The first time I saw Stella, I didn’t like her. Easy dogs are easy to like. Well-mannered, cute, sweet-smelling, obedient. Stella did not fit that bill. She did not meet my definition of cute. She smelled awful. She farted constantly.
Stella is an Olde English Bulldogge. A bulldog. Lazy old me with a bulldog.
I had prayed for a dog – a small brown and white dog with a long, narrow muzzle and a quizzical look on its face. It had been almost 5 years since my little Corgi, Susie, had died. I felt I was finally ready.
“Dear Lord, please send me a dog I can help, a dog I can be good to, the little brown and white dog that I am seeing in my mind. Oh, and no shedding, chewing, bad smells, or pooping and peeing in the wrong places.”
(In other words, I wanted a windup toy dog that I could turn on and off with the push of a button. Lazy old me.)
Three months later, Stella came. She did not wander up. My son brought her. She was pregnant and within a couple of weeks of delivering her litter. I didn’t expect anything good when Stella showed up. I expected more work, more mess, more dirt.
But then I hadn’t expected much of anything good for a long time. It’s hard to talk about failures. They come in so many varied shapes and sizes. Sometimes they come in strings and, after a while, if you don’t break free from quicksand thinking, you get stuck. You start tolerating life, not living it. (And here’s a secret – occasionally failure is success in disguise.)
I started tolerating Stella and shifted to feeling sorry for her. I looked at her hang dog face night after night as she awaited the birth of her puppies. Poor Stella would lumber up to me, begging for a smidgen of attention.
One day I realized that Stella and I looked a lot alike. Hang down heads. Hang dog faces. God can use anything to get your attention, even a bulldog.
“God knows what He’s doing, Stella.”
She looked at me doubtfully with her sideways bulldog stare. “God knows what He’s doing. Do you?” She didn’t have to say it. It was written all over my face.
So where will all this lead? I don’t yet know. The Lord answered my prayer with a bulldog. She was not the dog I prayed for. She was the dog I needed.
And she did fit one item on my mental prayer list. She was brown and white.
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