He cried the whole way home, a high pitched plaintive wail emanating from the back of the SUV. He cried for two hours, it was horrible. What kind of monster rips a baby from his mother’s arms? It wasn’t what I was expecting from the experience, though I should have anticipated it. Never having had a puppy, I was ignorant to a plethora of new “adventures” I’d have as a puppy owner.
We had always had outside dogs at my dad’s, Isabel, Ariel, Hog, at least two of which we loved and adored. Hog was not at all the hunting dog my father had hoped to bring along on his trips – he was afraid of rabbits. Poor Hog was so fat that he had to dig a belly sized hole in the lawn so he could lie down. The only hunting that dog did was garbage hunting. My father had to give Hog back to the friend he bought him from because Hog had gotten loose and eaten his way through the neighbors’ garbage cans one too many times. Ariel lived to be about 24 years old; she was a pound rescue we had gotten when she was five. She looked very much like a grizzly and was always getting into the farmer’s land next door. She would steal chickens, catch road runners and even the occasional dear which she dragged up the 300 some odd foot driveway to Pop’s place in the woods. We had gone to the pound to get her after having the traumatic experience of losing Isabel. Someone had shot her for the heck of it. She had been there for as long as I could remember.
We got all of those dogs as adults. My mother also allowed me to have a dog though she was not a fan of them at all. She wasn’t afraid of them; she just harbored a deep resentment for them from her youth. He father had owned racing dogs, and she used to say the dogs ate better than the kids. Even still, she allowed me to get a small dog when I was 12 and when I went off to college and beyond she ended up taking care of old Blinky. She doted on him, carrying him down the stairs to go outside when he was old and blind, cooking rice and chopped meat for him when the dog food was too hard to eat. He lived to be about 16 years old.
My husband was not a believer of having animals in the house, so for a long time, a dog was out of the question. After my mother died, my children and I were reeling from the loss for a while. I thought a dog might help my seven-year-old cope a little better and since he often complained about being outnumbered by girls, we decided to get “another boy.” Since the kids were small, I went through a breeder because I wanted a lab. It was a covert operation getting the dog into the house against my husband’s wishes. We badgered him about getting a dog daily for months until finally, in a moment of weakness, he said in complete exasperation, “Fine!” The breeder was contacted, the crate, bowls, leash, and collar were bought, and, much to his chagrin, the puppy was in the house less than 36 hours later.
In the beginning, he was my baby, glued to my chest as he slept so I could get him outside before he peed in the apartment. Later, he was the kids’ dog, sharing their beds, sometimes, them sharing his. He went camping with us, swimming with us, played with us in the yard. The kids and I loved him like a member of the family. My husband tolerated him for a while, but imperceptibly, Chewy’s cuteness, adoration, devotedness to his every move began to wear him down. Nine years in, Chewy and Daddy are devoted to each other. Chewy “talks” to him, The translation is proclaimed throughout the house, and whatever Chewy had “said” he needed is quickly procured.
Devotion – It’s hard to match a dog in devotion. Dogs love you when you’re angry. They nuzzle you when you’re sad. Dogs can tell if your ill or upset. No matter what time you come home, they are happy to see you. They are never too proud to seek forgiveness. If any of us are stressed out, Chewy will get up from wherever he is and put a paw on our legs, or swat our arms until we pet him to calm down. He’s always down for hugs. If we hug each other or one of the kids, we have only a matter of seconds before Chewy will be right there to wiggle himself in between the two huggers. Laughter is another magnet that draws him. Chewy bounds into the room, bowl in mouth, wanting to know what’s going on, and if everyone is so happy why we aren’t feeding him!
What if I were as devoted to God as Chewy is to me? What if, as it says in Romans 12:11, I was wholly devoted to serving the Lord? “Never be lazy in showing such devotion. Be on fire with the Spirit. Serve the Lord.” I know what He commands. He tells us in Jeremiah 2:2, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the LORD says: “‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.” So why is my dog more devoted than I am? Why do I find it so difficult to follow God wherever He leads? Perhaps the answer lies not only in the devotion of the dog but in its absolute, unwavering trust. Chewy knows we will care for him no matter what. He knows that if he is sick or hurt, we will make him well. He lays on his back in the most vulnerable positions because he is 100 percent confident that we will protect him. He comes to us in need less often than he does to show us adoration. He waits patiently by our feet for direction and hangs on our every word even when he doesn’t know what they mean. I guess I need to be more like my dog -having absolute trust and totally devoted.