“I want a dog, please!” Ryan pleaded with us.
He was only four years old. My husband and I agreed it was a wonderful idea, but thought it best to let Ryan have a dog when he was old enough to take care of one.
“We will get you a dog when you turn seven years old,” we promised. It also bought us time, time to rent a house that allowed pets.
As the years went by, Ryan pined for a furry friend. He dreamed of playing with his dog in the park, reading books to his puppy pal, and teaching him funny tricks. Excitedly, but patiently, he waited. And waited.
Ryan’s seventh birthday came and went. No dog. The landlord denied our request to keep a pet. We were disappointed that we could not keep our promise.
Within a few months, Simon found a new job in the Bay Area. As we prepared to move out of Los Angeles, we got our hopes up. Maybe this landlord will be kind enough to let us have a pet? While we hunted for houses in our new city, criteria like proximity to school and work, plenty of sunshine, a good yard, and spacious rooms took priority over the landlord’s willingness to permit pets on his property. But we knew that God was aware of our hearts’ desires, and we entrusted our hopes and plans to Him.
An extraordinary series of events led us to a house that not only suited our needs but also allowed pets. Just like us, the home owner had an only child, who was also seven years old. He had two dogs, and he strongly recommended that we get at least one dog!
When we broke the news to Ryan, he ran in circles, waving his hands in the air, and squealing with joy. “Let’s go to a store and pick a dog, today…now, please!” he begged. But when I explained to him how animal shelters worked, and how we needed to adopt a dog the right way, my sweet son understood, and was willing to wait a little longer to see his dream come true.
And so, our search began. We made a list of qualities we were looking for in a dog. We started browsing websites of local shelters within two weeks of moving to Nor Cal. We “liked” Facebook pages of dog rescue organizations. We spent hours filling out forms, chatting with shelter volunteers, and visiting pet adoption centers. Some organizations rejected us as being unsuitable for their pets while we rejected some dogs for not meeting our conditions.
Ryan’s excitement turned to disappointment. After a frustrating day at an adoption event, I encouraged my seven-year-old to be patient as he waited on God to provide. I prayed with him and assured him that God’s provision was always right and enough for us, His timing was always perfect.
Early the next morning, an online search of shelters threw up a result that caught my attention. A Maltese mix named Kyle was rescued by the San Jose Animal Care Center. He seemed to meet our requirements– small, over a year old, and hypoallergenic. My husband and I drove Ryan to the shelter that evening.
After a long wait, a volunteer brought in a skinny and bald but adorable dog to meet us. The little dog ran to Ryan and showered him with kisses. It was love at first sight!
As cute and cuddly as he was, Kyle was too excited to be at rest even for a few seconds. I was suspicious of his behavior. The volunteer gave us little to no information about his background or personality. They had found Kyle wandering the streets with badly matted hair only a few days ago.
Simon and Ryan were smitten by Kyle. I, on the other hand, was not sure he was the right fit for us. Much to my family’s disappointment and with a heavy heart, I voted no. The volunteer informed us that we may not get the chance to meet him again if we changed our decision. Kyle was a highly adoptable pooch.
We left the shelter without a dog.
Especially forlorn that night, Ryan cried and pleaded with me to reconsider. Simon, too, thought I had formed a wrong impression about Kyle. Their reaction made me uneasy.
What if I was wrong? Had I judged the dog too quickly?
After much thought, I changed my mind and announced to my family that if Kyle was still available the next day, we will bring him home.
When we reached the animal shelter Saturday morning, there was an unusually long line of potential adopters. “Please God, if this is Your will, let us take Kyle. I cannot bear to see Ryan’s heart shattered again,” I whispered a prayer.
To take my mind off the suspense, I started chatting with the lady next to me. “I’m here to adopt a dog,” she chatted, “I saw a really cute dog called “Kyle” on the website. I’m here to meet him.” Masking my shock, I asked her what number they had given her. Her number was 48. Ours was 47.
Whew! I did a little jig and gave God a high-five in my mind!
When our turn came, Ryan and I sprang from our seats, beaming with enthusiasm. We met Kyle again, filled out the paperwork, and took him home.
Within a few days, it became obvious that I was indeed wrong about our new family member. Kyle behaved differently in our house than he did at the shelter. He was friendly and affectionate, not skittish or nervous. All in all, he turned out to be perfect! And Ryan got his dog almost a month before he turned eight. We were able to keep our promise to our son.
Our plan was to find our son a companion to help him with the transition to a new school. Simon and I also hoped that taking care of a dog would teach Ryan to be more responsible and empathetic. That was our agenda.
But God’s agenda for us, His children, was different and better.
We had just moved to a new house, a new community, and a new city. We were confronted with unfamiliar surroundings. We were grappling with unusual situations. His plan was to teach us, amidst the commotion of change, to wait on Him and to trust Him with all our desires and needs.