October 21st, 2010
09:56 AM ET

Man saved by God, and by dog who says grace

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

The video was meant to simply make some Facebook friends, and his mother in particular, smile.

Steven Boyd, 39, had taught his dog Djaingo how to "say grace," and one late September morning, camera in hand, he coaxed the sleepy pup out to the living room and into prayer.

Front paws on Boyd's thigh, head bowed, man and dog offered up these words:

Thank you for allowing us to be the man and puppy you've allowed us to be. Father, thank you for our friends and family, their prayers and support and energy that they give us… Father, I do ask a special prayer that you help me to not chase the neighbor's cat and to listen to my master whenever he asks me to do anything.

What began as a post on Boyd's Facebook page was passed on and shared. It's popped up all over YouTube, appeared on numerous other sites, and it even got play on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

But the story behind Djaingo the praying dog is deeper than it is cute.

Boyd found his way to the dog just when they needed each other most.

The man was sick - had been for more than a year and a half - when he strolled into an animal shelter looking for a temporary escape. It was September 10, 2003, the day before the second anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the memories of that day weighed heavily on him.

For 12 years, Boyd says, he served in the U.S. Army. He says he was, among other things, a sniper, a paratrooper and, subsequently, a counter narcotics operator. He'd been fearless professionally and personally. He'd jumped out of planes, rappelled down cliffs and mountain biked his way across dangerous terrains.

Now, though, he was losing everything. The hospitalizations kept happening. His career was shot. The relationship with the woman he thought he'd marry had ended. The medical questions loomed large. He was dying.

At the pound that day, he simply offered to walk some dogs. He had no plan to adopt an animal. But then, three hours into his visit, his eyes and the dog's locked. He knew, in that instant, they were meant to be together.

The only problem was the dog was already scheduled to die. It was set to be euthanized the following morning. It was too aggressive and could not be trained, the shelter workers insisted. Boyd didn't care.

He begged. He pleaded. And $75 later, the best investment he says he ever made, the duo went home.

The former military man, who lives in Austin, Texas, put that pup through its own boot camp. The dog began to trust his owner, show affection and within six months he'd been transformed. He was happy, loving, sweet.

"He saved my life as much as I saved his," Boyd says.

Along the way, the Australian Cattle Dog was given a proper name - rather than his given name, "Chip." His owner thought back to the time when he'd done some training with the 3rd Royal Australian Airborne. The men had taught him the term "djaingo" – to "go djaingo," Boyd explains, means to go out, get drunk and rowdy, pick up women and have bar fights. And so that tough little dog was named.

Since he first was hospitalized on February 19, 2002, Boyd has struggled. Because of multiple traumatic brain injuries - sustained through military exercises, a car wreck, a rappelling accident and a grenade detonation - he says he suffers from gastroparesis, a paralysis of the gastrointestinal tract. It makes eating and drinking a form of "Russian roulette," he says. It can cause food to sit in his stomach and rot. He has starved himself, unintentionally. For days on end, he can vomit 10 to 15 times an hour. He's broken ribs in the process.

As a result of this illness and repeated, extensive dehydration, he says his weight - 175 when healthy - has dropped to as low as 98 pounds.

By his side, in sickness and in health, has been Djaingo. Boyd's parents live three hours away, and his mother, Cheryl, says she takes solace knowing the dog is there.

He sticks by her son and keeps watch. When Boyd is too sick to take the dog out, he can leave the apartment door open. The dog will run outside on his own "to do his business," she says, and then guard the open door. If her son is in need of medical attention, the dog will alert neighbors.

Having Djaingo has been source of comfort to Boyd. But there was one time when the animal just wasn't enough.

After several days of vomiting four years ago, he thought he'd end it all. He'd had a friend who years ago had committed suicide by drinking Clorox, and from the bathtub's floor, where he was curled up, Boyd eyed the nearby bleach bottle. With the cap off, he prepared to drink.

"I heard it as distinctive as I hear your voice right now," Boyd, his own voice shaking, says by phone to CNN. "I heard, 'Don’t do this.' It was my father God, and I broke down. I get teary-eyed now talking about it."

He'd grown up in a Christian home, "a proverbial 'Leave It to Beaver' family," he says. His dad had been the deacon of their church. His mother is a Sunday school and Bible study teacher. And though Boyd always considered himself Christian, up until that moment he realized he'd been living the Christian life, as an adult, on his own terms.

The debilitating illness that can leave him homebound much of the time, the loss of everything, had in fact saved him, he says.

"It changed everything. I truly feel as if it was God using a 2-by-4, smacking me in the head and telling me to wake up," says Boyd, who described himself as "callous" after his years in the military. "It's softened my heart in so many ways. It's made me realize the things you take for granted in life are sometimes the most important things in life."

He got involved in church. He attends Bible studies when he's able. And as last year's Christmas gift to his mother, who describes herself as a "prayer warrior," he taught Djaingo how to say grace.

"He's a disabled veteran on a very limited income," his mom says. So in lieu of buying each other gifts, she told her son last year that instead they'd "do something, write something or make something" for one another.

What her son and Djaingo did for her touched her heart, she says. And, with the release of the recent video, she's not alone in receiving this gift.

The response has overwhelmed Boyd. He's received more than 5,000 messages from around the globe - including Australia, Russia, Thailand. The friend requests on Facebook have poured in by the hundreds. Djaingo, now with his own Facebook page, is racking up new friends, too.

Boyd has gotten marriage proposals. A grandmother who is going through chemotherapy and lives alone says she watches the video every morning to help her face a new day. A mother whose son has lost faith is hoping that by teaching the dog to pray, her son will feel the connection again, too. Pastors are using the video in sermons.

And all of this, including what it's done for her son, Boyd's mother says, is proof of "God's hand" at work.

"Steven told us he was so lonely. So much of the time, he's apartment-bound. Now he's getting emails from all over the world," she says. "It's given Steven such a boost to his morale. God can take the tiniest thing and use it for good."

Every evening, Boyd and Djaingo say grace together. It's not that the man believes the roly-poly dog, who's been mistaken for a pig before, is actually praying. He knows his faithful pet is just doing what he's told so he can get his dinner.

"But it's an affirmation of my faith to have my dog be able to participate," Boyd says. "Who would have thought God would use my fat dog to spread His glory?"

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Christianity • Faith • Prayer • Technology

soundoff (603 Responses)
  1. Mieke

    Wonderful to read and see!

    October 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Alice

    What a sweet video. Dogs are awesome. <3

    October 21, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  3. Catie

    My daughter has Gastroparesis and it is truly a miracle she is so strong. She is sick every single day, to varying degrees.
    Steven, she became a vegetarian and takes antibiotics and nexium. It has literally changed her life. I pray you are reading these entries.
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    God bless you<

    October 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • ybs

      I bless you all!

      Unbeknownst to you, I'm omnipotent (just like your god). In fact, I'm your god, and I exist.

      Start worshiping me!


      October 31, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  4. BC2000

    It is so heartbreaking to see people speaking about God, that has no relationship with him. It would be like me speaking negative things about you, when I don't know you!
    Joe G.....you believe taking medicine when you get sick is defying God's plan. In fact it is God that allows doctors to have the power to help you get well by prescribing those medicines.
    Please don't criticize my God, whom some of you obviously have no relationship with. I hope and pray that you will find him one day as only he will save you!

    October 21, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • ACA

      You say "Please don't criticize my God, whom some of you obviously have no relationship with. I hope and pray that you will find him one day as only he will save you!"
      Apparently out of the thousands of gods that people believe in around the globe, only YOUR god can save a person...I promise not to criticize "your" god if you stop criticizing/undermining all other gods!

      October 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • You are a Hypocrit

      "It is so heartbreaking to see people speaking about God, that has no relationship with him. It would be like me speaking negative things about you, when I don't know you!"

      You just contradicted yourself in your opening statement.

      That's a large mass of fail you have vomited on the net.

      October 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said, "In fact it is God that allows doctors to have the power to help you get well by prescribing those medicines."

      If your statement is true, why did In the 18th century alone, 400,000 Europeans die each year of small pox? in the 20th century, the WHO (World Health Organization) estimated about 300-500 million deaths resulted from small pox. The disease first appeared and started killing people in about 10,000 BCE. Thats a lot of death and suffering.

      What took god so long to "allow" doctors to give inoculations against this disease? Why did god not "allow" doctors to eradicate small pox until 1979.

      Why, doesn't god "allow" doctors to eradicate all disease? So far only two infectious diseases Small Pox and Rinderpest have been eradicated.

      I think this would indicate that god has nothing to do with medicine.

      Your theory is a bust.

      Happy Trails!

      October 22, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  5. Alberta

    Dog = God

    October 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • jay

      your grasp of algebra is tenuous at best

      October 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      October 21, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
    • ybs

      Dog = goD

      is a more balanced transformation.

      It's kinda like applying a special transformation to make the few thousand years old universe more a reality! 🙂


      October 31, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  6. Saddie

    I believe dogs are angels sent by God to take care us. Dogs love us unconditionally, teach us patience, stay with us when we are sick and feel our emotions, ups and downs. They teach us so much and are always happy to see us, never judge us and always want to be with us.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • cbozey


      October 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  7. Dr. Feelgood

    It amazes and saddens me at the amount of cynical, miserable people in this country. Take the "feel good" story for what it is and quit dissecting the hell out of it.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • Nikki

      I couldnt agree more 🙂

      October 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  8. cherjb

    to reader...you are INCREDIBLY OPINIONATED AND RUDE! If you can't make an intelligent comment, might be best to keep quiet!

    October 21, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  9. kenberthiaume

    I don't believe in God at all but it is still a moving story. He does and his dog "helps" him, the same way dogs help many people. By being a companion and "friend".

    He doesn't believe the dog is really praying, it's just a joke.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  10. Paige

    To all you people who claim you don't believe in God – has it ever occurred to you that you just might be wrong? Have you ever been wrong in your life? Are you absolutely convinced you know everything? If you are wrong, and there is a God, don't you want to be a part of His Eternal Kingdom?

    You can know His love and have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is an open invitation to all. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

    I'm praying for you to trust in someone greater than yourselves.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Phil McCrackin

      Now that you bring it up, I have only been wrong once in my life. It was a time that I thought I was wrong and admitted it. But, it turns out that I wasn't.

      If your god loves you and the world so much, why does he 1) treat everyone as a sinner because of Adam and Eve ? 2) Keep everything a big mystery rather than show himself ?

      Rather narcissistic isn't it ?

      Talk about holding a misdirected grudge too long.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • MJ

      But that's not what the Koran and the Torah say...damn, what to believe in....so many choices...which fairy tale do I like better?...

      October 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      Has it occured to you that your interpretation of god might be wrong? God is not always admirable. He kills many people in the bible. fail to see how babies are evil and deserving of death and yet, it seems that god wants those people to die. these aren't the actions of a kind and loving god.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
    • No Paige No

      I don't really care what you or anyone's opinion is, but cannot you fathom not everyone believes in a comic book "written" by illiterate goat herders who spent most of their time ALONE in the desert?

      It is fine for you to believe one way or another and you will fight tooth and nail for that right, but then you try and force your dogma down others' throats.

      What you are doing is in no way different than what some of these rather aggressive non-Gods are doing.

      Cant you see this?

      October 21, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
    • No Paige No

      And I have an ACD. They are among the smartest dogs around and can be taught almost anything (not involving thumbs).

      Some people cannot.

      October 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
  11. Hater of Hate

    I'm not religious. I believe in science and logic. I am, however, appalled at other Agnostic/Atheists who seem to revel in destroying other's source of hope and comfort for nothing more than their own false sense of superiority. Ask yourself, what type of person goes out of their way to make someone, that you have no interest in, doubt themselves and their faith. Save your replies about religion being the cause of all strife, it has nothing to do with this story. Anything, tangible or intangible, which gives someone peace and hope and encourages them to become a better person is not a bad thing. Go kick a puppy or something.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Mel

      I think you hit the nail on the head. Why can't people, regardless of their beliefs, just be happy that this guy found something that makes him want to continue living, even in the face of such adversity. Good for him and bravo to all of the other positive people out there, whether Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or Atheist.

      October 21, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • Steve

      Hey David Johnson, take example from this person right here (Hater of Hate). That's how easy it is to be a non-believer and still have a heart, to be a good person, to admonish people like you that spread hate just to make yourself feel better. I, too, am science minded, but at the same time, believe in a higher power because I think even science shows where it's possible. I like you Hater of Hate. We may vary somewhat on randomness vs intelligent design, but it doesn't matter, you are still good and it's people like you that restore my faith in people after I see such hate from the likes of DJ up there. Thanks for speaking up and setting the right example.

      October 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Linda

      I know. Very disturbing. I am a hard core atheist. But I am not going to kick the source of someone's inspiration– we are not talking about a terrorist here, we are talking about the source of someone's inspiration to fight a disease. There is something wrong with that, very wrong.

      October 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • Roz

      What you said!

      October 23, 2010 at 3:03 am |
  12. Pam

    I love this! Thanks to Steven B. for sharing this with the world. I truly believe in the power of animals to heal the heart and soul, and can tell Djaingo has done this for Steven. What a sweet dog. God bless! 🙂

    October 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  13. Peggy

    What a beautiful, moving story. I have seen the video several times. And it's wonderful to read the story behind the dog. God bless you Steven. I hope things get better for you. You have no idea the joy you brought into my life by posting that video. Thank you so much. You both are a blessing to the world. Hugs.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  14. CUTE

    i don't believe in god. but i do believe in the power of friendship and love a relationship can give a person when they are sick or down. animals are amazing companions

    October 21, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • Magic


      Yes, the human-animal connection can be very moving and powerful....no god is necessary in the process. They demean the relationship by attaching supernatural strings to it. I'll take a cute puppy and those warm feelings over the phony baby Jesus any day.

      "Religion poisons everything" - Christopher Hitchens

      October 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • jay

      @magic. you can't use the word "phony" and expect anyone to take you seriously. c'mon now.

      October 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  15. Ryan

    I really wish cnn.com would stop with the cutesy "God saved me" stories. It's always the same old hokey yarn, and it seems like cnn.com would rather run fluff stories like this every month instead of running stories about how people have changed their own lives through...wait for it...making positive choices, changing their thoughts, and taking responsibility for themselves. There are people every day who make choices and change their life for the better...all by themselves. Now that's human strength.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mark

      Ryan, if the stories offend you then why do you read them? And to the Christian-bashers, if you think belief in God is all a bunch of garbage why are you expending so much of your time trying to convince us that we're wrong or proclaiming our stupidity and gullibility? What are you getting out of it, some sense of moral superiority? You're proselytizing more than a whole tour bus of Jehova's Witnesses on a sunny summer's day! If you don't like something, don't immerse yourself in it.

      October 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I love these kinds of stories. It demonstrates just how out of touch with reality, the fundies really are.

      I love me some the fundies!

      October 21, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  16. Joe G

    A serious issue- If you're religious, why take medicine when you get sick? It seems overwhelmingly obvious that you are defying God's plan. Plus, don't you want to go to heaven?

    Christians are pure hypocrites. Brainwashing should be illegal.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
    • Juanito

      Joe G, please don't take this in the wrong way, but rather out of love of hard questions.
      Do you truly understand God's plan for another's life? Or even your own?
      Do you believe God is meant to 'handle it all' for believers, or are we to collaborate with His efforts in our lives?
      As for Christians wanting to go to Heaven: would you agree that even non-believers would perfer to go to Heaven after they die? Or do you think they'd want to go to any other alternative?
      As for taking meds when a Christian is sick: most people prefer to sleep in a bed than on the floor. Would the journey to your destination be a little more comfortable and enjoyable with a snack or two along the way, a bathroom break once in a while, and maybe just stopping to take a look around? Christians like comfort, too.
      Life is a journey, and what we do can either illuminate God's glory and promise to us, or illuminate our own.
      It's always our choice.

      October 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
    • Phil McCrackin


      I really really hate it when I hear comments like yours "God's plan for so and so...."

      What was god's plan for the 23 month old toddler that was recent r@ped by 3 boys ( James Prindle , Noah Scheulin, Micah Scheulin ) ?

      Why did god want that poor little baby to be r@ped ?

      October 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Phil McCrackin

      I really really hate it when I hear comments like yours "God's plan for so and so...."

      What was god's plan for the 23 month old toddler that was recent r@ped by 3 boys ( James Prindle , Noah Scheulin, Micah Scheulin ) ?

      Why did god want that poor little baby to be r@ped ?

      Your story touched my heart. It was this sort of thing that started me down the road to atheism. You wonder why god could not have saved this child and a hundred other children. No big flashy miracle. Just maybe a cop that noticed something odd, a parent coming home early. Something... Instead – Nothing.

      There is no god. Of this I am sure.

      October 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • DaveR

      @ David Johnson

      Actually David, after reading your comments. You know there is a God...of this much I am sure.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • Muneef

      Taking medicine is only means but.the recovery is from God. So if you have time you will recover but if not having time nothing would work to keep you lively alive and not dead alive.?

      October 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
  17. Marky Mark

    This is a good story, mom would probably like it.....

    October 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  18. Juanito

    Bobbbb, accept this out of love:
    God saves everyone who repents and accepts His Son as their savior. He's not selective: we are. We all have access to the handbook to get through this life(otherwise known as the Bible), and like a computer, if we don't follow the Jesus' instructions, we don't get access. The good news is that if you don't understand the instruction manual(Bible), we can call customer service(a local pastor, or friend who's a believer) and get help, or guidance.
    I can't speak for anyone else, but I never did. Being an intellectual agnostic, I believed I didn't have enough information to make a decision on whether I believed or not. However, the best analogy is like my understanding of gravity: regardless if I truly understood how it actually worked, I was still subject to it's laws, even if I disagreed with it.
    And I wondered why my life had little peace.
    So I dialed up the connection simply by asking God directly, and that very day, His response came, and I saw the difference, and I've seen it happen everyday. And I'm so thankful for it.
    May God bless you and everyone else here, and may you all find peace through His loving grace.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Joe G

      So you got brainwashed one day? Too bad. You would be a lot cooler if you weren't.

      October 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Ana

      wow...you don't understand gravity or you don't agree with it?

      October 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  19. Joe

    Love how the non-religious use stories like this to take swipes at "gullible" Christians. Same people who if endured a fraction of what this guy has been through would have definitely drank the bleach...and this world would be a much happier place. Awesome story.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
    • lia

      i think that this video is so awesome because my brother has been thru alot and no one understands what he goes thru on a daily basis and it is sad that so many people on here say so much negative and hateful things and yes this video is such an inspiration for me because he is my brother and i love him

      October 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  20. Stephen

    People going through difficult times emotionally or otherwise often find refuge in religion, which is kind of sad. But the concept of a praying dog smacks of desperation. I hope things work out for him and he leaves this stuff behind!

    October 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.