I’m not sure I even believe in angels—but in moments of extreme agony and despair, we search for comfort in creating our own saving graces. Mine happened to be my dog.

This is Waylon, the dog I looked to for spiritual answers in a state of delirious heartache.

I mean, he looks to be very angelic and spiritually knowledgeable, right?

But it was more than just his fluffy good looks that gave him his doggie divinity. Two days after I got Waylon, my best friend Anna passed away.

Waylon was a birthday present from my boyfriend, Scott. We drove all the way to a rural farm in Kentucky to pick up this 40-pound bundle of joy, a Sheepdog with white fluffy hair that flopped over his eyes. It was an incredibly exciting time, not just because I was now a proud puppy mom, but because my best friend Anna was moving back to Chicago from Arizona—finally, the whole gang would be back together again.

On a sunny Tuesday morning in August, just two days after we brought Waylon home, I got the call at work. It was Anna’s aunt, telling me Anna had suddenly passed away in her sleep the night before. No explanation, no reason. My lungs were vacuumed-sucked of air. My chest collapsed. I sunk into the concrete and stayed there until my coworker found me.

A few nights later, I laid in my bed alone, staring at the ceiling, surrounded by absolute darkness and silence.

I wandered around in memories we shared, plans we made for the future we would never get a chance to experience together. I imagined sinking deeply and slowly into my mattress, until finally it swallowed me whole. I wanted to cradle myself in that dark place, deep in the middle of the thick springs and foam, somehow separate from the world.

Suddenly, Waylon was at my face, sniffing and gently licking while wagging his little nub of a tail. In an instant, he brought me out of my dark, dream-like state and for a moment, I felt a twinge of happiness I hadn’t felt in days. I was so grateful for that moment—like it was a gift. Like there was a REASON that I had him here, to see me through this time. Dramatic? You bet. But it was real.

In that moment of gratitude, I looked at my dog through choked sobs and asked, “Waylon…are you an angel?”

Waylon stared at me and then, with great enthusiasm, lashed his head around to his backside and began to munch his butthole with vigor.

So, that was that. I was losing my fucking mind. What was I expecting, for him to sprout wings and heal my broken heart?

After I managed to pull his head out of his ass (literally), we settled into bed together again. He laid his head on the pillow near mine and let me hold him tight. He was no angel, but he was my loyal pal, and I desperately needed that too.

Today, if ever I’m feeling low, Waylon is the first to plop down on my lap and lean into me with his fat head (which I assume is his version of a hug). He’s probably not a furry, butt-munching guardian angel…

But then again, who can really say.