I flopped into my bed at sunrise after a night of Black Friday shopping. I shivered under the covers as a slight hypothermia had started to set in. In a drowsy state waiting for sleep to fully descend, a picture began to form in my thoughts of my youngest daughter carrying a puppy in her arms. In my mind, I saw her go into her bedroom and shut the door. Then, another scene took its place of my other daughter carrying a puppy into her room and closing a door.
I opened my eyes. Had I been dreaming? I glanced at the clock. Not even a minute had gone by. I was pretty sure I had been awake with my eyes shut. A strange longing to give each girl a dog for Christmas began to grow as I stared up at the ceiling. Like a little nudge by someone saying,
“You want this. You know you do.”
After a few moments of consideration, I began to come up with every reason why I would NOT want this at all!
I just had gone through a horrible divorce.
I just had given away our black lab less than a year prior to a family who loved her. (A fallout from the divorce and lack of being able to take the time to keep her.)
I had never raised two dogs at one time.
Neither girl was asking for a dog for Christmas.
And, then I added this out loud:
“I need them to be free. I cannot afford to buy dogs right now.” I knew if I threw that on it, it would not come about.
I turned over satisfied that I had dismissed the entire emotional episode and fell into the most peaceful sleep during the daytime with the sun fully shining.
A week later, I received a phone call.
“I am at an appointment, and there is this lady who has puppies she wants to find good homes for before Christmas. I was thinking you could take two. One for each of your girls.”
I had not spoken of my experience, and I had forgotten about it.
“How much does she want for them?” I asked.
“She is giving them away for free.”
My ability to hear correctly shut down because the event from the week before was hitting me full on.
“They are free.”
“Chris, they are free! She wants them to go to good homes.”
“Well, maybe I can take one.”
After I made that statement, I felt a heaviness and slight sadness in my heart. So much so that I had to blurt out the whole story about each girl getting a puppy for Christmas.
Once the entire encounter was out in the open, he said,
“You need to take two. One for each girl.”
“I guess I will,” I said.
I told him to give my phone number to the puppy owner so she could call me later in the day. She did so, and I made the mistake of putting the call on speaker phone. I had each girl hanging on my every word as we spoke. My oldest daughter wanted a boy, and the other wanted a female. Taking only one was no longer an option. I made arrangements to go see the entire litter later that day.
While driving over for our visit, I began to feel myself panic. I silently went over all my reasons why I should not have been engaging in this. Once I saw the puppies, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to say no. As I fretted along, I felt a strong peace settle in my chest. It was like my mind was whirling a hundred miles an hour, but I had a calm that kept my foot on the gas and the car moving toward the destination.
When we arrived and I knocked on the door, I heard a chorus of barking. The three of us were greeted by puppies running around us in circles. We decided to sit down in the middle of it all to see what would happen. A small little male came and settled in quite nicely on my oldest daughter’s lap. A smaller female came to occupy the other daughter’s lap.
“Ever since we got off the phone, these two have been sitting by the door like they were waiting for you to come,” Ellie, the owner, said.
The decision had made itself. Lily and Stinky were now ours to keep.
We left them in her care for another week and on December 12 they came to take up permanent residence in my home. Both girls had been given free dogs for Christmas.
I still don’t fully understand how they came to be mine because having two dogs was the farthest thing from any of my wishes. However, they completely changed the entire atmosphere of my home. We all laughed more often, and I worried less. Many times, we would entertain ourselves watching the two of them tussle over toys. I can still see Lily, all of two pounds at the time, dragging her brother Stinky across the living room floor by the toy in his mouth. He had clamped onto her favorite stuffed animal and wouldn’t let it go. They became a good distraction from all that had gone wrong.
Oddly, after we had gotten them, my youngest daughter told me something even more strange. After our black lab was adopted, she created a virtual dog on one of her gaming systems. It helped her to get over the fact that our real dog was no longer with us. She named her virtual pet ‘Lily’ and gave her a black coat just exactly like the real Lily. The dogs were already named when we went to go visit them, and we kept their names once we got them home. All of it seemed to be so arranged. In a very good way.
The following year, as Christmas was approaching, I made up cookie trays and wondered if Ellie would like one. On the night before Christmas Eve, I had a strong inclination to put together a tray and get it to her house. Snow was falling hard that night, but I knew I was to deliver this to her. When I knocked on the door, I heard the familiar sound of barks.
“Merry Christmas,” I said when she opened the door. “I brought you a cookie tray that I made.”
I saw the tears come into her eyes, and then she hugged me while I tried not to drop the entire tray.
“I just got back from the store. My oven broke so I can’t bake anything, and I was trying to find packages of cookies or something. This comes at just the right time.”
That is how I felt about her gift of the dogs to me. They came at just the right moment in my life, and I didn’t even realize then how much I needed them. Someone who loves me deeply knew and sent them my way. Just more proof that we are loved completely from head to tail.
Stinky and Lily