We were sitting at the table eating the dinner my sweetie had put together when a tidal wave of emotion came over me. I had to put my head down to steady myself. I suddenly felt completely defeated.
The author Bruce Cameron said, “When you adopt a dog, you have a lot of very good days and one very bad day.” This was that day for our family. A few hours earlier I’d had to take our beloved Buddy to be euthanized.
Desperate to do something, other than cry, I told everyone we were going on a walk in Buddy’s honor when we were done. My sweetie only had a few days of feeling normal under his belt, after a breakthrough case of COVID, so I knew a walk was pushing it. Still, I felt like we had to try.
It was horrible leaving the house without Buddy pulling ahead on his leash, but we managed to do it without retreating back to nurse our wounds. Once we got around the first corner we fell into a rhythm and walked at the brisk pace he had, until just a day before he went down for the count.
As we were getting close to my girlfriend’s house, I started to get weepy. She’s a dog lover and many times over the last nine months Buddy battled his fungal infection she’d asked about him. I didn’t want her to see me crying so I tucked my head down hoping to get past her unnoticed. This is when I found a quarter on the sidewalk. I picked it up knowing it was meant to encourage us.
When I got home, I put the quarter next to Buddy’s collar. Usually, a quarter makes me think of how God brings things full circle but with this find, I knew God was whispering the number twenty-five. Twenty-five in the Bible represents the idea of God’s grace upon grace in our lives and Buddy was truly the embodiment of that.
He wasn’t a rescue dog, in the true sense of the phrase, but when he came into our lives he wasn’t sell-able and maybe not adoptable. He was the swimmer of his litter and couldn’t walk. He needed special handling just to eat. None of this mattered to my mom and me when we met him. The minute he melted into her shoulder we agreed to take him home.
At the time the boys and I were climbing out from under the weight of a major trauma. We all had PTSD but I had it the worst. I describe that season in my life as a time where I was afraid of my shadow. My Mom had temporarily moved in with us because I was struggling so much.
Having a puppy to focus on proved to be good medicine. It took a couple months for us to help Buddy gets his feet under him and during that time I began to get my feet under me. I know this is a big part of why he and I were so close. We’d saved each other.
If this wasn’t God’s grace upon grace in my life, I don’t know what was. Back then what I knew about God intellectually wasn’t enough. I needed a physical reminder of His faithfulness and Buddy proved to be that as my constant companion and protector—a role he took seriously for over eleven years.
One evening before we had to say goodbye to him, we talked at dinner about what we would miss about him. When it was my turn to answer it felt awkward but I said what I felt, which was that I would miss his undying devotion to me. I know my family loves me but Buddy never let me forget he loved me.
Nobody argued the point because to some extent this is what everyone loves about their dog— the unbridled irrepressible affection they shower you with. If grace upon grace is a way of saying God’s love for us is limitless Buddy’s love for me reflected that truth perfectly.
I will always be grateful for the way God showed up for me in the life of this furry friend. He wasn’t the perfect dog but he fit-in perfectly with what my sweetie calls our family of misfits. This is one of the things I love about God—He shows up for his children in whatever form they need at the time they need it most.
It can be hard at times to see God’s work in your life. Our fear and anxiety tend to obscure the view. When that’s the case I’ve learned you just need to stop and look for the creatures who are faithfully by your side. They may or may not have whiskers but if they’re taking on any loving role in your life, they’re God’s agents showering you with grace. Afterall, angel wings fit on the backs of humans and dogs equally as well.