Puppy promises and prayers

It poured rain on the spring Saturday that I drove across town on a mission of motherhood. But I was less than half-hearted to fulfill it. My more enthusiastic, 13-year-old son sat in the middle seat of our minivan as we plowed down a waterlogged road, looking for street signs. The small plastic bin next to him held a clean towel—big enough to wrap a puppy in.

Rufus explores the garden.

No one simply goes to look at a puppy, at least not in my family. But I hoped for an exception.

I had loved and cared for our hound-mix, Wilma, for all of her fifteen years. Once she was gone I had no desire to replace her. Before long I appreciated the pet-free life: travel without arranging pet-care; furniture with no dog hair; windows without nose prints; a backyard with nothing to watch out for.

But my could-have-been-a-lawyer son, Weston, felt otherwise. He reasoned that Wilma had been his older siblings’ dog that they’d gotten as a puppy before he was born. And if we waited much longer, his boyhood would be over. The poor child would never know a puppy.

Wilma had needed lots of close attention in her last year, so I had good reason to argue against getting another pet anytime soon. But I sealed my fate early on when I made a concession to my son, something like:  “I’ll need two years to recover first.” I hoped he would let go of the idea altogether as time passed.

A few days before that rainy spring Saturday, my husband casually remarked:  “I can’t believe Wilma’s been gone for two years. I think I’m ready for another dog.” Our son’s eyes grew wide and I groaned with the realization that my house—and life—might soon be besieged by a puppy.

I cautiously entered into discussions of dog breeds and characteristics, though I secretly hoped to be delivered from the outcome of such conversation. I also listened to my son say his bedtime prayers. If a child’s arguments can’t move a parent, their prayers can.

Thirteen-year-old Weston cuddles his new Jack Russell Terrier.

Several days of looking at Dogs-for-Sale ads and prayers for guidance led to my making some inquiries. When that rainy Saturday arrived, Weston and I headed out on the mission I hoped would fail. But the driving distance and the worsening weather began working on my practical nature. I didn’t want the hazardous excursion to be in vain.

Soon enough, three Jack Russell terrier pups raced around our feet as we stood quietly sizing them up—a male and two females. If the inevitable must happen, I had predetermined to choose a female. But I’d read about puppy behavior and personality, and couldn’t take my eyes off the male. Neither could my son.

While I considered the male/female dilemma, a young couple arrived. I felt strangely relieved when they paid no attention to the male puppy. In short order they snatched up one of the females as a mate for their other pet. A few minutes later we carried our own little bundle of joy out the door—our first “boy” dog.

Seven years later, Weston is away at college, but our empty-nest isn’t quite so empty with “Rufus” to watch our every move. We have dog hair on the sofa, and nose marks on the front windows.  But I can’t imagine living without a dog—and I don’t want to.

Patti Richter

Blue Ribbon News special contributor Patti Richter works as journalist, writing news and feature stories, book reviews and more for many Christian publications. She lives in Heath with her husband Jim. 

Read more by Patti Richter:

God’s not-so-random acts of kindness

Of Snakes & Pumpkins: even a perfect fall day is made better with prayer

A lesson in forgiveness – just in time for Thanksgiving

De-stressing at Christmas – in the closet

Down with Resolutions – except one

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