86: An Unexpected Blessing

86: An Unexpected Blessing

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog

An Unexpected Blessing

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.

~George Eliot

Bear arrived in our lives when our family was going through a very difficult time. Our schedules were hectic, our relationships strained, and our emotions guarded. The last thing we needed was a dog.

After much persistence from our daughter, my husband and I finally relented. Finding a dog which would meet our needs, however, would not be easy. Our son had always been very wary of dogs and our daughter suffered from asthma.

After seeing a puppy that belonged to a friend, my daughter was convinced this type of dog would be perfect for our family. After praying about it, we decided if the owner still had puppies available, we would get one. The puppies were located approximately one hundred miles from where we live, so my sister offered to pick out the puppy and deliver it to us. My only request was that it be a girl. I was surprised then, when she arrived with a boy.

Regardless, in a home filled with tension, Bear became a welcome distraction. Sensing our individualities, he began to reach out to us in different ways. To Matt, our son, he’d deliver his favorite toy, hoping for playtime. With Emily, our daughter, he’d take things from her room so she’d chase him. He’d steal a sock from my husband, only to return in a few moments flaunting his treasure. And, to me, he’d simply follow me around from room to room, or sit at my feet.

Recently, after an unusually frustrating day, my daughter asked, “Why are you nicer to Bear than you are to us?”

“Well let’s see,” I replied, “Bear doesn’t care what, or when I feed him, he doesn’t complain, he never talks back, and he’s always happy to see me.”

Even though my response was spoken out of frustration, it made me realize how we, as a family, had started to treat one another. In our hectic lives, we had begun to take each other for granted. We were so caught up in the world, and its acquisitions, we failed to appreciate the blessings God had already provided. Bear had become a welcome reprieve. He offered us the opportunity to feel loved and appreciated without placing large demands on us personally.

Later, as I considered Emily’s question, and my response, I thought of how Bear reacts to us—loving us individually, yet unconditionally. I thought of his inability to hold a grudge. A sharp word directed at him and he’ll scamper to his bed, where he’ll sit, head hung so low his nose touches the pillow. Once his name is called, however, he runs back, all is forgiven, and perhaps most importantly, forgotten. I considered how his contentment is based solely on the safety and love he feels from his family, unlike us, who often search for contentment in other ways.

I believe there are times when God hears our prayers, but rather than give us what we ask, He instead gives us what we need. I think this is the case with Bear. Although, I’d asked for a female dog, we were given a male. Still, I could never have imagined a better match for our family. God has used him to help bring a balance back to our lives. In fact, Bear has helped draw our family closer together. He has been used to teach us some valuable lessons about love—the giving and receiving. Bear has taught us that sometimes, a gentle touch, a kind word, or a smile is really all we need.

~Marcia Hodge

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