Last week I told you about the dog that found us. Today’s joy-finder is about a dog we inherited. Sort of.
Bill, my husband’s first cousin, was a free spirit who’d done everything from selling gold to computer programming to construction work. Even though he owned several rental properties, he lived in a single wide trailer on what was left of his family’s land.
In the last years of his life, Cousin Bill managed a store in our tiny town. Imagine an old-time gas station, dark bays to one side, gas pumps on the other. Rockers and a gossip bench lined up outside the picture window. At one time, there was even a joggling board. Each morning, Bill would hold court with a group of men, bankers wearing suits to farmers in overalls. telling jokes, tall tales, and the latest “news.” I can still picture Bill, leaning on a gas pump, delivering the punch line, then throwing his head back and laughing louder than any of them.
Like his fortunes, his relationships also ran hot-and-cold. He’d show his quick temper one day, but the next, he’d give someone a priceless heirloom. “Hold this for me until I need it,” he’d say, but he’d never ask you to return it. Bill had two consistent joys, his family, and any stray that crossed his path.
Bill had two consistent joys, his family, and any stray that crossed his path. When a brain aneurysm took him at age 60, he had a six-toed cat and a dog with no name. He’d outlived his ancient, sway-backed horse by a month.
We never found the cat, but when we went to pick up the dog, he wouldn’t leave the pen. My husband and I had to carry the 50+ pound Labrador retriever-bloodhound-ish mix back to the car. He shivered so much in the back seat, it took days to remove his hair from the car upholstery. Knowing Bill’s love for history, we named him Bill’s Beauregard, or Beau, for short.
We ‘ve always had dogs and we’d lost the last of our big babies about a year earlier, so we already had a huge fenced run and a four-dog house up on stilts with removable doors for summer. But Beau wouldn’t go inside. Instead, he went under it and wouldn’t come out, not even to eat. So, we fed him there, half-crawling to put the bowl under the house.
You should have seen us trying to get him out from under the house and into the car to go to the vet. It would’ve been a great reel for AFV. But we finally did got him there.
That’s when she gave us the bad news: heartworms.
Because he was only five and in relatively good condition, he didn’t qualify to receive the shots that would cure him. A shortage of the serum dictated that only those on death’s door or older dogs could receive it. However, she did prescribe a heartworm preventative that would allow him to have a relatively good life.
But that wasn’t all: he had an ear infection and was probably allergic to grass. Beau would have to become an indoor dog and be fed a special food.
We had a large area rug in our great room at the time. It was like an indoor fence because he was afraid to walk on hardwood floors. At bedtime, we’d put his leash on him and lead him to the bedroom or else he’d whine all night in the other room.
Poor baby. Talk about damaged goods.
Today, he’s a different dog. For some reason, he thinks he’s small. (You should see him sit in our laps.) But, he’s got a deep, rumbling bark that will stop a freight train. He a great watchdog. (Speaking of watchdog, he can also tell time. It’s 7:59 a.m. as I edit this and he’s whining because we feed him at eight o’clock. He doesn’t understand the time change.)
He loves to be petted and brushed. He will even let me vacuum him. He doesn’t do it very often, but when he wags that otter-tail of his, it’ll warm your heart. If we want his approval, all we have to say is, “good boy.”
If we were to search our hearts, are any of us truly different from Beau or Bill? We’re all damaged goods. We all have faults, handicaps, quirks. We all need love and a little patience.
Did you know we have it? It’s the perfect love of our Savior, who doesn’t care how damaged we are. He meets us where we are. He waits for us like our bridegroom. We have only to accept His unlimited, unfailing love.
As several friends say, “God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.”
How has God been good to you today? Have you ever had a pet with a past? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear the story.
(P.S. I totally stole this idea from my friend, Jerusha Agen’s. Facebook posts about her own animals.)