The Unlikely Teacher

Her soft, salt and pepper mixed schnauzer fur ruffled easily through my familiar fingers as I caressed her snuggled body lying in her favorite chair.

Her favorite blanket snuggled her small 15 year old body as I had placed it, hoping to let her know my heart. Time wasn’t on her side as Birthday number 15 had come and gone… But my heart just wanted a little more time…

Congratulations on the addition to your family!” announced the kennel owner as she poured the tiny squirming puppy into our arms, now 15 years ago.

I remember thinking, “Really lady? I think that’s maybe going a little too far? Yet I appreciated the sentiment.

Now 15 years later, our sweet girl has been all of that… and more.

Having had children and grandchildren I know the difference, “but one of the family” she has most certainly been, and still is… she’s still here.

For how long, I don’t know, but as a single tear snuck down my cheek, I realized I didn’t want to face another loss…. not now.

The past few years had been filled with different kinds of losses, including saying bye to my mom and dad as they left this Earth just 2 years apart… both too young…both too soon.

My mom had never been a fan of dogs. In fact, quite fearful, but she made friends with our China girl the last years before she passed away. Against everything she had ever been taught in her generation, she welcomed our little girl’s wet nose touching her gently on her knee under our family table at many a family gathering.

Mom would hold a small morsel of goodness between her petite fingers and quietly gave the OK for the quick nibble. Mom would always exclaimed how gentle our little girl would gingerly pick the morsel from her fingers, followed by, “You’re a good girl!”

It gave me joy to watch this exchange on many family occasion. It showed a different side of my mom, and it revealed to me how a little furry being and her tenderness could chase a lifetime of fears away in a moment.

Walks with my dad in the last years, him in his wheelchair, were dotted with moments of China leading the way as my dad held her leash, also revealing a different side of my dad post stroke….one I hadn’t known before.

Our little China girl had played a starring role in many pieces of are family’s lives in the past 15 years and counting.

So no… she is not JUST a dog to me.

My 4 daughters and and grandchildren have all experiences with her in their everyday lives over the years.

15 years of walks, playgrounds, bed snuggles, camping weeks, bike rides playing fetch till our arms were exhausted, car rides, ice creams and timbits, And wet kisses to go around as the family spilled into the door on the weekends. Her little wagging tail spoke volumes as she greeted each one.

And of course she was my sidekick for all these 15 years. Soft gentle licks when I was sad, soft gentle licks when I was happy. Greetings at the door…. every single time…. no judgment.

I share this story because I dare say I believe God created these furry friends to connect us in many ways…heal… teach.

For those of us who are fur baby lovers, I believe it’s brings our God much joy when his creations warm our hearts and knit us together with memories.

My little girl is a blessing to me and saying goodbye someday is not a thought I want to entertain just yet. but when that time comes, the memories that have knitted us together, have painted a beautiful picture.

A little 10 pound dog, conquered a lifelong fear in my mom. She was… she is… a loyal friend, and companion to our kids and grandkids. But most of all, I believe she is a Heaven sent, non judgmental being sent to teach us what that could look like.

As I finished this story, my little girl lifted her head and stared at me as if to say “What’s all the fuss about? And what’s with the tear?… I’m still here….”

She’s still hereā¤

So for now, I will enjoy her to the fullest in her golden years, and reflect on the wonderful moments she has connected for us, helped heal us… now in her golden years…

Our God-given…

unlikely teacher.