Ever the optimist, I welcomed a puppy into our family last week—a little mutt that we named Grace.
There are many definitions of ‘grace,’ but I’ve always identified grace as a divine intervention that leads (or even carries) us in the direction we are meant to go. Sometimes through grace, it seems there is a much needed infusion of strength, or joy. I’ve always associated grace with the ‘unexpected’ gifts in life.
It seemed fitting to name our new ‘bundle of joy’ Grace, because we wanted a puppy for quite some time. Then, out of nowhere she appeared and was ‘free to a good home.’ Just a politically correct way to say ‘Free to ANYBODY foolish enough to take a puppy home.’ Which suited my budget just fine.
Little Grace is supposedly a Lab and German shepherd mix—among other things. She was in need of medical attention and there was talk of her litter being sent to a shelter. She sealed her fate when she emerged from the pack and marched up to inspect us with her soulful eyes. There was no way I was leaving without her. The kids and I named her before we hit the door. Before I could think too hard, we hopped into the car and drove off with her safely snuggled in my son’s arms.
“Mom,” he said, “I think she has fleas…”
We were barely down the street! I glanced at her in the backseat just in time to see a flea scamper across her forehead. Ugh. It took me a split second to dial the vet and arrange to stop there on the way home. My ‘Free’ puppy quickly became $160.00. With much more to follow, I’m sure…
She is a little doll. She is cuddly, affectionate, and loves to play. We are beyond thrilled to have her. So far, anyway.
I’ve raised quite a few puppies. Or at least enough to know that we are in the honeymoon phase—that ALL puppies are wonderful in the beginning. And that the honeymoon tends to be short-lived.
My last German shepherd was a wonderful puppy, until I decided to take a part-time job. His irritation was obvious, because I returned home each day to a single vertical blind plucked off the track. I soon gave up and bought inexpensive curtains when it became impossible to camouflage his destruction. There was an incident where he consumed a whole pizza out of the box—without disrupting the box on the counter. We assumed that somebody else had been a pig, until we compared notes and realized that the dog had a pizza party. After a few trying months, he was the Perfect dog for almost 10 years.
Six years ago, I put a Golden Retriever puppy under the Christmas tree. A few weeks later he snuck chocolate and I was forced to induce vomiting. Unfortunately, the barfing scared him so badly that he ran circles around the INSIDE of the house. He evaded the kids and I until he had christened most every room on the first floor of the house—A house we had recently built. One of his favorite puppy activities was to grab toilet paper from the wall-mounted roll and tear through the house, unraveling it as he went. He constantly shredded paper—to the point that my son once fed him his homework to avoid doing it. (I photocopied the pieces to re-create the homework). The dog is still so terrified of thunderstorms that he weasels his 85lb body into my bed and army crawls under my pillow. This takes me from a supine and blissful slumber, to nearly a sitting position, as he does not FIT under my pillow! He swims in the lake (ponds, streams, puddles, too), has been known to ride on sleds, and generally lives life with abandon. I’d love to say he is the Perfect dog, but that would be a lie. He is the most lovable of companions and we couldn’t imagine not having had him as part of our family.
Another doggie debacle—The children and I went to a pumpkin patch and came home with a puppy. A little mutt with funny markings and only half a tail who needed a home. Though a good boy, he tended to annoy my daughter. At one point, she said to me, “Mom, why couldn’t you have been a good parent, like all the other Mom’s and said NO?” Apparently, it was my duty to nix the dog that she begged for? We never did get a pumpkin that fine fall day…
There have been quite a few dogs over the years…and now there is Grace. I’m hoping she lives up to her name and proves to be a gift, though I am smart enough to understand that naming her Little Hellion, Rascal, or even Trouble might have been more appropriate. It is too soon to see the downside, because she has thus far brought the children and I so much joy. I know that dogs invite disruption into our lives—but they also add warmth and happiness to a home. Already, Grace has brought out the kind and gentle side of the children and I—the parts of us that are patient and nurturing.
This week has been one of giggling children, of friends hanging out to play with the puppy. Of finding several teenage boys engaged in heavy XBOX play—with a tiny puppy curled up between them. Of happening upon my daughter engrossed in a book, with little Grace collapsed on her shoulder snoozing. The children (and their friends) have stepped up to care for her without being asked. My teenage daughter was up before 6am yesterday because the puppy was crying in her crate. She quietly closed both her brothers and my bedroom doors—and handled the mornings ‘puppy duty’ graciously and without being asked to do so.
Little Grace is certainly bringing out the best in us all. And she has thus far been the Perfect puppy. I know that chaos is looming, but I always tend to view a glass as half full—to find the upside, even when I need to look hard for it.
And really, why not hope for the best?