For the past few days, I’ve been talking with a friend who’s thinking about getting a dog. She is well aware that this is not a decision to take lightly. For me, it is hard not to push hard because I really want her to have a dog in her life.
As we’ve talked, I’ve thought back on the dogs I’ve had over the years. Thankfully, most were in my life for a very long time. All but Fred.
As I talked about Fred today I realized she’d taught me a lesson all those years ago. I am so surprised that I did not really appreciate that until today. While it is still fresh in my head, let me tell you the story of Fred and me.
I’d always wanted an Old English Sheepdog. This is not an easy breed to find nor are they inexpensive. After searching for months, Chuck, now ex-husband, and I finally found a puppy we felt would be a good companion for us and for our other dog, Honey, a feisty miniature Poodle. The moment I saw the puppy, I just knew her name had to be Fred. Why I named a female puppy Fred, I don’t know. I just felt it was the cute, funny, and perfect. Just like I felt she was!
Looking back, I think that little energized puppy was trying to tell me something. From the first time we called to her, she never responded well to that name. I was so dead set on that name, I did not think her reaction may have been her way of trying to show me or tell me something. Now, I think this was her first and her consistent attempt to tell me that something was not right.
As far as Honey was concerned, Fred was another thing to tolerate. From day one, Fred was much larger. She ran and played hard but she never pushed Honey around. There were a few times when Fred grabbed Honey’s ears. After a few hard yanks, Honey let her know who, in no uncertain terms just who really was in charge!
These were days when both Chuck and I worked long hours. I was working days while he was working nights. Because of this schedule, the dogs did not have to be alone very much. Training a puppy is not the easiest thing but we were making progress. After a few weeks, I began to notice a different pattern. When I’d get home from work, Fred could not make it outside before she’d have had an accident in the house. As time went on, the distance she made to the door became shorter and shorter. After another month or so, she’d stopped even trying to get to the door. Off to the vet for us where we were assured she was okay. We just needed to be patient.
That was not so easy for me. I was getting frustrated. After working all day and rushing home, we seemed to be going backward in the housetraining department. Fred seemed to sense my frustration. She would show some improvement for a day or two, only to start the pattern all over.
One one very cold, snowy night, I came home to a clean house. No accidents. I took both dogs outside and was thrilled. As if fixed dinner, I turned to see Fred squatting beside one of my large houseplants. I’m not proud to tell you, I started screaming at her. I ran and grabbed her face in both my hands and looked into her eyes. I asked, “Fred, why did you do that?” Her answer was quick and strong. She took both of her front paws and scratched her dew claws down both of my arms.
Our eye contact did not break. We both knew that this was not going to work. Chuck and I decided we needed to let Fred go. We placed an ad in the Sunday paper. Early that snowy Sunday morning our phone rang. The person calling told us he was calling for friends who were deaf. His friends saw our ad and wanted her, sight unseen. They would bring the cash that morning. When could they come get her?
Well…that was fast.
My whole being knew that what we were doing was the right thing to do. At the appointed time, there was a knock on the door. All four of us went to the door, my ex, me, Honey, and Fred. The couple at the door smiled as they handed us the money. As this was happening, Fred made her way to the door, stepped forward, and waited for them to hook up a leash. In a matter of seconds, all three of them were trudging away through the snow–no hesitation–no one looked back. As the snow fell harder, they simply disappeared.
What did Fred teach me?
She taught me that my idea of choosing a dog was all wrong. I’d always thought I chose my dogs. I now know–Fred taught me–they chose me. I believe that there is some other, higher level of communication between dogs and humans. Dogs are more aware of this than humans. I now believe think a dog knows the minute they see us whether or not we are the human for them.
I understand now more than ever how important it is to think hard before you begin to search for a dog. Are you really aware of the level of responsibility you take on when you bring a dog into your life? A dog brings it all to this game called life. You must be ready to give your all to them as well. It’s part of the deal.
Oh…if we could all love each other like our dogs love us. Heaven must be like that…
Speaking of love, please focus your prayers on California. How is it possible that each week I ask for prayers for so many different disasters. Our world feels like it’s spinning faster and faster into some unknown dimension. If there was ever a time when we need each other, it is now.
Love and peace, Y’all.