Sometimes it's hard to know what to pray for.
I have to admit that I was really hoping to get a puppy this summer. It seemed to me an ideal summer to be involved in training a puppy, because other than 2 trips up home to Michigan, I didn't have any other plans to be gone, so I could be home with a dog and get it ready for when I'd be gone more in the school year. Besides, Sarah is coming this fall so there will be another person around to let her out.
Well, you all know that I DID get a puppy, but it was a tough decision. I've considered getting a puppy/dog before, but I've talked myself out of it because I haven't been home enough during the school year--and, besides, pets cost money! But this time around I really thought I could do arrange my schedule to do it. And it seems like there's always enough money for what you really want to spend it on. Besides, how fun is having a DOG!?
So I started looking online at the Humane Society and reading the classifieds every once in a while during the last couple months of the school year. I thought it would only be fair to a dog (especially a puppy) if I got her (I was only considering a female) at the BEGINNING of the summer so I could spend as much time with her as possible before my school schedule starts in August. When school got out I thought maybe I'd just take one trip to the Humane Society and find that perfect little dog or puppy, and BOOM! But it was hard to know what I was looking for. I borrowed books from the library on breeds, but I know I've always loved mutts. I thought I'd need a smaller breed because, frankly, they cost less because they eat less--plus they're easier to take with you places. However, I did NOT want a tiny dog like a chihuahua. I wanted a dog you could go out and take for a walk every night when you get home; it seems to be a great exercise program! Sure, pets cause more wear on the house, but what's a house for if not to really LIVE in it? (Besides, this will give me a good incentive to clean and vacuum more!)
So I was hoping to just see that one puppy (and I was really looking for a puppy) that would just scream, "Ooh! It's ME! Pick me! Take me home!" But I went twice to the Humane Society before leaving for Michigan and didn't find anything other than beagles or really BIG dogs or a 10-month old white Jack Russell terrier, which I wasn't all that crazy about. I started reading the Classifieds EVERY day in the "Absolutely Free" section. Oh yes, that was my other stipulation: I was NOT going to pay big bucks for a dog. So I spent a week in Michigan, thinking, "It's almost too late to get a puppy now." But I was going home for about 5 weeks then so thought, "If I can find a puppy THIS week, it might work!"
Monday I spent getting ready for our VBS and playing with my new laptop, so I didn't really get to reading the classifieds. Tuesday morning, however, reading through the "Absolutely Free" section, one caught my eye: free medium mixed breed dogs. So I made a phone call. I asked what size the pups might be: "well, shepherd, lab, chow, retriever mix--something like that." That didn't sound medium-sized to me, that sounded pretty big, but I thought the only way to really find out was to take a look at them. So I asked if I could stop by--he gave me directions to a farm north of town and he had 3 girls and 2 boys left out of a litter of 9. They were 8-9 weeks old. And, of course, they were really cute, but I was concerned they might not be healthy as they had not had any shots or anything yet--besides, they looked to be kind of on the pudgy side, and I was wondering if there was something wrong with them. But the mom wasn't THAT big--she was probably about border collie size and looked to be like a short-haired border collie. All the pups looked different--the 2 boys looked like they had Rottweiler markings! But they looked like they would be medium-large sized dogs. BUT there were girls, AND they were FREE. AND I could basically take one home RIGHT NOW. So now I was in a dilemma. I told the man if I was really interested I would call him back, otherwise don't hold one for me. And then I went to the Humane Society--nothing that really stood out to me there still. Besides, they seem to take a long time getting through paperwork until you finally get to take the puppies home. So I went to the library and checked out a few books on puppies. In looking through some information, I discovered that worms can cause puppies to have bloated stomachs. Aha--roundworms, that's pretty common in puppies, nothing to really be worried about there. Otherwise, everything else in those farm puppies seemed to line up when looking for a healthy puppy.
So I made phone calls to all of my advisors--my siblings! Sarah voted yes, because she wanted a larger dog anyway (one she could take jogging with her). Rachel advised me to figure out what I really wanted, as did Tim (well, actually, he said no). Therein was the dilemma. Did I really want a larger dog? So I did a lot of "heart-searching." What was I really looking for in a dog? Obviously, I DID decide to go with the larger dog. Honestly, they are my personal favorites, but I just didn't think I could afford one or have a yard big enough for one. BUT if I exercised her well she could be fine. And bigger dogs don't eat THAT much more food, do they? And I really don't like small, yippy dogs. A bigger dog would be a good watchdog and a lot more fun to take for long walks. A smaller dog could travel with you better, though. And the more I talked to my "advisors," the more I realized I hadn't looked at the puppies long enough to really remember them too well. I decided I needed one more look at them, so the next morning I called the "dog guy" back and asked if he still had the females. (I figured if they were still available by the next day that was a "sign.") :) He only had 2 females left now, so my choices were being more limited, so I booked it out there. The one I had wanted to check out more was gone now, but the first one that had caught my eye was still there. She was the one who had come up to me first thing and let me rub her belly, while all the other puppies eventually took off or never came up to me at all. At first I was concerned she might be too aggressive, but figured out she wasn't like that at all. She was actually the "runt" of the litter and I think was just more used to having to push a little bit to get some attention. So I said I'd take her. (The other female was brindle-colored and more aloof--more like a chow.)
So that's the LONG version of how I ended up with my puppy. I spent Wednesday night making my first trip to PetSmart (and also hitting Wal-Mart and Meijer) to buy all those needed puppy items. And Thursday I made one more trip out to the farm to bring her home!
But, anyway, where I was going with this, was that during this selection process I wasn't sure whether to pray about this decision or not. I thought, does God really care if I get a puppy or not?? How in the world should I pray about this decision? I guess I could have prayed for wisdom. And I know God cares about good stewardship of money, but does it really matter if you have a dog or not? Did I want this just because I was being selfish? Are there any spiritual benefits of having a dog? Can God use a dog? I have to admit, that my brother said I should "pray about it," but I really didn't, because I really wondered if God cared about my getting a DOG!
However, in the one week and one day that I have HAD Juju (and I am SO GLAD I got her, by the way), I have already seen how God has used this dog in my life. I tend to "hide out" in my home and it does not come naturally to me to reach out to others. But in the last week, from having a puppy, I have met the high school boy "Ben" who lives behind me, the other neighbors behind me and their 2 girls (who I found out go to my church), talked more to my next door neighbor, and met the 3 girls who live across the street! (After living here for 1 year I'm finally meeting the neighbors!) And I find that people (especially kids) love to pet my puppy! So I think God can really use a dog when it comes to meeting people in the community!
So, yes, I do believe God wanted me to get this puppy!
(Hey, congratulations for making it through this LONG post!)