Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hope is the thing with soft, black fur....

First, two business items to discuss:

1.  I have every intention of writing about our farmsitting adventure for our Old German Baptist friends.  I am waiting until all of the pictures are transferred over to my computer so that I can overwhelm you with them. 

2.  I did write a little bit about farmsitting (complete with a few pics) over at Practicing Families this week in a post entitled, "The Rhythm of Solitude." 

And now, onto today's topic...our new dog, Luke.

(Luke on his first walk)

Yesterday morning I was in the shower, and I had this really horrible idea to completely bastardize one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems in honor of this puppy dog whom I am so in love with that it is rather distracting. 

Here is the beginning of the Dickinson poem:

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And, here is how I completely ruined the poem with my own version:

Hope is the thing with soft, black fur
Who sits upon my lap.
Who looks at me with trusting eyes
And nestles in for a nap. 

I never claimed to be a poet. 
But, there is truth to my words.
If Luke were a girl, I might have pushed that we name this puppy Hope.  However, we have named the puppy Luke (Skywalker) in honor of his sister, (Princess) Leia, whom we still miss with aching hearts. 

Let me bore you here for a second.

Luke is, basically, too good to be true. 

We brought him home early Friday morning, and as of today he has had a grand total of two accidents in the house (and one at Lowe's, but I wasn't there, so I'm pretending like that one doesn't count).

I have only had to take him out to go to the bathroom once each night he has spent with us. 

The longest period he has cried is after his 4:30 am bathroom break, when I stopped to take a quick bathroom break of my own before heading back up to bed, and he wanted me to pick him up and carry him upstairs immediately.

He isn't crazy hyper.  At all.  In fact, he is super mellow.  (I realize this could change.  When we brought Leia home, she was quiet and sweet and slept all of the time.  How quickly things changed....  We got Leia at eight weeks, however, and Luke is twelve weeks old.  I am thinking that Leia was showing her true colors by the twelve-week mark?  I wish I remembered.) 

He is obviously used to being around children.  He spent the first twelve weeks of his life in a household of small kiddos, so he thinks kids are great. 

He loves love.  And attention.  And kisses.  And affection.  And my lap. 
The truth is, I want a dog I can absolutely smother with love.  So far, Luke isn't resisting my smothering instincts. 

But here's why, if Luke were a girl, I think I would want to name him (her) Hope:

Luke was born on March 1. 
March 1 is the day after Leia got sick (also, incidentally, the day after my birthday, which I still find an incredibly dirty trick).
It was on March 1st that I stood in my living room and looked at Jack lying on the couch, who was very sick with strep, and Leia lying on the couch, who was also very sick with a bowel obstruction that wasn't diagnosed until it was too late, and I wondered who I should take to the doctor first.
It was on March 1st that the talons of fear about Leia first wrapped menacingly around my soul.
It was on March 1st that I began a painful weeklong journey of worrying about my sick puppy, carrying her into numerous vet appointments, nurturing her, and crying for her.

And then, when Luke was just one week old, when we didn't even know he existed, Leia died.
And my heart just broke into teeny-tiny pieces.
And (as ridiculous as this may sound) I sort of let go of hope.
And (as ridiculous as this may sound) I sort of turned away in confusion from my faith.
And  (as ridiculous as this may sound) I sort of became stricken with grief and sad and, for lack of a better word, depressed.

Three weeks ago, I saw a picture of Luke on my friend Melanie's Facebook page. 

I looked at the pictures, but I dismissed them.
We wanted a chocolate lab or a golden retriever.
I very specifically did not want a black lab.  I don't know why, but I have never felt great affection towards black labs (please do not project any racist dog feelings here.  I feel the same way about the very white brichon frise and poodles of any color). 
But then my friend Jeannine re-posted those pictures on my Facebook page. 
And I sighed a little.
And then I carried my laptop over to my kids and said, "OK, guys, you said you wanted a chocolate lab or a golden retriever.  The puppies in these pictures are not chocolate or golden.  What do you think?"
And they both chose the same dog.
(If you have children, you know that this is a miracle in and of itself.)
So I sent a message to my friend Melanie, and she sent a message to her cousin in Oklahoma who owned the puppies.  Arrangements were made.  And here is Luke.

He is the product of an unplanned pregnancy, which makes me love him all the more.
He is a motley mix of dog breeds, which makes me love him all the more.


You know, while we were farmsitting last week, I found myself tentatively talking to God again.  He seemed present to me as I milked the cow without a CD playing and washed the dishes without NPR and listened to my husband and children without wondering what might be happening in Facebook world.
So, God and I were talking again.
That was good.

And then on Friday, Luke bounded into our world.
And then I thought that, maybe, I would be OK.
And then I realized that, maybe, we would all be OK.

It's not going to be easy, I don't think.
Luke had the hiccups yesterday, and I heard the sharp edge of worry in Amélie's voice as she asked us what was wrong with him.
When Luke slipped into the unfenced front yard this afternoon, I had to fight a rising tide of absolute panic and horrific mental visions of him being hit by a car.
When we came home from church today, I had to beat back images of him electrocuted on the floor from chewing a wire I might have accidentally left plugged in.

(I tell you, people, my imagination is a total wreck.)

The poor dog is growing up in a family suffering from a little trauma, I think.
He is going to be overprotected.
He is probably going to become completely neurotic.
He might have a few rebellious moments in his teenage years.

But, he is going to be loved
and cared for
and played with
and hugged
and smothered with adoration. 

We love you, Luke.
Welcome home.

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