned one evening from his travels. I was already in bed when he placed the little yellow bundle with big, dark-brown eyes and a soft, square, black snout onto my blanket. Alfa had come into my life. It was love at first sight.

However, the plan had been that Alfa would accompany my father on his travels; she wasn’t really intended for me. Thankfully, Divine Spirit intervened on my behalf. Alfa got just as carsick as I did. So, to my great joy, the decision was made for Alfa to stay at home with me.

Alfa’s Constant Companionship

When I opened my eyes each morning, Alfa greeted me with her whirling little tail stump. It was as if she were saying, “At last, you are awake. Get up, and let’s not miss this beautiful day!”

During the months before I started attending school, we were inseparable. We would roam the surrounding forest together. I picked wild berries and, after rain, mushrooms. When we ventured further, to the meadows, I gathered flowers for my mother.

In summer when I rode my bicycle, she followed me like a shadow. In winter when I got the toboggan out and put the leash on it, Alfa would get hold of it with her teeth and pull me along the path.

Alfa’s Language of Love

This idyllic lifestyle had to change once I started school.

Every morning Alfa accompanied me to the edge of the woods, and then she returned home. Without fail, even if there was rain or snow, my best friend was waiting for me after school in the exact spot she had left me in the morning. We’d happily make our way home, enjoying the smell of the conifers.

Today, through having practiced the Eckankar teachings for some years, I am more aware of this Soul-to-Soul communication between God’s creatures, this special language of love. Alfa’s heart simply knew when to pick me up from school.

I am grateful for the sacred love bond between us. It was my first taste of divine, unconditional love.

—Photo provided by Elke Hughes