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Sunday, September 8, 2013

When A Dog Teaches You To Love Better

It’s 3 am. I kneel down by the soft temporary pallet next to my bed. A steady “thump, thump, thump” of a tail greets me despite the pain it’s owner feels.  I lie down next to him, nose to muzzle. I run my hands over the long length of his small body. I whisper sweets nothings and then say “I am going to pick you up and take you outside.” As gently as I can I lift him up but still there is a whimper. Cradling him in my arms we head down the small hall, past the kitchen and out the back door. It’s warm outside. Eighty five degrees at least. There are only the crickets, I hope, to keep us company. Once back inside I sit him down next to the water dish offering a bit of cool refreshment. He takes a few reserved laps and then looks up at me with his warm brown eyes. I carry him back to his bed for a few more hours rest. Soon I hear the soft snoring that generally keeps me awake but now, I find it oddly comforting. It is something altogether more pressing that keeps sleep from me. A heaviness deep down inside. I find myself praying true, heartfelt prayers in which I plead for healing, for more time. 

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(Franzie will not leave his brother’s side.)

It’s early December, 2005. My teenage daughter sits next to me at the computer as we scroll through the pages of “Petfinder”. We feel an odd mix of heartbreak and anticipation at the sheer volume of dachshunds offered. After awhile I leave her to start dinner. After a time I return to the office. She smiles and says, “Here’s the one. Oh that face! And look, his name is Norman. So you know he’s a good man.” I snort. I am sure that the dear dad of my heart would be overjoyed at the prospect of having a dog named after him. “You know, we would HAVE to change the name.” I reply. She sort of waves her hand in agreement. I can see in her mind it’s settled. The choice has been made. It doesn’t matter that the dog is located at a shelter over two hours away.

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A few days later, on a Friday, I find myself buckling my three year old toddler into his car seat. It happens to be his dad’s birthday. We are about to make a two hour drive to Tucson to see about a dog. Prior to the journey my husband and I had filled out several pages of pre adoption paperwork. I had been informed by the devoted dachshund couple who run the rescue shelter that there are several dogs available. This statement makes my heart hurt the entire way. How will I choose? After a long drive filled with cheerios, juice cups and sing along songs I finally turn down a dirt road and end up in front of a well worn modular home. I hesitate to even get out of my vehicle. But, I’ve come this far. I brush the crumbs off my sons overalls and head up the makeshift set of wooden stairs.

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Inside I find a clean and tidy, albeit well loved space. After a few minutes the gentleman says “Why don’t you sit down on the ground and I will open up a few cages.” So I sit on the threadbare brown shag carpeting with my son right next to me. The cage doors are opened and a massive whirl of fur and excited yapping ensues. My son claps his hands in delight. Most of the dogs rush over to the gentleman or his wife. Save for one flea infested specimen. He slowly walks over to us and lays his head on my sons lap. “Oh, that’s Norman.” the wife informs me.

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Norman had been found in the open dessert. They estimated he had been dumped out in the harsh climate at least two weeks prior given his appearance. He was near starvation and had a host of ailments to include worms. The admirable shelter workers said, “You may want to select a dog with fewer problems.” I looked at the dog on my son’s lap and kindly replied “I am not leaving without this dog”. I then withdrew the new leash and collar I had purchased from my purse along with $300 dollars. As far as I was concerned this caring couple deserved it. It was quite evident they weren’t rescuing dachshunds as a get rich quick scheme.

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Later that afternoon my daughter returned home from school and saw the emaciated prize I had brought home. She was delighted. I told her how, in essence, the dog had picked us and that his name was Norman. She flashed me a “See, I told you” look and then quickly returned her attention to the dog. It was truly love at first sight. No online dating site had ever produced a better match.  I was happy for my kids and that evening saw joy in my husbands eyes.  He named our new dog “Rudi” after a favorite German soccer player.

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I myself remained a bit reserved in my affection for Rudi. Although, it was hard not to smile when I would make even the short journey to the mailbox only to return to happy fits of delight which included frantic dancing and tail wagging fit to greet the Queen of Sheba. Was it to be like this every time I wondered? I sort of began to understand the bumper sticker “Lord, let me be the person my dog thinks I am”.

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Shortly after Christmas I returned home from a morning of grocery shopping. I began the back and forth monotony of unloading the bags from the trunk of the car into the house. My movements were closely followed by a seven pound pup with a jaunty step. It was on the last trip to the car that I heard the snarling before I saw the dogs. As I turned I saw two pit bull, shepherd mixes, a good 60 to 80 pounds apiece, heading straight for me, out for blood. I literally only had time to scream. My sausage hero ran straight for the dogs barricading himself between them and me. Their attention was duly diverted. Again and again the larger male would pick up my pup, shake him and fling him aside like a toy. Yet my champion would pick himself up and go back for more. Finally the owner of the terror twins got ahold of the vicious dogs. I was left with a wounded warrior and a small crack created within the ice surrounding my heart.

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Yes, it’s an old story. I rescued him. He rescued me. Blah, blah, blah. But it was more than that. I had never experienced such unconditional love.  Some might say, “Oh that can’t be true, what about….” No! Period. I had never before been the object of such affection, such devotion. It changed me. He changed me. For the better.

So as my Rudi battles another bout of disc degeneration, common in doxies due to their long backs, it is easy to carry him from room to room so he will not go searching for me. Eager to lay at my feet. It is easy to love him. No matter the hour. No matter the task.

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It doesn’t escape me that I am getting just a tiny glimpse of just how much God loves us.


“But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown His love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us—nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:37-39

In lieu of a comment, may I humbly ask that you offer a prayer of healing for my sweet Rudi? We are ever so thankful for your love and prayers.


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

What a beautiful post Laura!! I know how much you love your fur babies! And after the 'teeth' story I told you yesterday, you know I love mine too! LOL!!! Your fur babies are just beautiful!!!!

Calypso In The Country said...

Thanks for sharing such heartfelt moments with us. You had me in tears - I love to hear stories of owners and their pets. Their love for us really is unconditional and it's amazing how we find special places in our hearts for them! Now that we have had our golden retriever, Rosie for the past year and a half, I couldn't imagine our home without her. Pets truly are a blessing. Enjoy those special moments. Have a wonderful week!

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

God bless sweet Rudi. They get into our hearts and have such a strong hold. How sweet his brother lays with him. Hope for healing

Something Nice and Pretty said...

Praying...I'm a dog lover too!

Denise said...

Laura, I will pray for you, your family, and your precious, loyal Rudi.

This post made me cry; it really hit home today because our beloved Scottish Terrier, MacDuff, is in the last season of his long life. He has lived longer than any Scotty we've had in the past, and we are so attached to him. He has liver problems, for which he takes medicine daily and monthly, but he's going through a bad spell right now, and we're just now sure which way it will go. I absolutely agree with you that these dogs, God's creatures, do give us a glimpse of His unconditional love for us. Praying for Rudi.


Denise at Forest Manor

Cindy said...

Tears in my eyes...prayers in my heart for Rudi, you (his mom) and family.

Liz Hockamier said...

I love it when I read that others love their fur babies as much as my family loves ours. We mostly get a lot of flack from the rest of our family about how much we spend and how we pamper our older kitties... But I truly feel that they are God given gifts for us to love and care for. Sweet Rudi is the same. :)

So well said!

Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME said... know I love dogs and rescues are the best!

martinealison said...

Bonjour chère amie?

Je ne peux que prier fort pour votre cher Rudy. Je comprends votre ressenti.
J'ai eu de gros chagrins causés par la disparition de mes chers amis à quatre pattes. Ils me manquent tant encore. Icarus mon dernier dalmatien, né ce 12 mars dernier essaie de combler ce grand vide. C'est une nouvelle page de la vie qui s'est ouverte avec lui et c'est bon car il est si mignon, si affectueux. J'en suis folle. Je passe tellement de temps avec lui, il faut l'éduquer, que je ne parviens pas à peindre comme je le voudrais, mais l'amour pour lui est si grand !
Je vous envoie plein de bisous et pleins de caresses à votre toutou.

Blackberry Lane said...

Prayers for precious Rudi.

Carol said...

This was such a sweet and tear-inducing post, Laura. We are cat-parents, and love our little "rescue" and could not agree more! My heartfelt thoughts are with your little Rudi.

Bloggymom said...

What a sweet pup!! Hope your pup gets to feeling better soon.

openid said...

Oh Laura, {You made me cry.}
You know I adore Rudi. I will certainly whisper a prayer that he is soon back to himself.
I love that last picture!
Your Friend,

April Dunlap said...

Yes. Precious pup he is.
Prayers said. Isn't it wonderful our God knows even when the sparrows fall? Bless you friend for your tender heart.

Kelley said...

Dearest Heavenly Father, Creator of all good gifts,

Please comfort sweet Rudi today and his four-legged and two-legged family members. Ease Rudi's physical pain and his family's emotional aches and pains on Rudi's behalf. I plead the precious Blood of Jesus over him and ask you to heal his body. You alone are able.

In Jesus' name I ask these things,

Emily said...

I am a little teary eyed. What a lovely story about an admirable dog and his wonderful family. Sending a healing prayer for Rudi. We love our "found" and adopted pets too! Hugs

black sabeth said...

i am literally sobbing. i just want my little fur nugget.


Praying and crying...

Charlene said...

Precious baby, story, photo.... Thanks for sharing!

sandy said...

I will pray if I can stop crying. You write so beautifully about your beloved Rudi. Thank you so much for sharing.