Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Sometimes, it's important to have a fun party and rejoice. Other times, one needs to take a moment to reflect and thank God for a life.

Twenty-seven years ago, around this date, a black ball of fur was born. The vet, rather than euthanizing the newborns, had made an agreement with the local pet store to sell unwanted puppies. Weeks later, when they were old enough, the pups were put on display at the pet store.

At this same time, I'd decided to take on the responsibility of owning a dog, for several reasons:

*I wanted to be a wife and mother, but I had no patience with babies. A crying baby triggered rage in less than a minute. I wanted to be a good mother, so I needed to learn to control my anger with a creature I couldn't control but loved. A dog was my solution, a baby step, so to speak.

*I wanted a walking companion.

*I've always wanted a dog.

I had no idea the innumerable lessons God had in store for me.

At the pet store, one evening, one particular puppy followed me as I walked around the enclosure. I dreamed about her and even named her in the dream. However, I was determined to make sure I found the exact right dog for me. I was going to visit the pound and the Humane Society. Besides, it had been a couple of days, so maybe the puppy was already adopted. I decided to check, just in case. I'd visit the pet store and then the other places. You can probably guess what happened.

The puppy was still there. I took her out and placed her on the ground. She came to me. I picked her up, set her on the ground a few feet away, and she came to me. I did it a third time. She came to me. I cuddled her, and yes, she snuggled up and stole my heart.

She taught me that anger frightened her. She would freeze, unwilling to move or respond in any way. I had to control my anger. As she grew older, she would hide when I was angry. I discovered the power of anger. I also discovered it could serve a purpose. I kept a number of unfriendly stray dogs away by directing that anger.

She also taught me about sulking and letting go. It was an unexpected lesson and took me a while to learn what she was trying to teach me. I would be angry over her disobedience. She would wait and then bring me a string bone to play tug-o-war. I discovered she also became mad at me. I would wait a little, and then offer her the string bone to play tug-o-war. Playing tug-o-war was our way of saying that everything was okay. It was okay to be mad, but we never waited too long to offer to play the game. She would also notice when someone else made me mad. Offering to play the game was her way of wanting to make sure everything was all right between us. Sort of a "you're not mad at me, are you?" No, my darling, I wasn't.

She taught me the value of caring for a pet as she aged. I washed soiled sheets at three in the morning and learned to use warm water to wash her off. I loved her all the more for caring for her through those final years.

She taught me about silliness.

She taught me the wonder of calming simply by stroking her soft ears, running my fingers through her thick fur.

She taught me about gentle touch.

She taught me the importance of being the pack leader, no mushiness, no wishy-washiness. The importance to her that I be in charge.

She taught me of her pricelessness in simply being herself.

My counselor once teased me that I shouldn't trust her so much because a piece of meat would distract her. I assured him that protecting me wasn't her job. He gaped. Her job was to be my early warning system. She'd let me know when anyone came home. She let me know if someone was at the door, as I often didn't hear the doorbell. She let me know if someone was walking down the hall. She let me know if someone was coming up behind us when we were out for a walk. It was her job to warn me and my job to protect both of us. I did my best.

She taught me to stop accepting belittling. I had no trouble correcting anyone if they insulted her or called her an unkind name.

She taught me about eating healthy. I was willing to take care of her while I neglected myself. I wasn't good at translating the care from her to me, but I understood I needed to learn to do it.

She was scary smart.

She made me laugh.

In a few months, it's been ten years since I sent her home. Not a choice I ever wanted to make. Seventeen was remarkably old for a dog her size. I'm grateful, every day, God allowed her to stay with me as long as she did.

I could have done better. Wish I'd done better. I was better at the end than I was at the beginning.

I still miss her desperately.

Sometimes, I pray to God and ask Him to tell her I love her and miss her and to throw a ball to her for me. She was mine, and I was hers. She was my daily living reminder that God loved me, my precious angel sent from God for me.

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