“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
—Josh Billings (a.k.a. Henry Wheeler Shaw; humorist and lecturer)
It was 8 years ago this past August.
It was the summer when our lives fell apart.
The year when as a mother, I realized what it was like to carry the world of worry, guilt and shame on my shoulders.
To carry burdens that even to this day I haven’t been able to lose.
Life was going on like it always had. The busyness of summer was going full-force. The constant coming and going. The days at the pool, the nights at the baseball field, the preparations for my daughter to start kindergarten.
Right in the middle of our controlled chaos, is when our oldest daughter, a teenager at the time, came home from spending the day with friends, to tell us about a puppy that was going to be killed by a boy she knew from school, if he didn’t find a home for her.
I knew how dramatic she could be. I knew the lengths she would go to get her way, and I wondered if she was stretching the truth just to get me to cave in.
I didn’t want that mutt. Plain and Simple. I already had a puppy that I was planning to buy. In fact that weekend we were traveling to go pick out the one we wanted.
See my furbaby, I loved, died that summer. I was so devastated that I wanted another dog not only by the same breeder, but by the same mother.
In other words, I just wanted my furbaby back!
And to our surprise, our daughter let it go.
But when the weekend arrived, the world had other plans for our lives. The unthinkable happened. Our life as we knew it was shattered. For privacy of my family, I cannot go into details. All can I say is our children were victims of something so evil and not of this world. I let a monster dressed as a normal person in my front door, in my safe place, in my heart.
That was the day my world fell apart.
That was the day, as a parent I had failed.
That is the day, that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
I don’t know how to explain the hell we were experiencing. But God said it perfectly when he stated that the enemy is here to Kill, Steal and Destroy.
After that, I lost my faith in God. I was so mad, so angry. How could a God who loved us so much let my family experience such hardship? Such agony? Such pain and evil?
The next couple days were a blur, as everyone’s life continued on, but our life seemed to stop. Family was at a loss. They didn’t seem to know what to say, how to respond, or even how to feel. My children were traumatized.
Nightmares set in, appetites stopped and there was no laughter to be heard.
About that time, our daughter came to me again and said, “Mom, they are really going to kill the puppy if they can’t get rid of it today.”
I thought about it for a minute, and this is what came to my mind, I couldn’t stop the evil from happening to my family, but I could spare the life of this sweet puppy. I don’t know how to fix the brokenness that my family is feeling, but maybe I could help the puppy feel loved and wanted.
I decided at that moment that we would take in the puppy, soon to be named Lola.
That night as my two small children slept on a pallet of blankets in my bedroom floor, that sweet black and white bundle we called Lola, slept peacefully in between them. It was almost if nothing had happened, that our life was still normal, that we didn’t have this ache in our heart for just one moment.
My hubby and I stood in that doorway and watched that precious moment and those innocent children until I had to turn and walk away.
As the pain returned to my chest, and the tears started to freely flow once more, all the memories from the past several days came flooding back. I hated being in the house, I hated the smells I thought I smelled, I hated the sounds that played in my mind.
We made the decision to put our house for sale and move in with my dad before school started back for the summer. I know for that time, it was the right thing to do. I think we just needed to be with family who could make us feel secure and protected.
Since my dad lived in a different school district, I had to drive the kids to school every morning, then I would head to our house to de clutter, do yard work, or anything to keep me busy and to help get ready to sell the house. I would bring Lola with me everyday. She would walk along side of me wherever I went. She found out real quick how to get through the fence to the cow pasture, something I quickly put a stop to.
But day in and day out, it was Lola and I, alone at the house, where I would yell, cry and scream for the pain I was feeling, but she would just look at me with those big brown eyes letting me know she understood.
She understood it wasn’t her I was yelling at. Lola understood it wasn’t her fault for the tears I cried. I don’t know how, but she just understood.
I can remember how she would crawl in my lap, lick me on the face and give me nothing but a pure and innocent love.
Over the next few weeks, Lola helped each one of us move forward with our life. She was our joy when our life was dark, she was our laughter when we were filled with tears, she was our hope that somehow we would be okay.
It soon became very clear that Lola was very attached to me. But how could we not bond after all the hours we spent together, all the raw moments she shared with me, it was bound to happen at some point. I often thought to myself, how could this little puppy be making my life better? How could her presence make me believe that the storms would pass when no words anybody said to me made me feel that way.
After several months, we decided to go back home. The kids needed to be around their own things. So we packed our bags and moved from my father’s house back home. It wasn’t easy for any of us, but I think it was extremely worse for me because I carried the guilt and shame on my shoulders. The guilt I couldn’t shake, the shame of not knowing the true colors of people. But Lola was the one constant always at my side.
I slipped into a deep depression from carrying too much burden around with me. Lola would lay right beside me on the bed, or cuddle with me on the couch. That is when I realized she was my protector. She was not going to leave me. She was not going to let me go through my darkness alone. She was placed in this life for me. She was sent here to watch over me.
As I sit here and type, with tears streaming down my face, Lola is right beside me. Watching me with her big brown eyes, letting me know that she is not leaving me, she is my forever friend.
I was thinking back to when I realized that Lola’s presence made me feel like life would get better, when nobody else could.
And then I got it.
See I was so mad at God. So angry and hurt. And people? Well, I didn’t trust anyone anymore.
God knew I wasn’t running to him for safety and love.
God knew I was running as fast as I could the other direction.
And he also knew that I would not let just anyone into my life. I had built walls. I was protecting myself from anymore hurt and shame. But a dog? Did God know that I needed someone in my corner. An angel perhaps?
At that moment it all became clear. Lola was sent for me. She was sent to show me joy, and love and how to live again. She was sent to protect me during the dark days, because they became very dark, she was sent to be my best friend. She was sent to do something no human could do, to love without restrictions, to love without judgement and to love without fear.
A love so innocent and pure. A love that we all long to know and experience. The love of God!
I have done my best through the years to give her a good life. There has been times when life got busy and I would feel like I was neglecting her, but she never let it show. There was a time when I was in full time ministry and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time at home. I missed Lola and I know she missed me, but she loved me unconditionally anyway.
Lola has traveled with us, camped with us, been a mommy to all baby kittens we have ever had.
She has a heart full of compassion. Yes, she is a dog. But yet, Lola is so much more.
I know that Lola’s time on earth is limited, just the same as any of our time is. She has developed some health issues in the past few years, that make me worried that she is going to leave me soon.
I’m not ready. But then again, are we ever ready to lose a love?
I fear the day when it’s time for her to leave me and for her soul to reach another hurting person. I know there will be a void in my heart that has only been filled by her. She filled the hole in my heart with love, but she will also leave a hole when she is gone.
Some might say, she’s just a dog. I understand your way of thinking, I really do.
But see, since Lola, my dogs have become more than just a pet.
They have become more than just an animal that when you decide you don’t want to take care of anymore, you can easily give away.
They have become my family.
Now I am an advocate for animals. I am their voice.
I support many rescues and do my part to spread the knowledge of Adopt Don’t Shop. I want the world to know that a dog is so much more than a dog, they are a friend, a companion and a protector.
I see my life turning out differently if I had not met Lola. I see myself still running from the world, my faith and my God. But my life turned out the way God had planned. Maybe not the conventional way, most would say, but God knew what he was doing.
He was able to put love and compassion back in my heart, joy and laughter back into my life, and faith and trust back into Him.
All because of my, Life with Lola.
Today I will be thankful for all the paw prints on my floor and the slobbery kisses on my face and the hair on my clothes. For there will come a day when there is far too much room in our bed and these days will be profoundly missed. Author Unknown
Miranda, is a Crunchy, Country Mama giving her look on a Homemade Life of Homeschool, Good Eats, (Mis) Adventures, and Living Grace-Filled Everyday @GraceandGravy with a side of life! Miranda has been married to her sweet hubby for 16 years and a home school mama to 2 kiddos at home. She loves her four-legged, fur babies and they make her life complete. Miranda is passionate about Guatemala Missions, Early Farmhouse Life/Decor, and learning to be a Self-Sufficient Homesteader!
Linking up with Michelles weekly pet challenge