Sunny side up - Grateful for a very special dog

God knows I’m grateful for all his blessings. For Jesus and home and country. Faith and family and friends. But this Thanksgiving column has somehow gotten paw prints all over it.

It’s done. The months of searching. Praying. Wondering if we could, if we should, if God and GraceCat would mind. Shopping at SPCA, online ads and dog shelters. All past now. A new pet shares our home. A dog mostly grey, wooly and large, a little like the Preacher.

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An older dog, for a pair of old dogs.

That’s not entirely true, but we feel old sometimes. Act like it too. Life is beautiful, and God is still better to us than we deserve. But our daily routines could use a freshness injection. Too often we live by rote, particularly when the weather turns cold. Although that has some advantage, it palls at times: Get up, accomplish the day’s assignments, eat supper and go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Good weather and grandchildren often refresh our routines. Nevertheless, we’re definitely further down the road of life than we were last year. Aging changes a body. It also brings more frequent losses, sorrows, illnesses, and disabilities. But no matter one’s age, numerous studies corroborate that a pet can add joy and purpose to life, and that children do the same.

God bless the beasts and the children.

Our grandbeans will move further than three hundred steps from us soon. This dignified senior dog, at the moment relaxing on the floor beside me as I tap, could never replace them. And he won’t transform our lives. But we’ve had enough pets of many sorts to realize that he will alter them.

Some aspects of dog ownership make life less convenient – more responsibilities and less freedom to leave for long periods. More messes, too. We’ll likely have some squabbles among our now three pets – although Ernie has already proved himself, even to our newest addition, as the Alpha Pet. (So he should, as our eldest and first of the three to join our family – albeit the smallest).

But, God willing, we’ll have more to discuss over supper. A companion when one of us leaves home; a friend that sticks, not as close as Jesus, but closer than a cat or a parrot. I’ll have a regular walking partner to (try to!) dig me out of bed in the mornings. The Preacher will have company on his chaplaincy visits to the local nursing homes. And when they visit, the grandbeans will have an affectionate playmate who can run and jump better than Nana.

Sleep refused to come the evening before our interview to meet our dog’s former owners. I felt like a nervous bride. My mind played scenarios, some scary, some not so. But not one of them matches the buoyancy of this reality: in perfect timing, God sent the dog he knew we needed, and chose us as the home the dog needed. Isn’t that just like our faithful Father in Heaven?

Grateful? You bet.

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