Don’t you find that a story means so much more when you find out that it’s true? And very occasionally something that starts out as a story becomes a reality. Well, this is one such case…
I found it mildly surprising that many of our friends had our family down as the last people they would expect to get a dog. I grew up with a dog. Admittedly I don’t like being licked by them, I feel a little uncomfortable when people elevate them to human status and I definitely don’t like the smell of ‘wet dog’ but otherwise … I like them.
The rest of my family had wanted a dog for ages but I was holding out – I knew who would have to walk it in the cold, the wet and the dark. But then my wife found a photo of ‘Scrumpy’ on a dog rescue centre’s website, and I caved in. There was little chance to go back on the decision as, only 5 days later the dog was with us. All we know of Scrumpy’s story is that he was found as a stray in Ireland, he had wire wrapped around his mussel and had lost some teeth and skin as a result. When he first arrived we hadn’t known if he even had a bark. He was silent for the first fortnight before he started to relax from his traumas.
Scrumpy has been an amazing fit with our family; good natured and with similar energy levels to us (I have often observed that people seem to go for dogs that are two sizes too big for them – you need to realise that my Dad died whilst walking the dog!) Most importantly, he doesn’t try to lick me. It might seem a bit super-spiritual to say it, but us getting Scrumpy does feel like a real God-thing for our family.
The biggest impact has been on my daughter Chloe. She had been struggling with college at that time, which had really got her down; combine that with teenage angst and it was a pretty tough year for her. She fell in love with her new dog and that took the intensity out of some of her other concerns and gave reason to spend more time at home again.
Months later, I was looking at a picture that is up in our living room taken of Chloe years ago on a farm holiday. She had wanted to have her photograph taken with a sheep dog she had met on the farm and had really taken to. Looking into the photo I realised that you could have almost mistaken that dog for Scrumpy. In that moment I felt sure that Chloe had wished for a dog like that, all those years ago. Later, when Chloe came in, I showed her the photo and suggested, “I think you asked God for a dog like that back then”. “I know I did,” she said with out hesitation “I remember it”.
It’s an encouragement to me to know that God hears our prayers and the thoughts of our hearts and remembers them; sometimes even when we’ve almost forgotten them ourselves. Nothing in life takes Him by surprise and nothing is an accident for those who love Him(a). He can take the prayer of a little girl and give her just what she asked for, just when she needs it the most.
Before we got Scrumpy I had already written my first parable, ‘The Dog’.
The Dog is a character who learns how to behave at the harsh hand of The Trainer. When he is sold he struggles to relate to his New Master’s kindness and presumes that he is expected to show the same compliance that the Trainer had demanded. Gradually he discovers the true heart of his New Master and, in doing so, discovers himself too. That story has more to do with me than any animal, but Scrumpy has now become the dog of that story too. He even has a place on the cover of my book.
Sometimes stories come true.
(a) Romans 8:28