It is a wet, cold rainy evening. April showers to bring May flowers, if we are so blessed. My husband sits in the entry way to our house with a wet dog at his feet that keeps passing gas and trying to escape the confines of her clearly defined boundaries. I come downstairs after stories and prayers and I can smell her, our Mini-Australian Shepherd, in all her doggy glory.
Lucky spends her days in our backyard. She has a lovely inside kennel in a building next to our house that has room for her to play, and at night she sleeps in our basement. Through the winter, she was an inside dog, but now that spring has sprung, she has been stationed to her outdoor posting, only to come indoors at night. The kids have told me several times that this is inhumane, but I tell them that God never created dogs with a doghouse attached. I think dogs like being outside. And apart from the one night this spring when Husband left the door open a crack and Lucky found her way upstairs to our bedrooms and Daughter’s slippers, she has not really been allowed to play inside.
Until tonight, that is.
Moments ago, the four children, my husband and I, corralled Lucky and plunked her in a blue Rubbermaid tote filled halfway up with warm water. She looked to be in a daze. It’s been a while since she saw clean water. Husband poured water over her back while the tub quickly changed from clear liquid to brown, in short order. I held her while Husband went to dump out the first round and then fill up the tub for a second. In she went again. This time she was not so stunned. She wanted out. We persisted, and she got the rinse and towel rub down. Cleaner, she stood and shook while I cleared all hands on deck from the vicinity.
The children were enthralled. Cameras were flashing everywhere, and one said she would be writing about this tomorrow in writer’s workshop. Mommy is not so excited about the whole process as this means indoor dog watching this evening instead of a movie. Ah…such is the price for the love of a dog.
When we love, we make sacrifices. I do not love dogs, I’m not even always sure I like dogs, but I love my family. Our kids wanted a dog for years. I could not find any good reason to have a dog when I was still in the process of potty training one, shuttling another off to Kindergarten and running mid-week treks to extra-curricular activities for the other two. Who has the time? Precisely. No one does. But if you wait for the days when you have the time, your kids are already grown up and you are passed the point of no return.
So, we bought a dog.
As I picked her forty pound wet body up off the couch and placed her on the floor, I turned to my husband and said, “This shows you that I do have a heart.” And if allowing a wet, smelly dog lounge around in your entryway doesn’t say I love you to the rest of the family, I don’t know what does.
Lucky does have a corner in my heart, albeit a small one. She might grow on me in time. I do enjoy taking her for walks and watching the children run with her across the lawn. When I see her playing Frisbee with my husband and jogging along beside my youngest down a path through the woods, my heart swells with joy and love for the lot of them, and a little for her too. I see the joy she brings them. I cannot help but open my heart to allow room for the “like” of a dog. We are not quite at the love stage yet, she and I. But it’s a start.
Although rainy nights spent with a wet, smelly dog are a stretch for any self-proclaimed perfectionist and neat freak, I feel myself stretching beyond what is comfortable and easiest for me. I want things just so. Dogs don’t usually make allowances for neat freaks. But they do stretch the hearts of curmudgeons. I think my heartstrings need the exercise tonight, and so I said yes to the dog.