Lessons from the Dog Park

Last Saturday, my 12-year-old son and I drove to Chattanooga, TN to bring home his new best friend-a 70 lb Great Dane Mix he named Allister.  All the way home from Chattanooga, my son told his new dog how much he loved him.  He also

Boy and Dog
Boy and Dog

said repeatedly that it was the best day of his life.

It was indeed a very, very good day.

I have been pretty exhausted since then.  Don’t get me wrong, Allister is fabulous.  He is a sweet, gentle giant of an animal; the kind of dog who follows you from room to room and asks no more from life than to just be loved by you.

But…I have five kids, you know.  I am also very sensitive to the fact that Allister has lost a lot and needs some special attention from me to feel secure again.  His first owners were an older couple.  The husband got sick.  Sadly, they just couldn’t take care of a big dog any longer.

The couple entrusted Allister to the best dog rescue organization they could find and even though Pit Happens is a Pit Bull rescue, the owner Tania never turns away a dog in need.  Of course, she took Allister and placed him in a loving foster family where he had two little boys to love.  They were so wonderful for him and it was hard to say goodbye to them too.

So many goodbyes are brutally hard on a dog like Allister.

And then there is Puzzle the Schnauzer who has been ruling our home for the past six years.  She didn’t even know she was a dog until last Saturday when her new brother arrived. I am pretty sure she thought her world fell apart when he walked (lumbered?) in through the door.

She has barked at him.   She corrects him for everything.  Poor boy can’t do a thing right.  She took his new bone away

Stealing his bed cause she needs the space...
Stealing his bed cause she needs the space…

and chewed it in front of him.  She stole his bed even though she has one of her own.  So what if she weighs 15 pounds and he weighs 70?  So what?

All of this has forced me to change my schedule, slow my pace.  I am taking more walks…long walks. I am sitting at the dog park watching as the two of them learn to play.

And God is teaching me some things in this quiet space where life is paused for a brief moment.  One of the most powerful lessons has come to me as I watched little Puzzle’s life spin in a direction she neither foresaw nor would have ever chosen.

What I learned was this…sometimes, the very thing that feels like a terrible disaster, a heartbreaking ending, is a new beginning.

Allister makes Puzzle a better dog.  She plays more freely at the dog park instead of jumping into my arms like a little nerd.  She walks on the leash beside him without pulling and continually striving for control.  She’s learning to relax a bit and play like a dog.

And if I’m not mistaken, she may just be finding the friend she always needed but didn’t even know she was missing.


God grant me the faith to trust You in those moments when life doesn’t follow my script.  Help me to rest in you when everything feels like it is falling apart.  Remind me that sometimes the very thing that looks like and ending is simply the wrapping for a new beginning.  Amen.


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