God’s Gift of a Good Dog–Part 2
(Part 1 is linked at the end of this post–where I introduce you to my earliest memory, explaining my love for dogs! And don’t forget to comment for an opportunity to offer help for a furry friend.)
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1, 2–NIV).
As a child of two, Momma would push my stroller through an alley behind our house, and I would squeal with delight when we arrived at a chainlink fence. Because I knew. Behind it was what I considered a gift, no matter how many times we passed.
The dogs would come–bodies wagging their excitement, tongues lolling. After all, I, too, was a gift, my giggles making them happy–telling me with licks through the fencing, yipping in unison.
Such was song to my little girl heart.
And I’d breathe–inhale deeply to take in their scent. Though perhaps dirty dogs, their aroma to me meant friendship, their fragrance seared on my memory, even today, all these years later.
After a few moments, we’d continue on. I can’t recall other things we saw or the conversations we had. I’m sure Momma pointed as she shared a rhyme, possibly something like–
“See the bright blue, pretty sky? See the clouds as they pass by?
See the sunshine streaming down, as we take our walk through town?“
Finally we’d arrive at our destination–a quaint drugstore on a quiet city street near downtown Dayton. If I close my eyes, I can still see 2-year old me being lifted from my stroller to toddle inside, still hear the sound of the tinkling bell, still smell the store’s interior–a mixture of sterile wraps and Necos.
Inevitably, we were greeted by the shop owner–a man whose face I cannot recall, though I envision him wearing a white pharmacist’s jacket and trousers. He would say hello, having come from behind the counter to check on our needs, inquire about our day.
I don’t know how many times we visited him, nor what purchases we made over the course of time. Only one encounter in particular can I recall, and even my memory of this day has likely been impacted by the story I’ve been told by Momma, not necessarily something I remember all on my own.
It was summer, and I was hot from our walk from home to the healthcare store, damp with perspiration. My fair skin was flushed, little beads of sweat gathering around my blonde brow. With the tinkle of the bell, our pharmacist friend appeared before us, asked how he could be of assistance.
Momma knew just what I needed. “We’ll take a popsicle, please.” And the man made his way back behind a counter to take the icy treat from the cooler. “One popsicle, comin’ right up!” he likely called, kindness expressed in his voice.
Removing the wrapper, our friend held the popsicle up–the pop of color hanging midair pure magic to me as I clasped my hands with excitement.
A true magician, the pharmacist performed his trick–took the single popsicle and, with just a twist of its wooden sticks–Voilà!–created two. “And here you are, young lady. One for you, and one for your momma.”
I was beside myself, so enraptured with the magical moment. Joy welled up inside from where I truly believe Jesus already lived–his presence in the sunshiny song we’d sung on our way, from the delight of summer and stroller rides and the love I knew from both my mother and father.
From a visit, too, with mongrel dogs whom I loved and who loved me–who somehow, despite my youth, pointed me to the Creator of all good things, the One who loved me–loves me still!–the most.
What could I say to the kind magic man who’d made my treat enough for Momma too? I didn’t have time to ponder, but I knew to be polite. My joy overflowed with thanksgiving as I offered the best compliment I could muster. Wrapping my arms around the leg of the man who still held the popsicles, one in each hand, I cried–
“You’re a d-ood dog!”
And I meant it. But what my heart was truly saying in those four simple words–though I couldn’t quite articulate the wellspring of gladness–was, Thank you! You, too, are a giver of good gifts, an earthly example of our good and loving God, the One who created the very best thing in my little world…
Momma tells me the man smiled, even blushed a bit. Because he also knew–
A dog is a good gift! To be compared to such by a toddler of two was compliment indeed.
As we departed the drugstore on that hot summer day, popsicles in hand, the scent of sterile wraps and Necos faded as I eagerly licked my melting treat.
I’m sure my arms were sugar-streaked and sticky by the time we passed back by the dogs, as I breathed them in once more, smiling my pleasure as Momma pushed me those final strides toward home.
And all these years later, I can close my eyes, experience again the fragrance of what I believed to be good gifts, those dogs somehow directing me to savor the love and sacrifice of my Savior.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if, one day, before my eyes even open, I inhale deeply and discover that I’m finally Home. Perhaps it will be the familiar scent of a drugstore. More likely, it will be reminiscent of those pups. Either way, to me, the fragrance will undoubtedly be the presence of our good, good Father…
Yes, the Giver of a good dog.
How have dogs perhaps impacted your life? Do you have a favorite memory of time spent with one? Please share in the comments below, and a donation will be made in your name to our local no-kill shelter.
Dear Jesus, I imagine you loved dogs–maybe even had a pup when you were a boy. I wish we could read stories about that, but I’m thankful for my own and others, too–those stories that point us to a good God through His wonderful gift of dogs in this yet imperfect world. Amen.
(To read “God’s Gift of a Good Dog–Part 1,” click the title.)