For all of you keeping up with our puppy search…I want to introduce you to our sweet little Belle. I wouldn’t be honest in saying that WE found HER because in actuality, she found us.
Just being truthful here – I am not by nature a “dog lover.” Gasp! Since I didn’t grow up with a dog, I have always been very skeptical of the barking, licking, and jumping that some of them do. My mom also reminded me of the time that a very large dog jumped on me as a child and knocked me completely off my feet. She said it scared the daylights out of me (and her, I’m sure) and I was always pretty fearful of dogs after that.
However, it’s quite interesting what our children will open our eyes and hearts to, isn’t it? My children have been asking for a family puppy for a couple of years now, so it was time to give it some real thought and discussion. It obviously wasn’t a passing phase that they’d forget about in a month or two when something new and better came along. The more and more I read about dogs, the more interested I got.
We visited the local adoption centers and I put my feelers out for the type of dog that would be a good family dog and an even better “first” dog for this cautious Mommy. For a period of time, dog talk and puppy research consumed me. I couldn’t believe it really. I mean, I had NEVER even walked down the pet aisle in a grocery store! This was going to be interesting.
Anyway, I finally got sort of fatigued from staring at all the puppies on the different adoption websites. I really didn’t know which one to pick or which one would like the country or which one was friendly with kids or what type of dog food to buy or what vaccinations they need or how to prevent fleas or…would I even be a good pet owner? Well, you get the picture.
Sometimes, I do that. I get slightly over-analytical (or many times, pathetically so) and cannot make heads or tails of the decision that I’m supposed to make. I kept thinking, “Am I really spending this much time on this? Who could help me make the best decision?”
The resounding answer was God. I know, I know – it seems like such a trivial thing to be bugging Him with, but, I go to Him in things both big and small. So, I prayed - “God, if you think our family would be a good match for a needy puppy out there, please send us one. If not, we will be content in knowing that now is not the time.” I was truly ready to stop worrying about it.
I kid you not – the next day, I received an e-mail from someone that I’d contacted about our puppy search. She said she knew of a man who needed to find a good home for seven puppies because there wasn’t room for all of them at the adoption center that week. She attached pictures to the e-mail and I was smitten. I knew immediately that one of them would find their home with us.
I contacted the man and he said he had three puppies left for us to choose from. Three of the puppies had been stolen out of his backyard and his children begged to keep one. The puppies’ mom was a stray that had been dropped off in his country neighborhood and the daddy was the neighborhood lab. The daddy was a big yellow lab named Horse, but was as tender as a teddy bear and played with all the kiddos in the neighborhood. (However, with a name like Horse, I guess Belle won’t be a purse dog – hee hee!)
When we saw the 7-week-old yellow lab mix puppies in the cardboard box in the back of his SUV, our hearts melted. How could we choose just one? I honestly just wanted to say, “We’ll take ‘em all.” But, practically, I knew that going from never having a dog to having three might have been too much.
But, only a few minutes into the meeting, the little pup lying in the back of the box caught our eye. She had a unique little white stripe down her face and sweet white paws to complement her yellow coat. Her innocent face said, “Pick me, pick me.” She wasn’t jumping up in our faces to demand our attention. She didn’t need to command our attention – she already had it. The bond began.
We brought her home, gave her a bath, played with her, loved her, and made her family. The kids named her Belle, and we affectionately call her “Bellie Belle” because a belly rub is what she loves the most. When we found out that Belle shares a birthday with my youngest daughter, we were sure it was meant to be. Thank you, Lord, for taking the time to answer a simple prayer. Note to self: If God hears the teeny tiniest of prayers, why wouldn’t He hear the big ones?
All the dog talk around our house lately has the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” running through my head. But, I wonder if we can teach our new dog old tricks? Hmmmmm. Here we’ve been given this opportunity to teach our Belle some wonderful lessons, um “tricks” about this magnificent world that we live in.
Just a few of the old, but timeless, tricks include lessons in patience, tolerance, encouragement, and love. If Belle can be patient with us as we learn about her and if we’ll be patient with her as she steals my husband’s socks...then we can grow together. If Belle can be tolerant of the cows mooing in the pasture and we can be tolerant of Belle’s poop in the yard...then we can grow together. If Belle can encourage us with her sweet eyes and happy-to-see-you tail wag and we can encourage her with belly rubs and a game of fetch...then we can grow together. If we can love Belle unconditionally and she can teach us that there is always room for more love in our hearts...then we can grow together.
Belle has already enabled our family to get a whole lot more vitamin D because of the time we spend outside with her. Belle has also taught me that mornings aren’t so bad after all. Watching her explore the great outdoors has reminded me of how much we sometimes take our beautifully detailed world for granted.
In my, uhem, research, I found that labs have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. That doesn’t seem like a very long time in comparison to how many years many of us can live. But, it made me think more about making every day count – with her and with my family. In Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love,” he states that “it’s easy to think about today as just another day. An average day where you go about life concerned with your to-do list, preoccupied by appointments, focused on family, thinking about your desires and needs.”
Chan challenges us to think about how we can get pretty caught up in ourselves on an average day. I know that on most days, I don’t remember to thank God for all of the things that are functioning properly in my body just in order for me to survive. For example, Chan says that the only people who really give much thought to their kidneys are those whose kidneys don’t work correctly.
Life can also be full of stress and worry. Chan reminds us of the command: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4) and how it ends in “always” and not “unless you’re doing something much more important.” There is another verse that deserves the same attention - “Do not be anxious about anything.” (Phil 4:6)
Chan provides a description of worry and stress that I hadn’t thought of before. He writes, “Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what is happening in our lives. Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.”
Why are we so quick to forget God? Who am I to think that the stuff in my life is somehow more important than His command to rejoice and not worry? Hmmmmm….