Priscilla and I

Lately I've been greatly wanting to hold a puppy. My history with dogs deserves an explanation so that the rest of this post makes sense. I was one of those kids who always wanted a dog. In fact, I made up an imaginary dog, sort of like my imaginary friends and imaginary boyfriend, later. She was a cocker spaniel named Cream and she and I did everything together. I called her my "air bud" delighted by the idea that she was a dog (like in the movie) and that she ate nothing but air. If I didn't want to take care of her, I simply forgot about her for a while.

But I really wanted a living dog.

We had just moved into a new house over Christmas. It was the first time that we had lived in a place where larger pets were an option. In fact, our landlady even gave us dog paraphernalia for Christmas. I was so excited that I could have burst.

Shortly after Christmas, while scanning the classified ads, I found an entry which advertised free puppies. They were a border collie/golden retriever mix. I circled the ad and yelled at my Mom from outside the shower. Even though she said that we weren't ready for a puppy and my parents made it clear as we drove out into the country a bit that we were going just to look I think that something in me knew that they were wrong.

The puppies looked just like black labs with hardly a speck of white on them. They were housed in a barn among farm equipment and recreational vehicles. The litter was friendly and playing all together...all but one. Perhaps I saw something of myself in the little puppy hiding behind a Sea Doo. Perhaps she just stood out from the crowd since she wasn't with them. In any event, I knew I wanted her. No question.

In spite of earlier statements, we took her home on the spot, stopping at the pet store to pick up anything we might need for the next 24 hours. She was 6 weeks old, adorable and a puppy in every way.

Our lives were never the same after that, from the hair which covered every surface (and still does) to the way she would cuddle up against us or plop down on our laps. I used to waltz with her around the living room (which she hated) and generally annoy her by playing with her appendages.

We named her Casey.

My brother's name is Kevin and I'm Cara so we combined the letters.

We haven't always gotten along super well, Casey and I, I mean. In fact, there was a time when I was downright opposed to her. She was hit by a car and hurt very badly. This happened at a time when I wanted a lot of attention, but much of the extra attention was diverted to the dog. I'll admit it, I was jealous of a four-legged animal who may or may not have a soul.

Since I've gone away to college, our relationship has been better. We've made our peace and forgiven each other for the past. In fact, we had a nice heart to heart about it over the summer.

So I miss puppies. They are innocent, sometimes vicious, cute enough to get away with things that seem far too much to deal with. There were times when my mother joked that she wanted to open the front door and let Casey play in traffic. However, after the accident, there was no one who devoted more time and attention to her than Mom did. There were times when she would sleep on the floor with her to comfort her throughout the night. We always joked that Mom's cover had been blown. She really loves that dog.

I'm away from home at the moment and it has been too long. I miss my family, my own bed, the comforting smell of familiarity. I miss my dog.

Today, I went into a pet shop with a friend because their window said that their puppies liked to be played with. I walked up and down the rows of windowed cages, wanting to buy all the puppies and rescue them from something that seems to me too much like the red-light district in Amsterdam.

But I could only pick one.

One puppy to take with me into a tiny enclosure for a few moments and pet and squeeze and love.

I chose the golden retriever.

Before she came, I named her Priscilla and called her by this name. I tousled the hair on her head and let her chew on my hands and shoes (stopping only at my cardigan). I took in her face, smaller than the size of my hand, and her probing eyes. Her aggression.

It was with regret that I allowed the woman who had brought her to take her away  again. It was with difficulty that I answered her question in the affirmative: "Have  you fallen in love yet?"

I said goodbye to Priscilla, wiggling her ears once more.

It was enough.

Later today, I bought a jacket (now bear with me) it was made out of very soft fabric (even on the inside). I've been wearing it since. It is a little bit like fur and makes me feel cuddly, secure and safe. It makes me feel like a puppy or a bear cub. I think that it will help on those days when I need something to hold. Something to remind me that it's all going to be okay, someday.

God is constantly reminding me of His presence and the ways that He is at work in the world. Today, He used puppies. He reminded me that He is always with me, no matter where I am or what I'm doing.

"And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age..."