A few weeks ago, Andrew and I ended up with an accidental puppy named Ozzie.
And tonight, after many tears and agonizing pro/con lists, I dropped him off to his new forever home.
We learned so much from this experience: about choices, about preparation, about the difference between falling in love and acting out the VERB of love. These are a few reflections on the past few weeks.
It all started when we attended a charity auction one night. Beautiful decorations and elaborate signature cocktails filled the reception hall. Hundreds of auction baskets lined the room. Over our 4-course meal, a live auction took place.
All of the “who’s who” from Canton seemed to be in attendance. This was the sort of auction where a hayride could sell for $7,500 at the end of bidding wars.
Mid-auction, a 12 week old Cairn Terrier came to the platform. Before the bidding, this adorable puppy went from table to table- charming each person he met with his huge, sympathetic eyes and frizzy coat.
The auctioneer held up this sweet dog and said “Let’s open it up at $500!” and for some reason, I raised my number.
In a room full of people spending $3000 on home cooked meals and $10,000 on tickets to Disney World that they would never use… the bidding stopped completely. Not one single paddle in the air, not one counter bid.
10 minutes later, Andrew and I were in the car with our accidental puppy on the way home-without a clue about how to care for him.
With new ministry positions, a new home, a new routine still under construction- Ozzie wasn’t the best idea.
But, for the next few weeks, we stumbled through our puppy trial-by-fire. This delightful, bright creature kept us up late at night and woke us up early every morning.
He ate a hole in our rug, he peed on every surface of our floor, he punctured the skin all over our fingers and feet- and he tortured our cats.
At the same time, he charmed all of our neighbors, he licked our noses, and he wagged his tail with exuberance every time we walked into a room.
Every day was an adventure with Ozzie.
One morning, he crawled out from under our porch with a mummified rat in his mouth- there were visible tufts of hair and little claws still intact on it’s blackened, shriveled body- I could have puked.
A few nights ago- I introduced Ozzie to my beloved Oliver (our 3-legged cat). Ozzie knocked him to the ground and peed on him- I could have screamed.
We both loved and feared this little dog. But as the days with Ozzie went on- we started to realize that we did not have the time, the skills, or the insight to help him thrive. It wasn’t the right season in our lives for this.
We realized that the most compassionate action we could take was to find him a home that would invest deeply in his development- and it wasn’t ours. So tonight, Ozzie is meeting his new mom – and he will flourish with her.
But Ozzie taught me a few lessons in his short weeks with us that I will always remember:
1) Never make a bid on an auction item you are not prepared to take home
2) Starting your day with a 6am walk guarantees more energy and productivity
3) Make a point to meet your neighbors- even if you do not have a dog to start the introduction
4) In all relationships, be prepared to take responsibility, time and energy to help the one you love to thrive
5) Set boundaries- even if it’s not someone peeing on your carpet or chewing your fingers, it’s important to be confident in your ability to say ‘no’
Finally, Ozzie taught me that Andrew and I loved taking care of another soul together. We learned that with the right circumstance, in the right time- we will be great collaborators and communicators about how to nurture and sustain a growing household, puppies and children alike.
Even as I write this, I miss the sound of his sharp toenails on our wood floors. I miss the smell of his puppy belly. I miss the routine of a late night walk. But I will remember the lessons he taught me, the gift he gave us through his hope-filled spirit, and the place in our hearts that we discovered through him- with more room to love, to nurture and to grow.
Thank you, Ozzie.