Thanking God For A Seven-Pound Bundle Of Un-Cool Canine Love

No, my babies weighed quite a bit more . . . and I’m much, much more grateful to my God for Anthony and Jonah than I am for my longhaired Chihuahua-Poodle mix, Perry. I mean, I entered motherhood enraptured by my children, and as the nest empties, I’m still enraptured by them as they grow into fine adult men. I’m not surprised that they’re wonderful; I’m just overwhelmed by how much I cherish them — and by how much they eat. But when I got Perry, I just figured I’d have a little dog around the house, a pleasant addition to my life, but not an overly vital one. It’s true, however, that the thought of having become a 50-year-old lady with a yappy little dog, an RV, and a cane I use on particularly bad-back days is more than a little disconcerting.

You see, I used to be so cool. I went through a brief skinny-tie, mini-skirted punk period in college — I even had a safety pin welded into a spiral and thus blunted enough to slip into my cheek when my friends and I went out to concerts by The Confused, The Questioners, The Telephones, and The Unimaginative-When-It-Comes-To-Band-Names. I put in my time as an athlete, vegetarian, socialist, comedian, and slam-dancer before coming to Christ at 20, and even in the ensuing years of career-marriage-motherhood-ministry, I was always the sharp, witty, open-minded, athletic one counted on to liven up baby and wedding showers, church potlucks, and family gatherings. I steered one son toward punk and alternative rock and kept up easily with the other when he fell in love with Reggae. My wallets were hemp, my Birkenstocks well-worn, and my Prius plastered with bumperstickers promoting medicinal marijuana, feeding the poor, and reaching out to immigrants.

Even in a vastly different milieu from my college years, I was, all things considered, pretty cool, if not at times more than a little too concerned about keeping up with the evangelical Joneses and finding common cause with their unbelieving cousins. But one thing never changed — I never saw myself like my parents’ older friends, with their bad backs, dislike of loud music, and dismay over the fashions of the youth around them. And I assumed I was waaaaaaay too cool to turn 50 with a furry little yapper-dog of dubious lineage and enthusiastically vocal character.

But two years ago, when I had a sense that I needed something to shake up my life, perhaps something to shower some “emptying-nester” attention on, I found a kind of homely, ragged-looking lone survivor of a litter of Poo-Chis. Which, I soon learned, cannot be confused with Chi-Poos. Poo-Chis — and yes, I’m embarrassed, thanks — are half toy Poodle and half Chihuahua; Chi-Poos are three-quarters Chihuahua and one-quarter Poodle, thank you very much. I fell in love with this shaggy, white little guy with big black spots, bulging eyes, and a dancing gait that charmed me from the moment I saw him.

I brought my 10-week-old little pal home on August 24, 2008, and named him “Perry” at Jeff’s request; he remembered fondly another Perry that we had who, after eating through Jeff’s briefcase and destroying a year’s worth of profit-and-loss records, was exiled to a ranch outside of Startup, Washington, where he lived a life free of accounting statements and Samsonite accessories. I would have named my new little puppy “However” or “Carburetor” or “Enid” if that’s what Jeff wanted; “Perry” was an easy compromise.

We enjoyed the late summer with this tiny little booger, who quickly established his Alpha-dog status over Georgia, our laconic, terminally-mellow Lab/Pointer mix. By early Fall he was housetrained, and by Christmas he traveled with us as much as possible, having caught Jeff’s heart and proved himself to be a hearty, intrepid explorer of coffee shops, city streets, and highway rest stops. I was in love from the first day; by year’s end, I couldn’t imagine my life without this seven-pound little thing that looked like an ink-splattered cotton ball with four legs and some seriously prominent eyes.

In February, as many of you know, my dear father died unexpectedly of what we euphemistically called “complications of surgery” but what, in truth, was the result of gross negligence and arrogance on the part of the hospital staff. My father’s death left me numb, filled with a leaden sense of loss and rage and confusion that only my faith in Dad’s Savior could soften. My husband was wonderful, my kids were great, my friends were faithful, and my dog . . . well, he was just THERE, on my lap, in my bed, bundled up in my arms and curled next to me on the couch. He obviously had no words of wisdom or comfort, but he stayed with me, silent but present. He met my eyes, touched my heart, asked nothing of me, and somehow knew to stay close.

In all seriousness, and with utter disregard for how comically uncool this is to some of you, I cannot imagine getting through the last 18 months since my dad died without my dear little Poo-Chi. God knew what I would need when he prompted my heart to open itself for Perry’s inclusion in our family, just seven months before my world was rocked like never before. I’ve heard all of the arguments against Intelligent Design, all of the nay-saying over theistic evolution, and I’ve argued with those who insist that mere randomness and selection resulted in Mother Theresa, Mick Jagger, and Grandma Ada, my next-door-neighbor from childhood. But really, the fact that God created in dogs a little something extra, something uniquely different that enables them to “read” our hearts and enter into our worlds like no other species, is the single greatest argument I see for the simple, inviolable, incomprehensible truth that God spoke and the universe unfolded in life . . . centuries later, with yappy little dogs and the past-middle-aged women who love them.

I toss Perry a rawhide chew to thank him, and I cuddle him after his bath. But I publicly praise my Creator for having made dogs, and for having steered this little guy toward me, long before I would know that he rescued me every bit as much as I rescued him.

Leave a Reply