As a boy, my husband, Pete, always wanted a dog. I think most boys do. His parents told him that as soon as their neighbour’s dog died then he can have a dog of his own. The day arrived when Pete joyfully ran into the house to tell his parents that the neighbour’s dog had died. He would soon be a dog-owner himself! His older sister turned to their parents and asked if they were finally going to stop lying to him. He never did get his dog.
Needless to say, Pete doesn’t like dogs.
My family had had a dog when I was young. His name was Whiskers and he was a small terrier who had trouble obeying. He used to go and spend a few weeks at my grandparents’ farm or my aunt and uncle’s when we went camping during the summer. I am not sure why he didn’t come but I was too young to ask. One summer, it became very urgent that we interrupt our camping excursion to call my aunt and uncle to find out if Whiskers was okay. A call to my grandparents confirmed that Whiskers’ disobedience had finally cost him his life. He had run out onto the county road in front of my aunt and uncle’s home and been hit by a transport truck. After a few very tearful hours my parents decided that one was enough. My parents were done being dog-owners.
Pete and I discovered that he is a cat person and I am a dog one when we were dating. We had a cat for a while early in our marriage but when he left our home I said that I would never have a cat again. I don’t really understand the appeal of having an animal in the house who is only interested in its human roommates when it is dinner time. Pete said we would get a dog over his dead body. We were at a stalemate.
After Arlynne died, Pete and I started talking about getting a dog. Part of the reason was because of Josiah. He has autism and he doesn’t have many friends. I thought he would benefit from a pet. Someone I know had a litter of puppies and I really wanted to get one but they were expensive and Pete wasn’t sold on the idea. We were concerned about the vet bills associated with a pet in addition to all the food and upkeep. Neither one of us knew anything about puppies or training so we would be on a steep learning curve. We decided to pass on the puppy, at least for now. Pete did tell me that if I wanted a dog that I needed to start praying for one. I have prayed for unusual things before so I prayed for a dog.
That was a while ago.
This fall I met a bunch of new people in a group I am involved in at church. Among them was an older gentleman who had just started coming to our church a few months ago. I liked him from the very first moment I met him. He is a big man with a bigger heart and an intense love for Jesus. As we got to know each other in this group, he shared more and more about his life with us. He was in transition at that time and it involved leaving his home and getting an apartment. He didn’t have any fear about it whatsoever. He felt that God was leading him exactly where He wanted him and he was good with that. But he had a problem–his dog, Buster. Buster needed a new home. My friend said that his dog was 3 years old and he had been neutered and micro-chipped. He didn’t want any money for him. He just wanted Buster to have a home where people would love him.
I came home that night and told Pete that I thought we might have our dog. We decided to ask Josiah to think about whether he wanted Buster. Josiah didn’t mention it to the other kids as he spent a few days pondering an addition to the family. I was doing my homework. Buster is a german shepherd/husky. Given my limited experience and Pete’s complete lack of experience, we definitely had some thinking to do. I asked a pet groomer I met about dogs and those breeds in general and her response was not entirely positive. I also asked a dog-owning friend of mine about her experience. She was not overly enthusiastic either but she did mention the dog to her teenage daughter. I got a text from my daughter, Eden, the next day asking if we were getting a dog. She had been talking to my friend’s daughter. The
cat dog was out of the bag. Eden declared that if Buster didn’t have a home yet than he was supposed to be ours.
The next time I went to my group I asked my friend if he had found a home for Buster. He said, “No. Do you want to take him?” I said yes. He almost fell over. He told me that he and his daughter had just been talking about Buster that afternoon and they were heartbroken. They were certain that he would not survive if he went to the Humane Society and they didn’t know what to do. Then he spoke to me. He was amazed by God’s faithfulness, even about a dog.
Buster arrived at our house very early on Hallowe’en morning. He bounded out of the car and whipped into the house in a black blur. He promptly had his feet up on my kitchen counter, nearly scared our pet bunny half to death and accosted our kids. He was much bigger than I imagined and Nathan, our 8 year old, was tentative. He said he wanted a little dog, like my brother’s Maltese cross. I wondered what I had gotten us into.
I had never met Buster before he came to our home to stay that day, but I had a sense of who he was just from his owner.
It didn’t take too long before he settled down. Pete, my dog-hating husband, bonded with him right away. Buster respects him. He is Josiah’s best friend. Buster is almost beside himself with excitement when Josiah gets home. I watch them walking down the road every day after school, just a boy and his dog. It warms my heart. Eden doesn’t have to be afraid in the night because Buster is there. He is always patient with our twins.
Buster is the perfect dog for us.
He has never broken anything. He has never made a mess. I didn’t think he could bark until the first night he slept here and he was barking in his sleep. He doesn’t give kisses unless you ask him to (and he is in the right mood) and then he licks the tip of your nose. He and our bunny share a banana with me every morning and he cries when I take her to the groomer. I have dog hair all over my kitchen floor. He seems to eat as much as a small horse. If you expose your bare feet in his vicinity you are sure to get a good “washing” from him. He seems to love being underfoot, especially if there is food involved.
But, all told, Buster has been the blessing that we needed.
He reminds us not to raise our voices because he will leave the room. He gives us a reason to get off the couch and go for a walk. He acts as protector whenever someone knocks at the door. And he is always game for a good thorough petting. Yes, he is big but he fits around here just fine.
I didn’t see Buster’s former owner for a few weeks over Christmas but when I did he was very anxious to know how Buster was doing. He praises God every time he is reminded that God found Buster a home. It was a couple of weeks ago that I asked his former owner exactly when it was that he adopted Buster. He told me he wasn’t good with dates but he was pretty sure that he got him in the fall of 2011.
He got Buster the same year that Arlynne died.
God’s hand is in our lives. My friend didn’t even know that God loved him when he brought Buster home. He trained him and loved him and gave him all the care he needed. Then God intervened in this precious man’s life and sent Buster to us. God knew Josiah needed him. God knew I needed him.
I am not about to say that God replaced Arlynne with Buster. I don’t believe that an animal could begin to take a person’s place. Arlynne is irreplaceable. But God has poured more of His healing into our lives through this fur-covered blessing. And I don’t believe in coincidence.
I may never fully understand the way that God moves in my life or the life of my friend.
But I am so glad that He does.