I just love nature and animals, and over the course of my life I have had birds, cats, dogs, and fishes. In fact, not having animals in my experience would seem almost unnatural.
After much contemplation and family discussion, we decided unanimously that it was time to bring home another dog. We already had two toy-sized pooches, yet we still felt there was room for another.
After much research and combing through photos, I thought one little guy stood out. I was told that he was the last one of the litter and was left behind, that no one seemed to want him. The owners sent me more photos of him which I showed to my family, and we all agreed that he would fit in perfectly. So, we planned the trip to pick him up, driving well over 100 miles to bring home this new family addition.
When we arrived, as we were waiting for him, we acted like kids waiting to open gifts on Christmas morning. We were led into a grand room, and this little guy was running around and playing with toys. He immediately came over to us and began chewing at our feet. His hair was white with yellow on the tips of his ears. His nose, cocoa brown, and his eyes, a soft, olive green. I could not resist hugging him, and when I did, he was very happy! Off we went with this added blessing.
The rest of our family was waiting at our home to greet him. When they saw him, they fell in love with him as quickly as I did. Our other two dogs at home were curious, but still they were wagging their tails, glad to have another member of their kind at home. Not before long, they became friends, then eventually, brothers.
This little guy responded to our commands, learned to rest on his own bed at night, and potty-trained easily. I thought he was an angel but a very quiet one.
I became concerned as to why he never made any sounds, which led me to inquire about it. I was told not to worry, that he would find his voice soon enough, so I remained patient, keeping only positive thoughts that he would one day speak.
That day arrived!
I was working from my home office, which is usually very serene, but breaking the silence, a sonorous and very loud bark sounded out of this little guy’s mouth and both surprised and startled me and his brothers. I was amazed that sound like that could come out of such a small animal, but that was about to change as well!
Within a few months, he had a growth spurt that was just as shocking as his first bark. My family and I were perplexed as to why he was getting so big when we were told that he would not be big at all! I was struggling with this because we did not expect or plan for it as we were not used to having such a big dog our home, and neither were our other two dogs.
This new guy on the block was bumping into things, knocking things over, running through the house, and pulling up rugs as he skidded through the hallways. We had to get different sized water and food bowls for him. Even the home-cooked food I prepared for the other dogs had to be more than tripled to feed them all. All of us were making many adjustments, but more so I was especially because I work from home.
Resentment toward this new guy was growing in my heart and led me to consider bringing him back to where we got him. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to focus, and every time he barked, my heart jumped. I found myself constantly cleaning up behind him from whatever he would rub up against or bump into, such as the stainless steel refrigerator that he liked to shake in front of after getting his teeth brushed and his mouth washed!
What really brought me to the end was one day when a neighbor of mine saw him on the porch and shouted to me from across the street, “I didn’t know that you got a Standard Poodle.” I shouted back, “Neither did I. And anyway, that’s not what he is.” She said, “Whatever! He’s cute.” I plopped to the floor and cried, feeling befuddled and overwhelmed. However, this big guy came over to me and licked my face.
I called a family meeting to discuss this dilemma. The response of my family was loving and very supportive. They told me that whatever I needed to do to restore a harmonious household, they were beside me all the way. However, by the looks on their face and the dog’s face, I knew I had to find another way to resolve this issue—I needed a new plan!
I prayed fervently for more patience and to see this big guy’s purpose; I tried daily to handle this challenge with gratitude and love. One day, I recalled a movie that I had seen a few years back called Forever Strong. A line that has since remained with me from that movie is that “God doesn’t make a no-good ANYTHING.”
I wrote that down as an affirmation of hope and kept repeating it to myself every time I became frustrated with this big boy in our home. Meanwhile, I kept cleaning the hardwood floors from his paw prints, wiping up the mess from his food, straightening the rugs, as well as reminding him, as he would drag one of his brothers around by the tail, that he needed to be more gentle. When he barked, I saw it as another opportunity for me to exercise calmness and restraint and to remain unruffled.
As I battled within as to what the best course of action was, I realized that still, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was considering returning him to the original owners. It seemed the easier route because it was part of the adoption plan. If for any reason I could not keep the dog, I had signed an agreement to return the dog to the owners, regardless of how long I have had him. However, my wavering was just adding more confusion to the already difficult challenge. I knew that I had to make a definitive decision to either bring him back right then and there or see this through.
One morning while I was working, I felt a painful sensation in my stomach that was getting worse by the minute. No one else was home but me and the three dogs.
As I fell to the floor from the excruciating pain, my big boy came over to me and laid down beside me. As I struggled to get up and make my way to the bathroom, the pain was just too intense. I tried to reach for the arm of the chair for leverage to get up but couldn’t. That is when he moved himself into position to let me lean on him.
I was able to get up, and he remained right by my side. As I cried out in great discomfort he got closer to me, leaned up against me, and put his head on my lap. He looked into my eyes, and I began to feel the spasms lift. He stayed with me the rest of the day, not leaving my side. I apologized to him for my impatience and doubt, but he just kept looking at me with those soft olive green eyes. I hugged him just like I did that first day that we met and told him that I love him and that this is his home.
Since that day, whenever I need to use the facility, he follows me, leans up against me, and puts his head on my lap. He has begun doing that with other family members, too! Moreover, in one instance, a guest of ours, after coming out of the bathroom, saw our big boy sitting in front of the bathroom door, and she told us it seemed as though he was checking on her. We shared the story of our struggle with the dog’s acceptance, and we all smiled.
From that day forward, I realized his purpose. This big boy was meant to comfort, to support, and to protect! And when he barks, though it is still very loud, I giggle and continue working without skipping a beat.
You’re right, Mr. Gelwix, “God doesn’t make a no-good anything.”
Check him out in the video "Changes" from Follow Griffith.