Dog delivers lesson of patience

Joan Clayton

“Not another dog!”

“But he’s such a nice dog,” my husband said, patting this creature defensively.

“This dog is not going to be a house dog,” and I meant it. Chalk up one for me for the only case I won.

Emmitt named him “Bear.” He looks like one and acts like one, I thought. I tried not to like this cuddly hyper little puppy. His little brown mustache attached to a black and brown spotted body with a short stubby tail that never stopped wagging made it hard for me to dislike him.

Winter came and although it brought mild temperatures, Emmitt thought Bear might be cold, so periodically he let Bear in to get warm. Bear’s hyperactive nature took over big time. He ran at breakneck speed knocking things around and that didn’t make me too happy.

To keep the peace Emmitt picked Bear up one day and rocked him in the rocking chair. This became a daily ritual. Did you ever hear of a grown man rocking a dog? Bear soon learned a trick in the middle of the night, causing chaos in the neighborhood.

“Woo-ooo-ooo-ooo!” (He wanted to be rocked.)

I was so exasperated I had the vet give Bear a dog tranquilizer to put in his meat. The morning after poor Bear had really hung one on. He looked so pitiful stumbling around even if he didn’t moan and groan all night. So I didn’t do that any more.

The howling was bad enough but as Bear grew, things in our backyard began to disintegrate. First, my beautiful flowering plum tree came down. He chewed the trunk right in two. Then he dug ugly holes everywhere and scattered firewood for the woodpile all over the yard.

“Look at that yard,” I complained.

“But he’s such a good dog.” Emmitt loved that dog.

“Lord, give me patience for this dog,” I prayed. “Help me to see my husband’s love for your creatures.”

I secretly found out Bear had chewed up all the wiring on Emmitt’s horse trailer. He hadn’t told me. It would have added more fuel to my ammunition.

I really exploded one day when I discovered Bear had chewed up all the satellite wiring to our television set. Emmitt tried his best to keep ahead of Bear’s destructive habits.

My thinning impatience reminded me of my prayer for patience.

Before leaving for church one day, we noticed Bear had a volleyball in his mouth.

“What a fun dog you are,” Emmitt said, patting his head. “Go ahead and play.”

We returned from church to find Bear still standing at the back door with his teeth stuck tight in the volleyball. Emmitt picked up the ball and Bear came with it. Picture the scene. Emmitt became a “dog” dentist. He had to literally pry Bear’s teeth out of the ball. I couldn’t help but laugh and I have to admit I had begun to love that silly dog.

In spite of all the aggravations, Bear’s sweet disposition had won me over. I watched Bear and Emmitt grow even closer as Bear stayed right by his side and that touched me. This loving caring man’s love for one of God’s creatures and my prayer for patience had softened my heart.

Bear began to have severe ear infections. After months of vet visits, surgery and medications, Bear died anyway.

We both cried. Emmitt’s pain remained for several weeks. How we missed Bear.

I prayed, “Lord, thank you for the gift of animals. And you know Emmitt has a tender spot for them, so could you please send another dog?”

“I’m going to town,” Emmitt said one day. As he kissed me goodbye, he remarked, “This is a special day.” I thought, He finally remembered this is Valentine’s Day and I dreamed of him bringing home a beautiful valentine.

Later that afternoon, Emmitt walked into the house grinning.

“Where have you been?” I noticed a twinkle in his eye.

“Come see, I have a valentine for you,” he said, leading me to the backyard.

My “Valentine” was brown and black and looked like Bear’s brother. I fell in love with those big beautiful black eyes and we named him “Valentine.”

Valentine rushed to me with more love than I deserved.

Bear taught me humility, compassion, and most of all patience.

I’m thankful for the lesson Bear and Emmitt taught me, but more than that, the lesson God taught me.

“Love changes everything!”