"AND MOSES SAID, THIS IS THE THING WHICH THE LORD COMMANDS, FILL AN OMER TO BE KEPT FOR YOUR GENERATIONS; THAT THEY MAY SEE THE BREAD WHEREWITH I HAVE FED YOU IN THE WILDERNESS, WHEN I BROUGHT YOU FORTH FROM THE LAND OF EGYPT." -EXODUS 16:32
From 2 to 4. Yes, our apartment doubled overnight! About 3ish weeks ago I got a puppy, aka Sallie. If you know me at all, then your first reaction was probably pretty similar to all the rest of my friends and family. Something along the lines of- WHAT?! Leah...don't. You don't even like dogs! You're crazy! Or my favorite...we'll just have to see I guess. And normally, I would be completely annoyed/hurt by the lack of support from my "friends". But in this case I have to say....I couldnt blame them. I almost came to just expect those responses as soon as anyone heard the news. Because, its true. I don't like dogs and never have. In fact, I think that 90% of dogs are awfully unattractive creatures. I'm not afraid of them or anything like that. I just think they are dirty, their breath is almost unbearable, they lick your face, they poop and pee and shed everywhere, and you have to plan your whole day around letting them out and playing with them etc...I mean, don't take this the wrong way but...they're like kids. And I never understood someone willingly taking on all of the above for something that will never talk to you or grow up or move out and become independent.
But slowly a weird urking started happening inside me this semester. That's the best word I can find to describe it-an urk. I started listening more closely when people told stories of the love and joy that they get from their dog. I started looking around me and seeing a dog here or there that made me think to myself hmm thats actually a cool looking dog! I noticed more of the good things like: a dog running right beside this lady when she was jogging on Old Omen...not in front of her dragging her down the road, and not lagging way behind her completely miserable, but right down at her side running at the same pace. It just looked cool. Or the guy at the soccer field playing frisbee with his golden retriever (ps: before owning Sallie, a golden retriever is the only dog breed that I could point out confidently. anything else and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a poodle and a basset hound) I loved the thought of taking my dog for a run or to the park to play with a ball. Part of me wanted that. But I think really what it came down to was a combination of those experiences, my spontaneous personality and need for adventure, a longing for a responsibility and way to spend my free time, a desire for something to love and care for (and a hope that it would maybe do the same back, despite all my years of pessimism), and ultimately, just a new season of life. The timing seemed right. So, Sarah and I made our way to Petland. In my mind, I'm not leaving there with a dog unless that dog is absolutely perfect and fits the random list of qualities I had assembled in my head. And I'm pretty confident that the idea of leaving with TWO dogs was definitely NOT in mine or Sarah's mind. But long story short...we walk in...fall in love, literally at the first crate of puppies...and come home the next day with Sallie and Riley.
And even though it took no more than 2 or 3 days before I stopped referring to her as "the perfect puppy", I can tell you that I really do love and am so thankful I decided to get Sallie. I'm convinced that God's hand has been over the whole thing and blown away by the reminder that God knows my heart. For example: the first week, Sallie stayed in my lap or in my arms pretty much all day. And she was asleep for most of that so it was even better. At the same time, Riley, aka tripod...crazy...runt...was not exactly calm and chill and quiet like Sallie. Both of them are absolutely the cutest, greatest puppies...but we quickly learned the differences in their personalities. I cant count the number of times I whispered Thanks God...thanks God...thanks God. I, the amateur dog-owner, would have been absolutely overwhelmed if Riley was my dog that first week. I wouldn't have been able to adjust, I'm sure I wouldve just gotten frustrated, annoyed, and given up. I'm not sure if there is a return policy at Petland, but if I had left there with any dog other than Sallie, I'm convinced I would've brought her back. Now before you get the wrong idea that Sallie is an angel and Riley is just crazy, I have to tell you about these last 2 weeks. Sallie (and Leah) adjusted to life with each other. Sallie started to get comfortable with the apartment, with me, and with Riley and Sarah. Soon after that, the puppy that I had started to just assume came right out of the womb already potty-trained, began leaving her little pee puddles on the floor and in her kennel and pooping on the clean towels. She no longer slept in my arms 24/7...instead, seemingly overnight, she became this constant ball of energy who always wanted to play and wrestle. AND to top it all off, her new favorite hours to play/whine/pee became 3am and 6am. Ask anyone you want-those are not my friendliest hours!
All that to say, Sallie has quickly earned a few choice nicknames herself. And earlier this week I was convinced she was beginning to think her name was NO instead of Sallie. But I still love her tremendously. I went to Washington DC this weekend and actually missed her...alot. I look both ways like 3 times before crossing the street to take her to go potty just to triple check for cars coming around the corner. And she's even in my dreams sometimes. The love I have for her surprises me all the time and is nothing like I would've ever expected. ever. She's exactly what I needed. There's no doubt in my mind that it was all my Father's doing...He's just taking care of His daughter.I'm thankful to for the opportunity to learn patience through something whose love for me never stops and is unconditional. I mean, where else can you find that besides in God and in a dog? While the patience lessons seem to never end, neither does Sallie's love. If I'm tired and snap at her for whining when I'm trying to sleep, she still loves me. Or if I groan the whole time shes decides she needs to pee at 3 am in the freezing cold, she still loves me. Or if I whack her a little too hard after she makes a mess of her kennel for the 5th time that day, she just climbs into my lap and looks at me with those sweet eyes that just seem to shout, I still love you... I'm thankful, in the weirdest way possible, for her poop and my reaction to her poop. I hate it- it makes a mess...its smells...its gross...and its one of those things that belong nowhere but the toilet. But every time I clean it up. And I clean her up. I might get angry and even gag a little bit, but I will always clean it up. And inevitably...she will do it again. It reminds me of my sin and of Gods love and forgiveness for me. I've been known to make some pretty big messes in my life. Ive gotten myself dirty. But God has always, always cleaned me up and loved me just the same. And just like Sallie, I know that I'll mess up again. But His love for me never ends. Now every time Sallie leaves a mess I get super frustrated, and sometimes just plain shocked because I just took her outside, but I'm completely sure that a small part of me smiles because of the reminder that comes with it :)
I'm thankful for you Sallie. And I love you so much.