A very dear friend of ours recently made a comment about how her relationship with her dog has taught her an amazing amount about our relationship with God. It was deep and profound and blew me away. I know the dog in question and, while an admittedly awesome little spud, I’ve never looked at any dog in that way. That little comment got me looking at my relationship with our dog, Rex, a little differently. Aside from noticing the points about our relationship with God, I’ve also noticed that Rex is our fur-child. Our practice baby, if you will.
Rex isn’t familiar to a lot of you, so I thought that I’d introduce the youngest member of our gang – at least until PK gets here. Rex is adopted – I guess it’s a family trend. Becky and I adopted him from the Carteret County Humane Society the day after Easter two years ago. When we showed up, I had a strict check-list of things we were looking for in a dog: 1 – surrendered by a family so that we knew some of its history and it would have a little training 2- Fixed so that I didn’t have to deal with that 3 – Pretty laid back 4- Housetrained. As we were walking around, we found ourselves surrounded by loud barking dogs begging us to love them. In the last cage, Becky spotted a tri-color hound who sauntered up to the fence and just stared at us. When we got closer, he put out one paw and just stared at us. I had a sneaking suspicion that this dog was coming home with us.
As we talked to the volunteers, I found out that the dog was likely abandoned when he failed his hunting trials since he was found wandering the highway. He also wasn’t fixed. On top of that he was cryptorchid (he only had half a chance of ever fathering pups) and that vets might not honor the certificate for a free neutering. He had no training – house or otherwise. Still in the midst of the conversation, Becky and I were playing with this scarred but beautiful mutt and I knew that we’d find a way to make him part of our family, cover the bill if I couldn’t find a vet to neuter him with the certificate, and give him the love he had obviously been lacking in the days before the humane society found him. In a nod to our last name and to the fact that Becky and I love a good pun, we named him Rex (Latin for “king”) Arthur.
Life with a new dog is an adjustment. Life with a new dog who has never been inside a house before is akin to riding a roller coaster without a seatbelt. We laughed at his surprise to radio and TV. We worked to get him to trust us and listen to us. He learned house-training surprisingly fast. However, it was not without some tears. I was at work one day and got a phone call from Becky in tears. All I could really understand was that she couldn’t do this anymore and the dog had gotten sick. It turned out that Rex had eaten a bunch of grass, run around and managing to spray a light green puke foam across the room. We got it cleaned up and then a few days later, Rex helped himself to our dinner. That’s how we discovered his breed likes to counter-surf and matures late. Joy. Several days we had to choose to love him.
Neutering Rex was a godsend. He did start to calm down and I think everyone was grateful. The days of stress and tears are
fewer and farther apart. There are still the days of teenage rebellion – Rex has been known to stare at us and yell if he doesn’t get his way. More often than not we have days when we all laugh (I swear Rex does too), a lot of snuggling and licks and moments when Becky and I have no idea what he is thinking. Today for example, we cleaned up from Christmas and Rex was so excited with the change that he ran around like a whirlwind and found himself on top of his crate – something he hasn’t done before. We were surprised and he was surprised. He was so shocked that he had a hard time getting off of the top of the crate. We had to give him some encouragement and coaching. He’s insane and a little special and takes pride in his ability to mess up a clean house in a heartbeat.
Lord willing, in a bit less than two years, Becky and I will be in the middle of a similar process. There will be some notable differences – I understand that putting your child in a cage for the night is frowned upon. Still, we will have an adorable, confused little one and all three of us will be trying to figure out how to make it work and what normal is now. There will be laughter, kisses and new experiences and tears, fret and waking up at ungodly hours. And I am looking forward to all of it.