Like many tales of epic parenting fails, this story begins with a bribe. I will spare you the gory details, but the bribe was to persuade my tenacious five-year-old daughter to allow us to extract two loose baby teeth. Weeks into the ordeal and still somewhat mysteriously to me, someone came up with the “Puppy Promise”. The ante became a dog.
Finally, she pulled the first tooth all by herself but the second was more stubborn. I have to confess that I really didn’t press her on the second one because of the “Puppy Promise” and truly hoped she’d forget. I know. Sometimes I surprise even myself at how naive I sound. So on the day that her kindergarten teacher texted the picture of the gaping bloody hole where the second tooth used to be, I had quite the mixed bag of emotions. I was thrilled about the tooth- finally, no more shark mouth- but I also was wondering how much time I had before the “Puppy Promise” had to be fulfilled.
The master negotiator in the Minnie Mouse booster seat made all kinds of demands in criteria for her new pet on our way to the SPCA, but I knew I still had time to take control of this situation. So I told her that we were going to adopt a dog, not buy one from the pet store. I also stated firmly that we would NOT be getting a puppy for me to housebreak and train, but would adopt an older dog with established manners and self-control.
“Bear” was in the very last kennel as we made our rounds at the SPCA that afternoon. He was beautiful and big with a shiny black coat and beautiful, soulful brown eyes and he sat at the gate and practically smiled at us as I read his vital information. On paper Bear could not have been more perfect. He was a predominately lab mix, housebroken and obedience trained with no health problems, great with kids and other dogs. Like I said, perfect on paper, right?
Well, what that paperwork fails to tell is that Bear is the most emotionally dependent, clingy, needy dog the good Lord ever made. He whines if we leave the room, he expects company on his potty breaks outside. He hates to be left alone. He doesn’t destroy or damage anything, but he cries. Like a baby. Sobs. Whines. Barks. His loyalty is amazingly constant and certain. And as I sit here typing and he is literally lying on my feet talking to me in that way that dogs bark/speak that sounds like they are trying to talk, I am reminded that Bear is a lot like God.
Bear’s faithfulness and loyalty to our family is amazing and was instantaneous. He was so thrilled to be adopted into our hearts and our home that he rewards us each day with his faithfulness and loyalty. And all he wants in return is our continued service and affection, and the occasional treat. Isn’t that what God expects from us too? He expects us to open our homes and our hearts to him, and in return the blessings are never ending. He is our constant companion, our “ever present help in times of trouble.” In Ephesians 1:4-6, Paul writes, “God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear son.”
Bear reminds me that just as our family adopted him into our home and hearts, so has our father in Heaven adopted us. Just as our family showed mercy to a dog at the pound, God shows us mercy every day in countless ways. Our adoption was set before time began, may we be reminded daily of this act of selfless grace and abundant mercy. Shouldn’t we reward Him with our faithful adoration and love? I think I know a big black dog who would agree.
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