Let Us See the Tender Mercies
We have a dog. I’ll admit it; I didn’t want her. I used to be an animal person. I grew up on a dairy farm with cows, calves, goats, horses, cats, dogs, and sheep. I spent my summers riding a horse and pulling kittens around in a wagon. It was great and I loved animals.
Then, I had children.
Suddenly, friendly dogs at the park became a source of all-out panic attacks for my little kids, who, for some unknown reason, were terrified of dogs. They would get so panicky that they’d climb me like a tree and perch themselves on my shoulders. It wasn’t just dogs either. One of my sons even started screaming at a friend’s house when their kitten came wandering into the room. It was embarrassing.
With my children convinced that all animals with claws were going to eat them, taking care of my family seemed hard enough. I didn’t need a pet, too. I saw a dog or cat as one more being that wanted me to feed and clean up after it. I’ve got enough of that going on, thanks.
Okay, pets aren’t evil but I had come to loathe them simply because I couldn’t control my children’s responses to them.
When we began building our house, we also discussed getting a dog. I didn’t want one. But we now live in bear country. In fact, since moving in, we’ve seen bear droppings often. We knew we needed a dog that may deter a bear from coming around or would at least give us warning if one was nearby. Yet, we put it off. We said we’d get one in the spring or maybe after being in the new house for a year.
Did I mention I didn’t want a dog?
To make it more difficult, we had a long list of the qualities we wanted in our, as yet, unidentified pet. She needed to be friendly, but not too friendly, so she wouldn’t scare the kids; confident but not overly confident or aggressive; protective but not too protective. There was no dog in the world that was going to meet our long list of requirements.
Little did I know what was in store for us.
A few months ago, a friend contacted us about an abandoned dog in a nearby neighborhood. This dog’s next stop was going to be an animal shelter so we went to take a look. A lively, 2-year-old black lab that nearly pulled the man over in her haste to greet us was what we found. My boys, of course, were terrified and only one of my girls was brave enough to go near her.
Against my better judgment, we brought Maggie home. On the ride back to our house, she crawled all through the van while the boys screamed, making her way to the front sitting between the driver and passenger seats. She firmly planted herself and tried to crawl onto my lap. Chocolatey brown eyes won me over as I remembered my childhood dogs and how much I loved them. I still get teary thinking about them.
Everyone finds themselves going through a rough patch every now and then. We certainly have not had it as hard as some, but when we moved into our house, we were coming off a long stretch of hard stuff.
Life had been stressful for a long time. I was only beginning to feel that we were coming to some sort of normalcy…and then we were going to get a dog? What if she was awful? What if she ran off with all our shoes that we leave on the front porch? What if she pooped all over the yard? What if she bit the kids?!
I wasn’t sure I could handle or love a dog.
When we least expect it, we can find ourselves receiving a tender mercy. Who would have thought that our Maggie would be the tender mercy we needed? Tender mercies are something that you don’t necessarily ask for but, as it turns out, are exactly what you need to bring you comfort. It’s like a gift from God that you didn’t know you needed until you got it.
Ours was a dog.
She’s already protected my son and me from two feral dogs that wandered onto our property. When other animals are in the woods, she gets agitated and barks. It may be a squirrel, rabbit or deer but she gives us a warning. We need her now more than ever as we have a cougar in the area.
Our children love her. My youngest uses her as a chair and sometimes a pillow. She stays with the kids when they are outside, barks at them when they fight and picks berries off the bushes. Maggie is like a second mom except with sharp teeth and claws. Perfect.
She has more than filled every one of our crazy dog requirements.
A Lesson Learned
Maggie isn’t the first tender mercy I’ve experience, but she is the most recent. Tender mercies come when you’re not looking for them. They make you aware that God is mindful of you.
They can provide a reminder that, although we may be asked to do hard things, we need not do them alone. When I look at Maggie, I’m grateful. Her presence has been a delightful addition to our family. I didn’t know that she is what we needed.
I’m grateful that Someone else did.