In May of 2017 our beloved rescue Golden Retriever, Zoe died suddenly of stomach cancer. We realized something was wrong with her on Memorial Day and by that Thursday she was dead. It was devastating for me, for all of us. My husband and I sat with her as she drew her last breath, I could barely breath, from crying so hard. She was my girl! She was a gift from God.
Zoe came as a year long answer to prayer in the Spring of 2013. I'd wanted a dog in 2010, bought one and God told me to give it to my Pastor. I bought another dog 2011 and he died of unknown poisoning and so I gave up. But for a year I prayed that God would send me a RED Golden Retriever. I'd always wanted one and could've bought one from a breeder, but my heart wanted to rescue. I've always been a rescuer of animals and people.
After almost a year of praying, a friend reached out to me to tell me of a Golden Retriever (Zoe) was living on a farm in Ephrata, PA and needed a home. I found out Zoe was outside with only a lean to as protection from the elements, she often hunted for her food and was aggressive around males. This did not dissuade me because I understood survival, aggression and dumpster diving. I made the 1 hour long drive to go see if she was the girl God was sending to me. When I got there I saw her and fell in love. She was a redhead, a little bit of the prayer to my Father, that I never told anyone!
My son Colton and I arrived and I connected immediately with her. She was frightened and beautiful. She did not like Colton being present. I was sure she'd suffered some abuse at the hands of a boy/man by her reaction to him. So in order to gain her trust, I went to her and I sat down on the straw bed in the lean to, and began to talk to Zoe, like I would talk to you.
I told her that I knew that she had a hard life and mostly had to fend for herself. I knew someone along the way was unkind to her and that she never knew the joy of being part of a loving human family. She just sat there and listened to me. I cried as I spoke to her. You see Zoe and I weren't really that different, except for the paws and long pink tongue! :) What happened next, I'll never forget.
I said to Zoe, Did you know your name means Life? God sent me to you and I want to love you as you heal and show you who you were created to be just like God has done with me. I can give you a new life. In time, you will be a playful, happy, ball fetching, food stealing, slobber kissing, water loving, life loving Golden Retriever. But Zoe in order for this to work your going to have to trust me. If you do Sweet-Girl, I promise I'll never leave you, never give you away or give up on you. You'll be my girl and I'll protect you.
Zoe, I need you to get into the truck so I can take you home. If you do that, you'll have a life you don't even know is possible. I got up from the straw mat and walked over to my SUV without saying another word. I opened the door, and she jumped up into the back seat sat down and began to cry so loudly. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing. I began to weep, at the suffering this precious girl endured and the risk she was taking by getting into the truck and the joy in my heart that God chose me to be her Human Mommy!
What's remarkable about a dog jumping into a vehicle? Nothing normally. But aside from Zoe being brought home in a truck when she was a puppy, she'd never been in a vehicle. So for her to jump so quickly, was confirmation to me, that she knew I was her new and forever Momma. You probably think I'm crazy, but I knew God sent me to her and answered my prayer in giving her to me. I knew He had also given her an immediate trust and love for me too.
Like any good rescue Mom, I watched Cesar Milan constantly. I took her on walks, I rewarded good behavior, redirected bad behavior but always with love. It took time, a lot of time for her to warm up to other people and especially men, but she would come to adore Colton, Caleb and Shawn. She had a great life and was always with me whenever possible.
So her death was unexpected and hit me very hard. I knew after she died that I couldn't even think about another dog. So I rescued 3 kittens. Two of the three died within months. They had FIV and the best I did for them was give them a great home for the limited time they had to live. Koonie our Maine Coon Mutt is still alive today and he makes us laugh everyday! We love him. Apache, a Seal Point Himalayan/Siamese mix adopted early 2018 is doing great and brings such comedy and joy to my heart.
Every so often the boys ask me if we can get a dog and I usually without hesitating say NO, I'm not ready and I don't want the work. You see because God sent Zoe to me, she never felt like work. It was an honor to train her, care for her, love her, etc. I knew that any dog I would get would be WORK, unless God sent him/her to me. I wasn't doing it!
However, right before Thanksgiving this year, I started thinking about another dog. I missed the wagging tail, food begging, ball chasing, barking at birds, joy of my Zoe. I wondered if I was ready.... I mentioned it to my husband. He casually started looking at dogs online and showed me the cutest picture of a ShitZu puppy. Caleb and I "ooh and ahhh'd" over the fluff ball.... and something in me shifted. I began to talk more openly about it with the boys and it didn't hurt to do so. I remember getting the Christmas Decorations out and finding Zoe's Christmas Sweater. This made me sad, I choked it back and proceeded to decorate the tree.
Thanksgiving came and went and I began to think more about another dog. I found a breeder for Newfie's and it just so happened that they had a male purebred Newfie, 3 months old who had a umbilical hernia repaired and was not yet in a new home. I did some reading, not being totally unfamiliar with the breed and the excitement started to build. Id always wanted a Newfie or Saint Bernard, or Bernese Mountain Dog. Our house and land now was certainly big enough to accommodate such a large fur baby!
My mind went thru all the rationale preparation, get a big crate, pee pads, puppy food, grain free only, chew toys, kong, sweater, etc.etc. Then Monday afternoon the boys and I drove 1.5 hours to pick up our new family member. I remember seeing his sweet little face, er big face. I picked him up and could barely manage it, so my eldest son helped. He was almost 45 lbs. I remember thinking, once he's potty trained I won't have to pick him up often. We completed the paperwork, took the token photo with the breeder and set off for home! Something in me instead of being of firm resolve sank. I was worried, although I did not voice it, to God or the kids.
Samson, handled the car ride home like a champ, well except for the last ten minutes, he puked! No big deal, I'd lined the seats with a sheet, just in case we had a puppy accident!
We went to the local PetSmart and over 200 dollars later had everything we needed to get started for Samson!
The next 48 hours were excruciating. All members of my family helped, a lot, but yet the occasions where I needed to pick up Samson to take him outside to do his business, was so frequent and my injured neck was reminding me it wasn't happy about the new requirements. By Wednesday afternoon I was at my wits end. I called the breeder and told her of my problem and she said I could bring Samson back and she'd refund my money! This broke my heart, but I new I would be Samson's Primary Caregiver and I couldn't handle him! I broke the news to our sons, who were furious with me. They were/are used to a Mommy who rescued animals not returned them. I was never quick to make a decision like this, so they had no reason to think I'd back peddle! Neither did I!
It was on the ride home from bringing Samson back, that my youngest 12, told me how angry he was at me and of course I listened and validated his feelings. He sobbed! So did I, as I drove us home, puppy-less! It was then I realized that "I missed the mark" aka I sinned.
I made a major decision without the counsel or permission of God. Sure my hubby gave his blessing, but later on he revealed he thought Samson would be too much for me, but he wanted me happy so he didn't object!
I never prayed, like I had with Zoe, or the kitties we have now... I just took everything into my own hands and went full speed ahead. This was not only a sin against God, it was against my children. Yikes! How had I been so foolish? I'm discerning, slow to react, mindful of the practical short and long term....... Yes, I am all of these things WHEN I PRAY, not absent of prayer! Absent of prayer I'm impulsive and unpredictable! Even after 14 years of walking with God!
Missing the mark isn't some glib thing we say to water down sin. Every time we miss the mark others are affected, God is ignored and people can be hurt. and there are often consequences. Now in this case Samson found a new home within days, with other Newfies and will grow up strong, happy and do well.
The kids are not so mad at Momma anymore and we are talking about rescuing again, with a firm resolve to not get ahead of God! God's will always provides the best thing at the perfect time, with the right provisions. As smart as I think I am, I always need God, so do you! God cares about every decision we make. Sometimes I play God and I lose!
Note to self: don't do that again! :)