Today I saved a puppy.
A helpless beautiful boy who was stumbling in the road.
I saw him and initially kept driving. I noticed right away that he was too skinny to be someone’s beloved dog. I had that hope, that someone would be scouring the roadway for him.
I drove past him, on my way to Epcot. I was excited for a day in the sun and dusk walking the countries. I drove and couldn’t get him out of my head. I was watching cars, hoping they would be slowing-an indication that someone had stopped traffic to help him.
I mean, someone always helps a dog on the side of the road, right? But this one, he was a Pitt mix, I could tell. Maybe no one would stop. I found myself turning around. Half hoping that I wouldn’t be able to find him. Hoping I could go on my way and have my heart at ease.
That wouldn’t be the way it went.
I saw him, stumbling worse than before, going in a daze across the road. Right by a driveway for a development.
I pulled in and got out of my car. Shaking a bit, I hadn’t done anything like this before. Who was I to be trying to rescue this dog?
I thought maybe someone would stop and help, like I had seen them do. But that’s not in this story either.
I knew by the way he cowered from the cars he wouldn’t be too aggressive. Still I was gentle. He let me pet him. Skin and bones, mangled and bleeding a bit. He wouldn’t stop walking. Almost like he was in a daze. I gently touched his collar-my own dog back home bit when you did this, so I was cautious. He let me, not fazed. He didn’t want any water. So, I gently led him to my car.
Thankfully I had just watched a friend’s dog and there were towels covering my backseat. He jumped in gratefully.
He smelled like horse manure.
I was shaking, this was so new, what did I do next? I called my neighbors, they had experience with stray animals. No one answered. I just started driving back. Holding his collar and driving-praying my friends were home.
I had no clue what to do, how to help, anything. I just knew he was precious, kind and alone.
I guess looking back now, I’ve been feeling a little like that recently. I wanted to do something, help somehow. I saw a kindred spirit. I saw something I could do. But could I?
I was excited to see that my neighbors were home. Things happened quickly and without event. They came and saw him, we coaxed him out of my car with bread, which he took with gentle grace, even starving as he was and gratefully lapped up the water. He could hardly get out of my car without falling.
There were moments, strong and bone deep throughout this experience that I wanted to throw up my hands, that the responsibility literally scared the breath from my lungs. I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to have this life relying on me. I didn’t want to fall in love with this sweet boy.
As he jumped out of the car I longed to be at Disney. Walking around with a drink in my hand listening to the people and the music. I wanted to have not driven past this puppy. But those moments were not something I could do right now.
So, in the car we went, bringing my friend along for support to the vet. I don’t have this in the budget. What was I even doing? My new car was getting dirty, it now smelled like dog and horse poo. But again, he was there, handsome and sweet, just trusting me along the way.
Not great news at the vet. Fleas. Heartworm. Possibly some kind of worms. The vet asked me what kind of budget I had.
didn’t have a dog for a reason. No matter how the desire was there, the logic and responsibility didn’t match.
They helped as much as they could. Free samples of shampoo and flea medication. They gave him a bath without charge. Still, the bill was more than I could easily afford. Then there was talk of treatment and what I was going to do.
I. DON’T. KNOW.
They needed an answer. I paid and decided to think on it. All the while, panic-I knew I couldn’t do this. This was not something I could have in my life right now.
All the while falling in love with dog we started calling Wally.
He started following me around, wagged his tail for me. He tried to climb over the seats in my car to come and sit with me.
No. This could not be how it happened.
Why? Jesus, Why?
I don’t have the money. I have the heart.
I love him, he is precious, he loves me, he is going to be an amazing dog.
But I can’t have him.
I don’t have the money. Not sure I want the responsibility. It was a lot to take on. To fatten him up, feed him well, heartworm, fleas, interaction with Shalom.
There was no going back now. Off to Walmart for some food, bowls and something to cheer him up.
Now he’s in my backyard, in a wonderful pen, with a new collar and love.
I came inside and did what I’ve been wanting to do since the moment I let Wally into my car…I sobbed. I cried, why did I have to stop, why did I have to have a big heart, full of compassion wanting to help the world?
Tonight, I’m wishing my heart wasn’t so big, soft or compassionate. I think it’d be easier sometimes. No one else stopped for him. They went about their lives fine as can be. You know what word comes to mind as I think that? Callous. Selfish. As crazy as it was to try and take care of him.
There was a part of me, tiny as could be that wanted to be able to do what they did.
Sometimes I don’t like being who I am. Kind, soft, and compassionate. There are times I don’t want it. I don’t want to be like this. It's hard, and it's nothing something you can turn off.
How was I going to give him up now? It would feel like a void. Like something was missing. It wasn’t just a kind act, that ended with me going home feeling lighter as I made a difference, no. This was me letting him love me and taking bits of my heart. He was going to leave with those bits. I would not see them again.
But see, that was just it, wasn’t it? I couldn’t keep him. It wasn’t fair to him. But how could I let him go? He adopted me, trusted me.
That’s a knife that twists in my gut with a chill I cannot describe. To let something love you, to gain its trust and treat it right. Then leave it. To walk away.
I know they don’t feel like humans, but still. Won’t he remember something like that? Don’t we? Each time, our worth going down. Our trust.
They lose trust, they lose hope. You can see it in their eyes. So, who was I to let him love me, to bring joy to him, show how love and care can be, and then take the rug out from under him. To take him to a place where someone else would love him.
That was the real rub of it. I wanted to be able to care and nurse him through this. To create a bond that would carry and become unbreakable. He would love me, and I would adore him. Each coming out stronger and loving each other more. It would be beautiful.
And again, that is not to be my story.
It is not beautiful, it’s ragged and marred. It’s not clean and miraculous, it’s the story of everyone else. The “almost’s” and “it would have been nice” moments that make up everyone’s lives and wears on us, chipping away at our whimsy and childlike wonder of the world.
I want my story to be different. I want to know what I’m doing with my life. I want to have a talent or a passion or a knowledge of where to go. How to do it and the chutzpah and determination to do it. I don’t have that.
If I did, well I think my life, my story would be somewhat different.
I would have gone to school, I would know what I’m doing, I would be in my career, I’d have a better budget. I would welcome a cause like this. I would welcome Wally the way I wish I could, the way he deserves.
Oh Jesus, this precious boy deserves that. He deserves to sleep inside, curled up in a warm bed. Food and water abundant. Someone to play with, long walks in the morning and evening.
Why can’t I be the one to give him that?
Why does *that* seem to be my story?
That I help people along, precious and wild things, along in their journey. I don’t get to keep, and to hold. I get to see the wonder, the whimsy and joy inside and lure it out. I encourage and build and love. Then let go.
Why does that count as a gift? It doesn’t feel like it, but a curse. To notice things, to see things, to have the courage and hope and joy to speak it and grow it.
No. I want to hold, I want to see it and get to keep it. I don’t want just the hard, the way beginnings always are. I want the warm middle. To put in the hard time and see it through. I want to be able to experience what I see.
Sometimes I’m selfish and high-minded. Thinking, well haven’t I done enough? Isn’t it my turn? Haven’t I earned it?
Jesus, when will it be my turn? When can I do the things I long to?
A friend told me it wasn’t for nothing. That I saved a puppy and showed him love. I showed him that people can be different. That people want to care and love.
Still, I ask why me? Why did Jesus have me go to Disney when I did, so late in the day. Why did He put Wally in my path? Why give me the heart to stop? Why find this handsome, precious kind boy? Why? And I don’t get to keep him? No miracle of coming through.
Wally, beautiful and precious boy who deserves every good thing in this world, who has seen enough of the ugly and dark to last a lifetime. Handsome boy who is learning to trust, wag his tail and look forward to things, I’m sorry.
Tonight, as I walked him he was so excited. He wags his tail as he sees me now. He jumped up, caught his leash in his mouth and walked so proud of himself. It was the most adorable thing. He walks right next to me. He loves me. Why can’t I have that?
I hate this. My heart is breaking. I wish I didn’t have to think about it. That I could say yes to him and not think twice. I wish I was lucky enough to do that. I wish I could be at Disney, walking slow, whimsy and leisurely.
Jesus, hold up my heart. This hurts, and I know You created me on purpose, that this is a grand design. That this is the story you have for me.
Maybe it's different than what I see now. That's the faith I have. That this is for my good, and you will take care of my heart, and Wally.
Tonight I am remembering the verse Jesus gave me oh so long ago, the first time I wrestled with this soft core of mine:
"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!"
Jesus, you got this, please, strengthen my heart. It's not my job to turn callous or be mad about my soft heart. It was created on purpose. It just gives me cause to hurt sometimes is all. But Jesus has that in hand too.