We have a little wiener dog in our house. I’ve been told her breed name is dachshund but I have a hard time even saying dachshund much less spelling it, so a wiener dog she is. She can sing and say “I love you” but she is inconsistent and has to be in the mood to do so.
Two years ago, on Valentines Day, a give away, Craigslist, less than 5 pound, red satin bow around her neck, skinny red dachshund, became a part of our family. She was a good companion for our ol’ girl Lucy. All of a sudden the elderly, loner Lucy was forced into a daily exercise regimen, which included but wasn’t limited to squirrel chasing, bird harassing, dirt digging, and lizard and frog swatting. She was forced to run and play, her yard and porch no longer her sole possessions. The one time grazer Lucy was forced to complete and defend her daily dog food rations from the rambunctious, young, new comer. She even smiled more often. That little wiener pup added years to her life and life to her years. Two years to be exact.
When the wiener came to the Martins she was named Harley. Such a manly macho biker name didn’t seem to quite fit her tiny, agile, red frame, so by way of blind vote proposed names like “Valentine,” “Miracle,” and “Little Angel” were passed over for “Pepperoni.” She is Pepperoni Sausage Dog. Pepper for short. Pep is short for Pepper and most days she’s just that, Pep.
Soon after she earned the nickname “Houdini Wienie” because she can escape from near anything with lightning speed. If not for her sparkly red cat collar (she would be furious if she knew she sported a mortal enemy cat collar so I dare not say it out loud) with a bell, we’d rarely be able to find her. She has a way of slipping into holes, maneuvering through tight spaces, and wedging herself into impossible situations. Scott Martin says this is typical weenie dog behavior.
It’s this masterful art that yielded me a new appreciation for her this morning and in doing so taught me a beautiful lesson. On Valentine’s Day of this year our beloved old gal Lucy died. Old age and years of good dog living caught up with her. Tears still fill my eyes when I think of that day. When I knew without a doubt that she was dying, I explained it to my children, the Martin 3, and watched them beg and plead for her to stay. How Shelton wept and wailed for his beloved friend who filled nearly every conscious memory he had. With Charlotte, quiet and sensitive, silent tears fell. Her only words were whispered in my ear that Lucy knew all her secrets and was a true and trusted friend. Maggie held Pepper tight. It was Pep’s behavior and whining which served as my confirmation that Lucy did not have long for this world.
My Mama says all the time there are things dogs just know. It was as if Lucy knew her job of training Pep to be a Martin was complete and she could peacefully depart. Despite the desperate pleas of her 13-year-old boy, depart she did, leaving the lone little Wiener to fill the gap. Since her departure I’ve come to some conclusions, loss and heartache seem to be the baseline lately, tears are a frequent occurrence. I’ve found myself thinking how stupid it is to cry over a dog, then the left brain kicks in and concludes the tears aren’t just over a dog. They are tears of grief. Grief over loved ones gone, childhoods morphing into adulthood, grief over circumstances and people not within my reach. Tears of cleansing and release. Tears of sadness and joy all rolled up into one.
This morning Pepper “Houdinied” her way into our bedroom while Scott and I were still in bed. He was sound asleep; me, not so much. The jingle of her cat bell, the only indicator of her presence. She quickly and carefully made her way up onto our bed and nudged Scott Martin with her cool, wet nose prompting him to roll over and give her the space and warmth she was looking for. I marveled at how something so small and weak could move something so big and strong. She was a mere 3 pounds, he weighs slightly a bit more than that. Scott barely missed a snooze when he yielded to her nudge. He rolled over effortlessly and she took her place beside him. I must admit I was in awe, I’ve tried all manner of techniques to facilitate such a roll over, I’m rarely as successful. Perhaps next time I’ll implement the cold, wet, nose trick.
Lesson learned: God is big. I am small. I am but a small a part of His big plan, yet despite that, He moves on my behalf. In the days of late I’ve been talking to Him about how He moves. Maybe not how so much as why, or how it would seem at times, not at all. He is bigger and He sees the whole picture. I am but a finite part of that. Once I asked a friend out of desperation “But what if he doesn’t?! What if He doesn’t do what I’m asking Him to and spare her life?!”
I was well beyond the bargaining stage and was convinced that my prayers would go unanswered. My dear friend, calmly and simply said, “Well then you have to trust that He is saving HER from something worse than death.”
I have never doubted that in that moment she was speaking for Jesus directly to my ears. Giving me an answer He knew I’d need to recall time and time again. He knew when I asked Him why or how or why not, that I’d be transported back to that table seated across from my friend in Cracker Barrel.
Even now I am transported to that window facing table, the one under the yellow bathing suit, cola girl advertisement. When my thoughts take me there I am always reminded that He does move. He loves His children, and often when He moves, it is an act of mercy. In His mercy, He sees the end from the beginning and can be trusted to do what is merciful and right and always what is best. Isaiah 55:9 says “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” His ways aren’t just better, they are best.
God’s ways aren’t just better, they are best.