Last November, I got a FaceTime call from my son who was attending college in California. He and his friends had just picked up a piece of furniture that one of them had bought online. As the music played and the friends drove, he was calling to introduce me to his new dog. What?!
When his friends picked up the piece of furniture, the seller mentioned, “I also have this dog if you know anyone who wants it.” And my son had readily agreed: “I’ll take her.”
Despite my appeals for him to take the dog back—”you have no idea what it will involve, the cost, the care, etc.”—it became clear she was a new member of the family.
“Missy” came for her first visit over Christmas break and met her new family.
We took her to a local veterinary practice that offered a free first visit. In reviewing her records from the previous owner, we discovered Missy was 10 and a half years old! We updated her rabies shot, and he examined a knot that we had noticed. It was a tumor that he recommended removing. Perhaps the pieces were coming together for why the former owner no longer wanted her! We scheduled surgery for January 3, hoping this would give her enough recovery time so that my son would still be able to take her back after the long Christmas break.
The evening of December 29, I had gone out to get some dinner for the family. In my drive to the restaurant and back, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by everything. I had also recently learned I needed two hopefully minor surgeries, the first of which was scheduled for January 8. Now the dog and I would have surgery the same week. You know how those winter months are when it gets dark outside early, it’s cold, and you can easily feel down? Here I was, now attached to this darling dog, yet feeling stressed and wondering how all this had happened!
As I drove to the restaurant, I was so close to calling my mom to pour out my emotions about it all! But I sensed, “Go first to God.” It’s so easy to want to tell a friend or family member what we’re going through, and there’s a time for that, but I needed this reminder of better first to talk to God.
So I prayed as I drove. I emptied it all out to the Lord. What was the point of it all? What were we looking at with this dog post-surgery? Why the dog to begin with? And was it worth our time and money? Did God care about even our pets? And as I prayed, I had this thought of how God rescues us, and we had been able to rescue this dog. I reflected, prayed, and then pulled into the drive-through.
While I was in the drive through, K-LOVE was on the radio. They came to their encouraging story, where a listener shares his story. This man told about how his beloved dog had been killed. He was sad and wanted a new one. He could have gone anywhere and bought a new puppy, but he decided to go instead to a shelter to rescue a dog. It was a chihuahua, an older one! He said all the little dog could offer him were four bad knees and a heart murmur! But to him, it was a picture of how God had rescued him, not based on who he was or what he had done, but God had counted him worth the cost and loved and rescued him.
Wow! I had asked God about our little chihuahua, prayed, pictured rescue, and then heard this very story! Had I called my mom, I would have turned down the radio and never heard it! I came home and read some in the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn to see his thoughts on pets. It was encouraging to me that God does care and this does matter. When Scripture says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” does this somehow include not even us, but all living things?
So Missy had her surgery. It was cancer, but it was contained, with only about a 25% chance of it returning. She healed and went back to California.
Missy got to visit again in March for our son’s spring break, only to get back to California, and have to return a week later when coronavirus forced everything online. And now she’s been here since March. Though she is my son’s dog, she is truly part of the family. She has been such a sweet blessing and joy to us all and so fun to enjoy together, especially during these months of isolation, working from home, going through surgeries… We all love her!
I’ve tried to learn then this important lesson of taking things to God first! We may not always get so clear an answer, but as we praise Him, seek Him, and ask Him, we may be surprised at the peace He is ready to supply. He can perfectly order our steps and arrange an encounter—through His Word, through prayer, and through His Holy Spirit—that will answer us, such that when we go to our friends or family, we might actually have a story of praise instead of despair!