My mother enjoys dogs. She grew up with a dog which was dearly loved. Although my Dad was not keen on the idea of having a dog, he gave into Mom early in their marriage and they got a dog which they named Tippy. Apparently Tippy got into a lot of trouble, and Dad got rid of him sooner rather than later. That was the end of dog ownership in their household. Although my brothers and I dearly wanted a dog, it was not to be. As adults with our own families, both my brothers and I have had dogs. As any dog owner knows they become an important part of the family.
As we were preparing for Mom to move in we bought an adorable, female beagle puppy. We had been dogless for a few years and the timing seemed right to add a furry addition to the family. We thought it would be especially good for my mother. We named our new, little pet, Josey Wales.
We had about 7 weeks to get Josey settled in before we moved Mom into our home. In addition to house training Josey during that time, we also had the only bathroom on the main floor gutted and remodeled to be more accessible for Mom’s needs. I was working part time at home as an accounting specialist to a small consulting firm, running my photography business and managing the books for a couple other clients. I was feeling pretty frazzled. And dear, little Josey was most uncooperative.
Mom stayed with one of my brothers during the bathroom remodel. Just before she moved in she had aneurysm repair surgery. I picked Mom up directly from the hospital and brought her home. She was very weak and had a urinary catheter.
I wish Josey had had a urinary catheter because that dog refused to house train. I took her out hourly, took her to the same spot each time and praised her for “doing her business.” I brought her in, set her in the kitchen, which we had cordoned off from the rest of the house, and she would squat and tinkle on the floor. I don’t know if she was stubborn or clueless, but I was at the end of my tether with her. My mother needed a lot of assistance and Josey was requiring too much time and effort.
After consultation with my family we decided to rehome her. Within 12 hours she was resettled with a family who had been looking for a beagle. I felt like a failure, but knew it was the best for all of us. Since then I’ve read that beagles can be very challenging to house break. She just needed more time–time I didn’t have.
But the idea of having a dog in the house for my mother’s pleasure persisted. I decided to do what I failed to do the first go-round: pray about it. And so I did very specifically. I asked God to bring an adult dog into our household, a dog that needed a good home, one that was housebroken and already trained in various obedience commands. I promised not to go looking but to wait until His timing. I jokingly said I was waiting for a dog to appear in our driveway.
A couple months later a friend texted me and said she had a co-worker who had to give up her beloved 6 y/o boxer because she had moved into an apartment and dogs weren’t allowed. The dog was named Rocky and he was currently staying with her parents. I told my friend I was very interested and she provided contact information to me. I texted Rocky’s owner and we went back and forth one evening with my questions about Rocky. A boxer was a little bit bigger than I had thought we wanted but otherwise he sounded perfect. The next step was a phone call to Rocky’s owner where we chatted some more about Rocky. I wanted to know more about the dog, and I’m sure she was vetting me as a potential new owner for her “sweet puppy.” We set a date for her to bring Rocky over for a meet and greet. She said she was going to bring over all his things because she wanted us to take him right then and there if we wanted him. It was going to be a difficult good-bye for her and she wanted to get it over with.
On Easter Sunday, 2016, she pulled into our driveway, opened the back of her car and out hopped Rocky into our driveway. If you’ve never met a boxer, you might not know they are the clowns of the dog world. Rocky leaped and ran around the yard, ran up to us and greeted us then ran back around the yard with joy and abandon. He won our hearts immediately and we said we would take him.
And thus Rocky moved into our home and our hearts. He has allergies and constantly sneezes all over our oriental rugs, he has scratched up our new hardwood floors which we installed just before he moved in, he sheds so much I have to vacuum 3 times per week. But we love him.
And he loves us, too. When one of us comes home, he is beside himself with happiness and does this wiggly thing where his head swings around to his tail and he does this little boxer jig. He warns us before anyone comes to the door and barks loudly and fiercely. But we know it’s just his way of saying, “Hey, someone is at the door, please open it so I can make a new friend.”
And Mom loves him. Even on her worst days, when her communication is at its poorest, she can ask, “Where is Rocky?” Sometimes I’ll hear her say something when I’m in the other room, so I’ll call to her and ask her what she said. She responds by saying, “I was talking to Rocky.” She’s asked him how he likes her hair after I’ve set it for her. She tells him to come over so she can pet him and is fairly convinced he is here to watch over her.
Good dog, Rocky. Thank you, Lord, for bringing him into our lives.