I Didn’t Want a Dog That Sheds

I will be honest. I did not always LOVE dogs.

[Funny fact: Loving dogs was a prerequisite for anyone who wanted to date my husband…somehow he still agreed to our first date. And the rest as they say, is history.]

Not that I didn’t like dogs at all. I just preferred them keeping their distance. I did not want them in my face…I grew up with the notion that a dog must know its place, and that’s NOT on the couch! I also hated the sorrow I felt whenever I saw one suffer. Better to keep them all far away to protect my clothes from stray hairs and my heart from breaking.

[Much like human relationships for some people?…I don’t know.]

Thankfully, along the line I DID fall in love with dogs all over again. It was perhaps due to meeting just the right kind of dog (the Italian Greyhound, Kiwi, to whom my husband belonged) at the right time. One that steals your heart because she knew just when to cuddle alongside you when you’re in the most tense hour of your life and in need of some sign from God that all is going to be okay.

greyhound with blue blanket
Kiwi snuggling up.

Yes, I believe He uses four legged friends in our lives. He has done so with me time and time again.

But back to the dogs and I.

So, I fell in love with dogs, wanting to save all of them, adopting another Italian Greyhound, Skooby, crying in exasperation when she was a puppy and chewed everything and refused to listen. I knew nothing about teaching her manners. I DO NOT like being out of control and with Skooby I seldom was.

brown dog on grey couch
Skooby being…Skooby

Here’s where you can start seeing how He used dogs in my life: I só had to learn to let go of wanting to control everything in life. I had to realise days will not always go according to plan. And that it’s okay. I won’t combust.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve come to love our dogs – and most others – with all my heart. I would kill for them. I admit I often organise my life around them. I used to laugh at others who call their dogs their children, but now I know I’m in denial if I don’t fall somewhat into that group. We call ours our Oomans…not quite human, but close, right?

But I still have limits!!! I still want control!

brown dog
Skooby…my Ooman

We knew at some stage our old Kiwi – the one who originally softened my heart towards her species – would pass away, because she was at least 14 years old (it’s hard to know age of rescue animals you don’t adopt as puppies). We also knew we would have to get another pooch as a friend for Skooby.

My words about the new adoption: ‘I just don’t want a dog that sheds!‘.

That was basically my only – passionately expressed – condition.

Note: if you didn’t know, greyhounds are the most fabulous dogs with great characters and they don’t shed much. No hair on clothes, people! Awesome!

And so Kiwi’s last days came. We had to make the heart wrenching decision to let her go after a stroke that left her not quite herself anymore. We had no idea if she was suffering, so we decided her passing on is the most merciful for her.

Grey dog
We shall never forget you, Kiwi.

It was tough. That dog was therapy for both my husband and I in various stages of our lives.

So, which Ooman next?

Enter: Bonnie.

Now let me be clear, we had our list of specifications. We first wanted another greyhound, but they’re scarce and we wanted a rescue animal, not a puppy from a breeder.

So, what other type of dog will work?

We had size limitations, because our doggy-door is only that big.

And we wanted a playful one to help stimulate Skooby, our 3-year old hyper-active woof, while we work.

I wanted a softhearted dog – even though Kiwi can’t be replaced, I knew the value of having an intuitive dog that helps you through the tough days.

And then there’s the hair. That’s a no-brainer.

Right?

No.

We entered the last kennel at Save-a-pet to have a look at her friend who was a small mixed-breed, (who didn’t really shed much). Bonnie showed her timidness and almost fear just for seeing new people in her space.

Hubby went to sit and play with the friend and this gave Bonnie a chance to relax. And when she relaxed, she played. And then she placed her beautiful brown face in my husband’s hands and looked into his eyes. This sounds so cliche…but it’s so true! Yup, dogs steal our hearts.

She was bigger than we wanted, but not TOO huge.

Did we have a winner?

I won’t bore you with the details. We did consider taking the other one. And we had to have a meet-and-greet with Skooby…bla bla bla.

But yes, a few hours later Bonnie came home with us.

Beagle in car
Bonnie…in the car before she was named

Guess what…SHE SHEDS.

two dogs in car
Skooby doesn’t know what to make of Bonnie yet.

Am I still alive? Yes

Did I combust finding hair on the couch? No

Did I have to rearrange my life again, doing more grooming than I ever thought I would with a dog? Yes

Do I mind? Strangely, NO.

Life is more important than me wanting an effortless life.

Giving shelter to a lost soul – even a dog – has more purpose than making life easy for myself.

Finding a dog that is an answer to my very earnest prayers in all except for one area, is still a miracle.

dog
Bonnie crawling onto your lap…stealth mode…one moment you’re petting her, the next moment you’re holding her. ‘Just a little more love, please…’

She has the sweetest nature that steals anyone’s heart the moment you meet her. She settled in so quickly. (another answer to prayer after being traumatised by raising a puppy haha…yes, I’m a little dramatic, but there’s truth in that statement.)

And oh, how she and Skooby can play! It took a few days, but I think they call each other friends now.

man, woman, two dogs
At the shelter…another pooch found a home.

And she’s OUR Ooman.

But here’s what I also realised: my immense need to be in control and make perfect decisions in life, needed some honing. My desire to have perfect situations that lead to the best outcomes in life, is a bit unrealistic. My fear of failing in situations if I’m not properly prepared, is now unfounded.

two dogs on couch
She quickly made herself at home.

I thought I would be much more irritated and upset with a shedding dog. Remember, this is the girl who didn’t want anything to do with dogs for years, because of various practical and emotional reasons. I protected myself from all those possibilities.

I think God uses many ways to break down our walls and make us more ‘whole’ individuals; He shows us what we’re capable of, so we fear the future less.

Some may think me daft for making so much of simply getting another dog. But I had a few issues…and now, if I can live with – and LOVE – a dog that sheds, I feel more confident about facing other trials and tribulations…other situations I’ve comfortably avoided in life…

He did not give us a spirit of fear.

He’s slowly but surely showing me the truth of that; and as a bonus I got the best Ooman ever.

dog on couch
Sweet little Bonnie

Thanks Hubby, for introducing me to dogs. You, God and Oomans make a great team in turning me into the human I’m supposed to be in this world.

Fear vs Fearful

Fear vs Fearful

Here’s the power of words: It helped me understand myself better…and my God better.

Years ago I was a scared girl, inexperienced and doubting myself in everything. Thanks to amazing friends that God sent across my path, I soon conquered some of my inadequacies. Why? Because they helped me verbalize my thoughts and I started writing them down. Understanding my thoughts made it easier to deal with them.

Okay – there’s a whole psychological discussion we can have about the value of writing and speaking about your emotions and thoughts. But this isn’t what this blog is about.

Words also have the power to help us understand our Maker better. And today I realised the importance of understanding more sides to Him. The more I know and experience about Him and the more stories I have about Him in my life (words), the better it gets.

Examples:

  • He is the Lion, but also the Lamb
  • He is Love, but also justice and righteousness
  • He is understanding, but also expects certain things of us
Fear vs Fearful
Photo by Toni Oprea on Unsplash

Facing only one of these aspects can have us retreat from Him, or take liberty of His loving nature. But when we KNOW He is also the other, it adds a beautiful balance. To me it makes me want to know Him more…and become more like Him.

The process of discovery and putting words to what He does also helped me switch from simply being afraid (fearful) to fearing Him (the latter is the good thing we need to get to).

This Morning

This morning I read a passage that normally filled me with guilt and fear. Reading about how He got angry with the Israelites and sent other tribes against them is frightening. I don’t want Him to feel that way about me, right?

But something different happened in my soul this morning:

  • Reverence
  • Awe
  • Passion for righteousness

Why? Because of what I already know about Him.

This Past Year

I’ve had a very challenging year. Perhaps you’ve read some of my other blogs. But I can also say 2018 has been one of the best years. Why?

  • Because of how He guided me through dealing with loss and change
  • Because He sent people across my path whenever I needed them
  • Because He advised me
  • Because I saw Him help my loved ones

These experiences all got noted in my diary, the words plainly displaying my God’s characteristics. Did everything happen as I wished it would? No. But my God showed His power, care and foresight in sooooo many ways.

Result: I know Him to :

  • LOVE me
  • LOOK AFTER me
  • PROTECT me

Back to This Morning

Now I read about His wrath. He really got mad…and God is unchanging, so He still gets mad. Therefore, if I don’t listen, He will probably get mad at me too.

But looking from the perspective of this past year I know that what He chooses to do, say or feel towards my actions isn’t based on hate.

  • His actions are based on LOVE. If He prompts me to do something it’s because He LOVES the world and wants to LOVE the world through me.
  • When He tells me to become better tomorrow than I am today (more compassionate, less afraid, doing rather than simply talking), it’s because He’s LOOKING AFTER us on earth and He needs me to play my part. I signed up to be His ambassador on earth and that comes with certain expectations and requirements.
  • If He’s telling me to do this or not to do that, He’s probably PROTECTING me (and others) because He knows what’s coming.

These are characteristics I can FEAR, not BE AFRAID of.

Definitions

FEAR (in this context): To respect, revere and trust.

FEARFUL: Feeling or showing fear and anxiety.

Going Forward

Reading His words to the Israelites from this perspective, I pick up on passion for them, not simply being mad at them. He wished they would act differently for their own sakes and for the sake of the world. He had a plan and wanted to use them in it.

My God is not distant, apathetic or out for revenge. He is actively and passionately involved in our lives, for the better of us and humanity at large.

My feelings towards my God can be described with words of fear, but also of love and appreciation. This fills me with renewed passion to be the kind of believer He can use.

So I Got Bad News Yesterday

So I Got Bad News Yesterday

So, I got bad news yesterday.

bad news

It’s not a life or death situation, but close enough. It’s dire enough to leave me confused, disappointed, unsure.

Not unsure of Him – More than ever, I know He’s there, because He showed me His presence this past six months. So powerfully that I can’t lie to myself and say He hasn’t got this. He’s got this. Me. Us

But I’m sore. And alone because only I know how I deal with this. Others go through similar trials and survive. I will too. But my struggle will be unique based on my personality, values and experiences.

So I want to run to the place I always went to: My best friend. Only…I lost that friend this past year as well (not to death, only to choices), so that’s not an option. But I want to pick up the phone and find comfort and advice where I used to.

But God’s not letting me. And I realise: He has a different plan.

What He has in store for me is that He’s sending two of the best people I know into my life this week. He knew this was coming and two sources of infinite wisdom, grace, love and Godly insight…they’re on their way.

friends

They’re not my habitual go-to cry buddies. But I know they are fully geared for this job of helping me find whatever I need to get through this:

  • To see His perspective
  • Determine what I’m supposed to pray (as I’m so confused about His will for this situation)
  • To find comfort in a heavenly manner
  • To cry and use the Godly way of dealing with hurt and sadness

The person I wish was here may never be there for me again. But He knows what I need to work through this trial. And He already planned to send them to my city this week, even though they live far far away. He scheduled them into my calendar even before yesterday happened.

That’s how practical, caring and in control my God is.

So, thank You. For once again making plans I didn’t even knew were necessary.

You always provide…not in what I WISH I can get…but by giving what I really NEED.

I Don’t Need to See the Future; God Does

I Don’t Need to See the Future; God Does

So, today I’m preaching to myself. But I do hope this helps you as well.

I’m in an unplanned hole today. I did not expect to feel this alone, sad, dejected and tired. I was having a pretty good day yesterday. And then, all of a sudden ‘poof’…all my energy just seemed to go out of me. I don’t know where it went. I don’t know what pushed it out. I just know I arrived home from grocery shopping (happily I might add) and all of a sudden I could barely lift my arms. That’s how tired I was.

I don’t do tired. I don’t do weak. I don’t do complain. I wanted to get over it and just be fine again. But my body didn’t want to…so much that my mind couldn’t make it do what I wanted it to do.

So I had to surrender and spend the afternoon on the couch.

ben-white-194220-unsplash

Is this a bout of depression? is this physical? Yes, but also emotional, since I haven’t cried like this in a while. So I’m just going through the stages until I feel myself again.

No, I’m still not 100%. But at least over the past few years I’ve learnt what I should do when life throws curve balls. For you it may be going for a run or reading a book or talking to a friend or painting. For me it’s writing. My diary is my refuge. That’s where I find God and where His voice becomes clearer when life seems to thunder over it.

So here’s my first piece of advice: When you realize you’ve been pushed past your limits, use the tools He gives us: Writing, singing worship songs, surrounding yourself with good people, the Word…whatever works for you.

So what did I find when I turned to my pen and paper? That’s what I need to share here. That’s what I need to proclaim so I don’t forget it; that the enemy can’t keep me down with a lie anymore. Because in my moments of utter fatigue, sadness and loneliness I keep thinking of what’s wrong and forget what is glorious.

In this bad moment I’m having I felt to just write about how He always provides and perhaps that’s my weapon for this moment. I’m thinking that by sharing this, reminding myself of what He is capable of, I’m fighting the negativity with the right words.

I seem to never plan my life very specifically. I would like to say that I know exactly where I’m going and what I’m going to have in 10 years’ time. But it never works out that way. I’ve taken steps of faith where I believe I’m inviting Him along on a journey with me. Somehow, the things I initiate never seem to work out. But what He starts always blossoms. So I want to proclaim the things He has brought to pass in my life.

  • I wanted to go overseas after school, but God suggested I stay right here in South Africa. What He kept me in this country for ended up being the best few years of my life.
  • 10 years ago He prompted me to move to the coast and write. I was too scared, I took a detour…but a decade later I’m living near the sea…writing. (I wish I listened earlier, but I’m thankful for His patience).
  • The friendship with my best friend disintegrated over time. Only in hindsight did I see how He positioned other friends in my life in the months leading up to it. He knew. He knew who I would need. He knew I needed a support system. Though I don’t know anything about my used-to-be friend anymore, I want to believe He’s doing the same for her. He loves us all and his long term plans are amazing.
  • I left one job for what I thought was to be my dream job. The company didn’t make it (long story), but 10 months before it went down He led me towards another job. I didn’t pray for that one (I didn’t even think it was necessary to pray for a job). But it’s perfect. It fits me like a glove. As I’m sitting here writing I realise all its facets suit my skills perfectly.I’m a ‘Jane-of-all-trades’. Not all jobs can keep all my interests entertained. This one does.

Here’s the bottomline: He knows. He cares. He plans (even if I don’t, and even if I do). His plan is always better.

I have more stories. I realize there are many of them. For now, this soothes my soul. I hope it does yours.

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Take care out there everyone. And share your story below if you have a glorious one. Remind yourself.