Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Foot In Mouth

Eiledon begged for a dog for months on end. She was completely obsessed and relentless. I was clear I didn’t want a dog and more clear that she had no chance of getting one if she kept pestering me about it. With the help of her counselor, we convinced her to stop perseverating on the concept and, finally, she left off.

Within a few weeks of this welcome silence, I had a change of heart. Eiledon was keeping up her end of the bargain beautifully. And Dan had always wanted a dog. It wouldn’t hurt to just look into it.

Of course, Eiledon caught me browsing on line about dog breeds, rescue organizations and breeders. She immediately resumed her campaign to add a canine to the family. I warned her that going on and on about the dog would, once again, guarantee that we wouldn’t get one. She seemed to understand, but now that the possibility was actually out there, it was hard for her to keep her excitement in check. She asked almost daily when we’d be getting a dog.

“Eiledon,” I said, “I’ve put in an application to the Midwest Animal Rescue Society (MARS). They’ll review the information and let us know when there’s a dog available who would be a good fit for our family.”


“When there’s a dog available.”


“Honey,” I said, “you just need to relax and take it as it comes. If we’re meant to have a dog, the right dog will come along at the right time for our family.”

Now, between my Lutheran upbringing and 12-step lifestyle, I do believe that God works through coincidences and serendipities to provide life opportunities. But I’m not quite sure I believed my own simplistic statement. Lots of times in life things that seem like God’s divine intervention turn out to be my own ego-driven will trying to fit things to my own comfort. Bottom line: I’m not God and can’t predict what will happen in the future.

So I figured my neat little platitude put an end to the subject and I wouldn’t have to deal with getting a dog one way or the other.

And God laughed.

Months passed and we were at the cabin in Michigan. I was still thinking about getting a dog, but hopeful that it just might never come to pass. Eiledon’s pestering became more intermittent and I stopped waiting for MARS to get back to me about a good match for our family.

One morning, as I was sitting on the dock, my cell phone rang. It was Dan. His colleague at the Twins ticket office, LeAnn, was a huge dog advocate and often fostered rescued dogs and strays. At the bar after a game the previous night, LeAnn had been talking about a puppy her brother had found wandering stray out in the country. They’d put an ad in the paper and put up signs, but no one claimed him. LeAnn was concerned because she was starting to grow attached to him, but already had two other dogs and couldn’t keep him. Dan mentioned that we were thinking about getting a dog and LeAnn jumped all over it, singing the praises of this dog and expressing gratitude that he might go to Dan and his family.

I asked Dan about the dog. Male, smaller—“I can’t remember the breed” he said—not yappy, fairly house-trained, unnamed.

Sounded good. I had wanted a bigger dog and an older dog, but I was willing to be flexible, I thought.

The right dog at the right time for our family. I was the one who’d said it. And here he was.

As it turns out, the dog was a miniature pinscher—a toy breed, tiny, yappy, jumpy, in need of a lot of exercise (see this blog entry) and everything I didn’t want in a dog. My kids fell instantly in love with him, of course, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The right dog? The right time? Really? Could I say that with real acceptance?

It was at church the next week that I got my answer. I told the story of our adoption of this little Min Pin and quoted my words to Eiledon. The right dog at the right time for our family. It was my pastor who exclaimed, “Rebekah! That’s not how it works!”

Rather taken aback by his response, the answer came to me in a flash. “Well,” I said, “just because it doesn’t look quite the way I want it to look doesn’t mean God wasn’t involved.”

And there it was. Maybe it didn’t seem like this was the right dog for me. But, darn it, I’m having to learn patience and tolerance, I’m getting more exercise than I have in years, and I have to have the humility to accept that I’m not the one in charge: I can’t just flippantly rattle off assumptions about God’s will and then expect God to follow my plan.

To paraphrase an old cliché, “You get what you pray for.”

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