Beyond puppy love

Puppy love can mean two things: you love puppies or you have a naïve, shallow kinda love.  In my case, it meant both.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved puppies, especially tiny puppies.  I grew up before lawsuits had really started over people petting other people’s dogs, and so I petted all the dogs in the neighborhood.  And I wanted all of them.

When I moved out of the house, my first act of independence was to get my own puppy.  Actually, I got my own puppy about a month before I moved out.  I bought him little toys, the finest natural dog food, and I even paid for him to go to doggy daycare every day while I was at work.  I paid to have his teeth cleaned and I painted his nails.  He had to wear sunblock when he went outside, because he was shock white.  I thought he was the most adorable dog ever on the planet.

He was my baby.  He was a little bitty scrawny runt, and he wouldn’t hardly touch dog food.  I bought him raw meat to try to get him eating.  He was an absolute mess.  He was persnickety about where he would go potty, and usually not on the newspaper.  He hated going outside for pretty much any reason.  He would not eat baked dog treats without begging.  And he would growl whenever he felt like it.

When he was about two years old, he suddenly died.  He’d been a runt, and never in very good health.

I was angry at God from the moment my dog died.  I was sure God had done this to me—sure, totally sure, that God had taken this dog away from me on purpose.

I am even more sure now than I was then.  Because of all that happened in the months after.

I was completely miserable.  I hadn’t lived without a dog since I could remember.  I loved, loved, loved dogs.  I had to have a dog.  I needed a dog.  But now the dog I needed, my most favorite dog in the world, had died.

I hated not having a dog.  I hated not having a dog.  I felt lonelier than ever.

I started facing some hard truths about life.

For one, I knew my dog didn’t have a soul.  I had given him a human name, but I knew he didn’t have a soul.  I knew this goodbye was goodbye.  God could give me another dog that looked just like the one I’d had when I got to Heaven, but there was no way I could have the “soul” of my dog because there was no soul.

I felt like such a fool.  I had anthropomorphized my dog into a friend.  He wasn’t.

I’m not saying dogs don’t have feelings, but my dog wasn’t my friend.  He was my dog.

I realize writing this is going to be very controversial, but I feel God wants me to share my story. and the 180 He did in my life.

All my priorities were all wrong.  After my dog died—and other events—I began to long for God.  I read and listened to God’s Word.  I started longing to hear His voice.

I started hearing a real answer for my loneliness.

I started going to church every week.  One Saturday night, I had heard the voice of God for so long, I couldn’t imagine living an eternity without Him.  I gave my life to Christ, undesirable as my life was.

But Christ wanted me.  And in Him I found a pursuit that wasn’t about make-believe or frivolity, but the pursuit of Truth.  This pursuit led me to love I had never imagined possible—real love, poured out for me on a cross.  When I gave myself to Jesus, I could hardly believe I had previously given my life to.  What a stupid waste.

The way I’d thought about dogs I now saw had been ridiculous.   All the thousands of dollars I had spent on a dog . . . could have been spent on people.

I was spending at least 10 times as much on my dog each month as Compassion International spends on a child.

On a child.

I have no excuse.  I certainly can’t say I didn’t know there were people in need.  All I can say is that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all my sins.

I don’t think I will ever have a dog again.  Not in this life, anyway.  I love dogs, and I know God has brought joy to many people through pets, but in my life, Satan used dogs to distract me from why I am here: to love God and, through Him, to love others.

Now that I’ve seen the love of God, I don’t need a puppy.  What brings me more joy than a puppy’s wagging tail is knowing a child is fed or a woman has chosen life for her baby or a village has heard the Gospel for the first time or a friend has chosen to follow Jesus Christ.

I thank God that He took my dog away, because He gave me the priceless opportunity to see things for how they really are and come to Him for salvation . . . and He gave me the precious chance to help people who will live forever.

the truth lives in us and will be with us forever (2 John 1:2b, NLT)