Dogs can teach us a lot about life, and I’m finding that out with every day that passes.
We had no intentions of getting one when we got Rory, that’s for sure. Believe me, I’d tried. I kept telling my dad about my dream dog, who I’d already named, “Luke,” and had decided would be a Border Collie. Every time I told him about Luke and how great he would be, he’d just smile and say that was nice, “You can get him when you move out.” I knew it would be YEARS before I ever got a dog of any kind.
Then, one night, we went to the park with our family and friends for a BBQ. A family walked by with several black and white puppies. They stopped by our table and we had to pet them. We started talking with them a few minutes and holding the puppies, and becoming more attached with one in particular. She had an adorable face and just laid so sweetly and precious in my arms. We kept showing my dad, but he just kept nodding and hanging out with my uncle, as they flew their drones away from us.
The family still had a couple more puppies to go, so they decided to walk around the park, while we continued playing with our new friend. My dad eventually came over and we started toying with the idea of keeping it, but really we were not expecting to keep it all. Long story short, the family came back around and we told them we’d take her.
We hadn’t thought much about it at all and all of a sudden, my dad started telling my mom and I that as long as we were the ones taking care of it, we could take her. He just wanted no part of it. I suddenly wash’t so sure that it was a good idea. I had wanted a dog forever, but I started thinking about all of the work it was going to entail and all of the extra money it was going to cost. At the time, I had a boyfriend and had just applied for my first big girl job and wasn’t home much, so I started wondering if I was going to be home much to take care of her. But, we had already said ‘yes’ that we’d give her a try.
That night, after we packed up our evening at the park, we now had a dog and absolutely nothing else. We needed a bed for her, food, etc. Where was she going to sleep? How were our cats going to adjust to this new addition? We hadn’t thought about any of that. But, we now had a dog and it was time to figure it out. My aunt and uncle had a cage that they brought over and we picked up a food and water dish for the new doggy, that I had named Rory, after Rory Gilmore on “Gilmore Girls.” Do you see a theme here?
But, I digress. In the weeks to follow, Rory was a lot more work than I had ever imagined. I am not (or WAS not) a morning person, but was suddenly having to get up much earlier than I would have liked, at around 6:30 or 7 a.m. to take her out to go to the bathroom, which was about three hours before I’d have class. She was into everything, so we’d have to watch her, and I was just a little irritated.
Lesson #1- Don’t give up when something is hard, especially in relationships.
There were many times in the beginning when we just weren’t sure that it was going to work out after all. It was a lot of work, it was frustrating and we almost called the guy that gave her to us a couple times, to say that we didn’t want her anymore. And then one day, I’d had a long day or was just tired and decided to play with her for a little bit. That Sunday before (the day we’d gotten Rory) at church, our sermon had been on covenant relationships and being in a relationship and committed to that person, regardless of what hardships come up or the faults that each other might have. From the beginning, I’d had the mindset of getting rid of her. I didn’t see it as a “for the long haul” sort of deal. I thought about just getting through that week and that would be good enough to say I’d had a dog. So, that day in my backyard as we were playing and chasing each other around, I realized how much fun I was having, and I thought if we’d gotten rid of her or were to get rid of her, how much I would miss out on getting to see her grow up or have sweet moments like that one. I heard God whisper to my heart that we needed to keep her. I needed to either be all in or out, because I couldn’t keep living with that lukewarm sense of relationship, which also reflected in many areas of my life with the people who are in my life, as well as God. I needed to learn about commitment. Not every moment is going to be good, but you have to learn which relationships are worth going through those storms for.
Lesson #2- Learn when to let go.
Rory and I were playing tug with one of her rope toys in the backyard again, and she just simply would not let go. I kept trying to get her to give it to me, but she wouldn’t. I started thinking about how sometimes we’re like that with God. He wants us to give the rope over to Him, but we keep trying to get it back, because we think we can do it much better on our own. But, the whole time, He’s saying ‘Give it to me. Drop the rope at my feet and I will give you rest.’ If we would just give it to Him, we wouldn’t have to play a game of tug-o-war. It’s easier to just let it go, instead of holding onto something that is a lost cause. I also started thinking about how it can kind of compare to not asking for help. Our friends ask us if they can carry our load from time to time, but still we just keep holding on. Instead, we should surrender the "ball" and our need to control. It's okay to get help and to not have our hands on that specific thing 24/7.
Lesson #3- Childlike faith and wonder
Just like a child, Rory’s puppy-like way of doing things means that there is never a dull moment in life. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s worth it, when she’s being sort of a poop and you can’t get her to listen or do what you want. My dad immediately says no. He says kids are worth it, but makes a face when it comes to our little pup. That might be true. But, oh, I have so loved watching her try to eat bubbles when we blow them into the air or the ornery face she gets when she’s done something she knows she shouldn’t have. Or when she hears a noise and gets scared and runs behind me or my mom for safety, because we’re familiar and she knows she’ll be okay with one of us. She reminds me to have this simple way of thinking or rather to not overthink, but to simply do. As we get older and life beats us up more, we tend to make our situations more complicated than they need to be. She doesn’t worry about anything, she just simply is and lets things happen around her. Yes, her life is very different than a human, but the idea is still there to be excited about the little things and take life as it comes.
Lesson #4- Sometimes it feels like you’re chasing flies, but wait for the butterflies to come, that’s even better.
The flies are bad around our house this time of year and Rory loves to chase them, ‘round and ‘round, as she goes in circles trying to catch them, but never succeeds. Sometimes life is just like that - we chase the same problems, or even dreams, over and over again, when it just isn’t worth it. And even though the butterflies don’t come around often and she doesn’t catch those, she almost seems mesmerized by their beauty. That’s how we should be. Don’t chase the flies that are constantly going to be around, wait for the butterflies in those rare opportunities when they fly around.
Lesson #5 -Just because something is there, doesn't mean you have to grab it or take it every time. But, sometimes you have to go for it, just to see what becomes of it.
To add onto that last point, whenever Rory sees a reflection or a glimpse of a shine on the wall from my cell phone or my mom's watch, Rory gets excited and keeps staring, hoping (and determined) that she will see it again. Just because something is there, doesn't mean we necessarily have to go for it. That opportunity might look like the most exciting thing in the world, but it doesn't mean that it's going to lead us down the path that we're hoping for. At the same time, sometimes you never know until you try. So, you go for it and if it goes away rather quickly, then it just wasn't meant to be.
I’m sure there are many other things I’ve learned by having a dog, but those are the main ideas. I guess I’ve also learned that I’m not ready for children just yet, because even just having a dog is a whole lot more responsibility than I want on my own, because I don’t always have the time and attention to give. In difficult moments (especially with her acting crazy tonight), you can’t just hand them off to someone else when it’s too much. So, this is all very good practice. But, I will say that it has opened up my eyes and my world in a lot of ways. I believe that everyone has a purpose and a reason for being in our lives, and I don’t think our meeting with Rory was any accident. I believe that God put her in our lives as part of His bigger plan somehow. I went through some of the most challenging months of my life right after we got her, and somehow having a companion like her made it easier. She took my mind off the pain and stress. And no matter how irritated with her I can get at times, I still can’t help but smile or laugh when she’s driving me crazy or running around the house like a weirdo.