Full disclosure: I am not a dog person.
I have never really had the patience for animals as pets. I don't like a dog that is too invasive, attacking you (albeit with love and excitement) as soon as you walk in the door. I have a lot of duties to juggle on a daily basis, and adding puppy care and training to the list was not something I was eager to do. Still, I considered it for the sake of my family.
Many times throughout our 12+ years of marriage, Mr. Smith and I have toyed around with the idea of getting a dog. We've researched breeds, gone to shelters, talked to breeders. We both grew up with dogs for pets, and he, especially, wanted to have one for our family. Right about the time we were getting serious about getting a dog, several years ago, we realized that Owen is allergic to them and we wouldn't be able to.
Fast forward to 2 years ago. My sister and her husband did extensive research, and decided on a cockapoo as their choice breed. They brought home a boy puppy named Bruno. A year later they gave Bruno a playmate, his half-sister, Paisley. Our boys fell in love with these puppies on many visits. We realized that the claims of them being hypo-allergenic, non-shedding dogs were 100% true. Owen had no problem being around them. We began to consider getting our own.
As conversations on the topic progressed, and excitement at the possibility grew, I put in an email to the breeder, asking him to let us know when they had a litter available. He did. We went out the next day. We came home with Bosco.
He was incredibly cute. A little ball of fluff and joy. The boys loved holding him, playing with him. He was sweet, tiny, slow moving, and timid. For about 3 days. Then he woke up. He chewed on things, pottied in the house, began nipping at the little ones, and he barked. Oh, the barking. Not too long into this puppy adventure, I began to have serious doubts. About our sanity, mostly. About how we could possibly keep this up. How I could possibly learn to love and care for this little fireball that was wreaking so much havoc on my daily routines. All I could see when I looked at him was a chore. Sadly, dollar signs would flash through my mind. I suppressed thoughts calculating the amount of money he would cost us over his lifetime. I tried to push aside the anxiety I felt over this decision to add to our family... with a dog. A dog! What were we thinking?!
I knew I could quickly be consumed with regret if I didn't change the way I was thinking. There was no going back, Bosco was a part of our life and I had to come to terms with that. Really, I had to embrace it.
I thought of St. Francis of Assisi. What a wonderful saint. And one of his loves? Animals! Surely if this great saint could hold animals in such esteem as part of God's creation, then I could learn to love this puppy. I began to ask St. Francis to help me. I asked him to pray for me to love this dog. Whenever I started to feel overwhelmed, I would think of St. Francis and know that there is good in caring for and loving God's creatures.
My heart began to soften. I found myself enjoying time with Bosco. I would stop several times a day to rub his belly and scratch his ears. I felt a smile cross my face immediately at the sight of those eager puppy eyes, tail wagging, hoping I'd play with him and shower attention on him. Even when he was being naughty, even when others in the house were fed up with him, I, a non-dog person, could see the bright side of having this furry creature in our midst.
I don't see dollar signs anymore. I am no longer counting the cost or the toll, but now the fun and the blessings.
I can promise you this: This change was not within my own power to obtain.
Thank you St. Francis. Thank you, Lord, for blessing an open mind with a change of heart.