Maybe it was the big brown eyes that were to blame. Or perhaps it was the curly, non-shedding hair and turned up tail. Or it could have just been temporary insanity. Yes, temporary insanity was definitely the reason I brought the dog home.
After twenty-five years of marriage I knew better than to bring home another pet without consulting my husband. I also knew it was best to pray before embarking on life changing decisions. I usually prayed at the drop of a hat, but I had neglected to do so before putting the dog in our car.
My mistake began when I read an email on the homeschool message tree. “Due to allergies we must give away our beloved dog, Luis. He is a one-year-old labradoodle that loves children. He jumps through hoops, speaks, dances, plays dead, rolls over, and does other tricks.”
Wow, I thought, What a great dog. Without stopping to think (never a good step) I picked up the phone. Like a dazed shopper racing for a limited supply of a much-desired item, adrenaline propelled me. “Can I come out and see him?” I asked.
Within minutes my four youngest kids and I were petting Luis who was very excited to meet us. We watched with delight at his cute tricks. By now, I had become the victim of a multiple personality. The sensible mother and wife, who shopped wisely and avoided impulsive behavior, gave way to the crazy dog lady. “We’ll take him,” the crazy lady announced. Before the transaction could be completed, the family wanted time to say good-bye to their dog.
I was scheduled to meet at a playground with three other moms so our kids could play together, so I told the mom that I would return in a couple hours. I should have seized this “time-out” to regain my sanity. It was a missed opportunity for sure. Not until I was getting ready to leave the playground did I even admit to my friends that I was going to pick up a dog. My friends knew I already had two husband-approved dogs. So now you understand just how truly crazy the dog lady was.
I will forever be disappointed in my friends. Would they have let me reach for a third drink in the middle of the afternoon? I think not. Yet, they stood by and let me go for a third dog. Why didn’t anyone slap me in the face and tell me to wake up? There were three of them. They could have formed a human shield and refused to let me leave the park. Instead, they did nothing but express surprise. “You are going to have three dogs?” one of them said, her eyes bugging out.
Even though I tried to ignore it, there was a small thin voice within me, trying to make contact. “What about your husband?” the voice asked.
“Oh, that’s right,” I thought. I called Mark at work. “Hi Mark. We’re going to be taking care of a dog for another homeschooling family.” A bit of small talk ensued and then I said good-bye. “There, took care of that,” I determined. It was actually the truth, sort of. Yeah, I know all about sins of omissions. Guilty as charged.
If there was no difference in the mom’s and one child’s allergies, with Luis gone, they wanted the dog back after two weeks. So I had convinced myself that we might not even keep him anyways. I’d let Mark in on the rest of the story after he realized how cute the dog was. Our own two dogs were getting old. They were happy to lie around all day, so one more dog would not really add much, I figured.
But when I walked into the door and looked at the three furry animals in my living room, I suddenly felt like a zookeeper. Three was way more than two. “Let’s pick up the clutter and move this toy box upstairs so there’s more room around here,” I ordered trying to stop the feeling that the walls were closing in.
One of the first things Luis began doing in his new home was barking loudly and often. Luis clearly had no affection for men and mine is a male dominated household. We have eight boys (six still at home) and two girls. The two little boys were fine, but the older ones were teens, so Luis found them manly enough not to like. (You probably have noted that the crazy dog lady also has four teenagers.) Our house not only felt smaller, but noisier.
We put Luis in his indoor kennel that evening. He barked and howled all night. As I lay awake listening to the mournful howls, which pierced through my bedroom door, earplugs and the hum of a fan, I had time to think. What had I done? I prayed about the situation–finally. But what was I praying for? For God to vaporize Luis? For a time machine to go back and conduct myself appropriately? I prayed for God’s will to be done, whatever that was concerning Luis.
By the next morning, Saturday, I confessed everything to Mark. He did not like the dog. The kids cried. Luis would stop howling at night and barking so much once he settled in, I reasoned. Mark had errands and I had a meeting to go to. I stopped at church and prayed before the tabernacle: “Your will be done, Lord.”
Back at home, Mark said we could keep the dog. The kids were ecstatic. I was not sure what I thought anymore. Day after day, the kids played with and loved the dog. Night after night he howled. He was not warming up to the boys. Things always seem worse at night, and that is when remorse overwhelmed me. “Why had I been so stupid?” I asked myself listening to the howls. “I had been greedy to grab a dog I thought everyone else would want. I had been inconsiderate to my husband. I had neglected to pray first and now I was paying.”
After several nights, I let Louis sleep with the girls. This made him happy and quiet at least at night. Then, the beginning of the end appeared under our dining room table. That’s where he pooped. Years of diapers are one thing but loose poop in the house is another. My daughters’ excused it stating he was probably whimpering to go out but they had not paid attention. Then, the next day, it happened again. It was then that I knew what I had to do– repent of my sin and return the dog.
I emailed the dog’s owners late Saturday evening (minutes after finding poop #2) and explained the dog was not working out. Sunday morning, (we had gone to Mass Saturday evening) I took six of the kids fishing. Mark stayed home with two of the teenagers and slept in. I had to bring Luis with us so he would not howl and wake them up or poop in the house. It was this fishing trip that insured that the kids would not miss Luis. We tied him up very close to us, so he could see us fish. But Luis howled and barked because he wanted to be with us among the poles, hooks and tackle. He made a nuisance of himself all morning. By the time we returned home, Luis’s owner had called to say he would come by and take him back. My kids realized he would ruin our lives if he stayed. They were suddenly happy to see him go.
His original family had missed him and thought that maybe frequent baths could help alleviate any contribution he was making to their allergies. I apologized for the inconvenience I had caused. Then, when they drove away, I felt like doing cartwheels through the house. The mistake born of my temporary insanity was gone! The burden had lifted! Mark shared with me that he knew if he sent the dog away, the kids would think he was the bad guy. Yet, he did not want the dog. It seemed a no-win situation so he put it to prayer. Mark trusted that God would handle it.
Not working in union with God and my spouse had proved disastrous. God can use all things for good and I think this whole incident served as an example to my kids. They saw what happens when one acts alone without God’s guidance and the difference when one puts a situation to prayer and trusts God to work it out. It’s no fun serving as the bad example so I will try to avoid that role in the future. I am confident we have seen the last of the crazy dog lady.