By Judith Costello
This is the Alleluia season! God gives us the greatest gift ever in the life of Jesus! And now during the Easter season we see the evidence of life’s renewal all around us.
For our household the new puppy is a symbol of that newness and she’s a blessing —well, sometimes.
Coco came to us on Christmas Eve — I picked her up as a tiny thing, from a family trying to get rid of puppies at the grocery store. Our new kitten had come from church only a few months before. Animals just seem to come to us in odd ways.
Now we have a fat teenage cat and an overly large, toddler pup in the house! Cats tend to grow up fast and let you know their pattern of behavior is unchangeable after two months. But God gives us puppies when we have forgotten what it’s like to be raising young ones.
Puppies are a wake-up call for anyone who is looking back on childrearing with “rose-colored glasses!” Puppies, like children, require consistent, diligent supervision.
Yet no matter how careful you are, puppies get into trouble. First the puppy chewed up the cord to my printer. Then Coco chewed up her dog leash, the sewing machine controls, my art supplies and a T-shirt. She’s made messes on the carpeting in her owner Peter’s bedroom and in most every room of the house. She was so little during the first two months that it was hard to be mad. We tended to think of the clean-ups as another part of Lent. Just a few extra chores; a part of the process of puppy raising.
We had to take Coco with us wherever we went because my husband, Jurgen, isn’t in good enough health to deal with vibrant (read “hyper”) puppy energy. So Coco came to Sunday school. She was adored until she had an accident in my classroom that I didn’t see. The maintenance man found it and reported it to the office. Coco is now on the banished list.
Then she grew really fast. Now she looks like she’s a full grown dog, but she’s only a 5-month old puppy. With her new “dog body” comes the expectation that she should be calm and friendly, like Labradors are supposed to be. Not so, for the misunderstood young one.
My husband started calling her a mistake. My kids called her MWM for Mom’s Weak Moment (in bringing her home). Then one evening she went outside for 10 minutes and came in with a bizarre face. Her whole muzzle was swollen. And the swelling was spreading.
Coco didn’t want to hold still. She ran around the kitchen as if she was trying to find a way out of her own skin. Our neighbor confirmed it. “There are spiders and snakes out now. It could be either. The poison could kill her fast. But an antidote is extremely expensive.”
We decided to try alternative treatments. Ice and herbal remedies. There is no money in our limited budget for a major vet bill. We did the treatments and prayed. That was all we could do. I told myself, “It has to be enough.”
It’s when we think we’re going to lose a life, that we appreciate it the most! We huddled around her.
The next morning, the swelling was almost gone and Coco was back to her usual jumping-on-everyone self! She’s an overly large puppy who thinks the overly large cat is her playmate!
So we thank God for the wonders of this Alleluia season. In his creation we have a chance to know him in different ways. Through Coco we see that God has a plan to keep us laughing and crying at the same time!
(Judith Costello is a freelance writer who grew up in Davenport and now lives in rural New Mexico. Her website is www.thedailychristian.com.)