I have never been a big fan of dogs.
Maybe it is because I was babysat after school by a family that had a dog that terrified me. Kimba would bark ferociously every day as I walked by His backyard to the front of the house. It might not have helped, that everyone thought I should “get over my fear”, and casually assured me that he was a friendly dog. I just couldn’t see “friendly” in the way he interacted with me! In my mind’s eye, I can still see that white dog streaking along the fence defending his territory and barking a super bark that would make Bolt wince.
Over the years, I have made my peace with certain dogs (and cats). On the other hand, my oldest is a big fan of anything on 4 legs. She learned the phrase, “Can I pet your dog?” when she was 3 or 4 and uses her telescopic eyes to prey on neighbors who are trying to get around our block. Her younger sister quickly followed suit in asking the same question.
And then we met Rachel, the lady down the street who trains dogs for a living. Her dog Doolittle and my oldest bonded like cement. Doolittle loves the girls to the point of stopping at our house and craning his neck into our back yard to make sure he is not missing out. And Rachel became the movie star on the block who now has two families with young children looking out for her and ready to chase her shiny orange car at a moments notice.
Honestly, I thought this dog-love thing was a passing fancy… but it wasn’t. And when I became pregnant for the 3rd time, I stopped worrying about this whole animal fascination.
One day Rachel came over to tell us that she was becoming a “foster parent” to five puppies that needed good homes. “Would we like to come play and help her train them?”
“Yes, yes, yes!” we said. “We’d love to!” My 2 girls would get a chance to learn about dog training and safety and the puppies would be exposed to children in a safe environment. So we went whenever we had a chance and learned about the puppies.
After we miscarried our 3rd child, being around the puppies seemed to feel different than just a casual visit to a house with dogs. As Rachel tried to find good homes for the puppies, I inwardly cringed not wanting to see the day when Dove, the favorite left our neighborhood. The funny thing was though, that none of the owners seemed to “fit” with Dove. For one reason or another it didn’t seem to work out.
And then came the day, when I asked my firstborn what she wanted for her birthday. Hoping for an easy list, I was mildly surprised when she said she wanted a dog for her birthday, I laughed. “Good luck with that”, I thought. “You might as well ask for a dinosaur.” My husband and I painstakingly explained that an animal requires a lot of hard work and is not just a fun thing to pet every once in awhile.
A couple weeks later, I was having a difficult day. All day it rained in a steady downpour keeping us inside the house. In the middle of making dinner, there was a knock on the door. I didn’t pay much attention until my husband told me, “Honey we have company.” It was Rachel, with Dove. When I came around the corner from the kitchen, my girls were radiating joy like I had never before seen. They were loving Dove and laughing. I was taken aback.
Is this what love looks like?
Smiling, laughing, enjoying being together?
Did I fall in love with this beautiful brown and black dog when no one was looking?
Has the God of Love finally conquered my fear?
Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1: 9-11)
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