Good Monday morning y’all! Things are in full swing with the Pet Lover Photo Contest & Giveaway. Photos are coming in! Check them out on Pinterest and don’t forget to send your favorite photo of your pet. Click here for more details. Today we have our first guest post. Rebeka Borshevsky! A fellow Goldstone Imp and writer, she shares a bit about her journey with dogs. Please welcome her!
D.O.G.: Dear, Odd, Grace
By Rebeka Borshevsky
Growing up, I’ve never been without a dog. In my twenty years of life, I’ve seen two best friends come and go, and right now I’m enjoying time with my adorable, ‘never-wants-to-grow-up,’ Labrador/German Shepherd/Hound mix, pictured below.
But the journey hasn’t been easy. The first dog I remember was a Labrador/Staffordshire Terrier mix. When I was two and a half years old, I was jumping up and down on his back. (Not smart, right?) He turned around and bit me in the face. The night was full of blood and screaming and needles. For the longest time afterwards, I hated the sight of needles—and blood.
Oddly enough, after this event I wasn’t afraid of him, or other dogs. At least, not yet. His name was Blue, and I adored him with all my heart. Even though he left a visible scar on my face, he was also my best friend. I remember times in the winter when I would wander outside and lie down in the snow. Blue would come and sniff my face, looking concerned, as though he wanted to be sure I was still alive.
He never bit me again, and I never clambered all over him like he was an overgrown toy. Somehow, we had come to a silent truce. I can’t explain how it happened. Perhaps knowing he had taken my blood made him more mine, somehow. Or perhaps it was simply the essence of grace. I forgave him for biting me, didn’t bring it up again in the remainder of our relationship. I mourned him when he died. Amazing how easy grace runs through the lives of children, isn’t it? Looking back now, I wish I could embrace that grace as an adult as easily as I shared it with my dog as a child.
I didn’t fear Blue, but after he died, we got a new dog. She was a pound pup, only about a year or two old. But she’d been dumped in the countryside and had to forage to survive. She’d just had puppies herself, and my dad thought she might have been bred for her pups and then abandoned.
Her name was Jesse, and she was a fearful thing, nothing like the solid comfort Blue had been. Her nervousness brought the fear I’d never felt in Blue’s presence to the forefront. For years I was shy of her, not trusting, just as she didn’t trust us humans. I was shy around other dogs as well, always certain they would jump at me with their snapping white teeth.
But time does something with trust—it builds it. Eventually, I found that same grace with Jesse that I’d experienced with Blue. This grace showed itself through trust. When I was sad, I would go outside and sit with her, running my hands through her short fur and telling her my troubles. And she would sit, ever still, and listen. She became my comforter. Her nervous mistrust had faded, and I came to love her with as much fervour as I had adored Blue. I came to trust her, but even more so, she trusted me, a human, someone she had no reason to trust after all that had happened to her. She let me pet her, let me lead her on the leash.
She was a beautiful dog and could run like the wind. She was loyal and it makes me want to cry when I saw what she had become and thought about what she might have been from the very start if people hadn’t mistreated her.
Blue has helped me understand the grace of forgiveness, and Jesse has helped me understand the grace entailed in going out on a limb and trusting a once near-wild thing. The results from both can surprise us beyond our wildest imaginings.
Lastly, my third and present dog. I named him, actually. His name is Oz, because as soon as I saw him I knew he was quirky. And Oz seemed like the quirkiest name ever. He’s our ‘miracle pup,’ because he was a pound puppy and never supposed to be ours. When we went to the Humane Society to look for a new dog a few months after we had buried Jesse and planted wildflowers over her grave, we met this eight week old Labrador puppy named Cooper. They told us he was already promised to someone, but we’d fallen under his spell and played with him anyways.
On our way home, we couldn’t help but pray that he would somehow be ours.
Well, to our disbelief, the person who was supposed to take Cooper never showed up. And therefore, he was ours! (And so his name changed from Cooper to Oz.) Apparently, that had happened THREE TIMES to our poor baby. Which is truly miraculous, because he’s seriously the most loving dog you could ever meet. He loves people and is a bundle of energy. He’s awkward, too, bumping his head on coffee tables and walking into parked cars and ‘House for Sale’ signs.
I’m not making this up. If I had a camera nearby for every crazy antic Oz got into, I might have an award-winning ‘America’s Funniest Home Video’ submission.
But in all seriousness, Oz has taught me the importance of having the grace to laugh at myself. Every time he does something ridiculous, he just wags his tail and moves on with his life. It doesn’t faze him. (Of course, he is a dog, but I’ve learned that God uses the most simple of things to teach us the greatest of lessons.)
And, unlike him, I’m not very good at laughing at myself. When I do something stupid, I’m more likely to agonize over it until my head hurts, re-assess it to pieces. Be anxious instead of just rolling back my shoulders and shaking it out and letting God lead me on. Oz makes me laugh, and in doing so, makes me love laughter and life all the more. And makes me realize that in order to be a Light in the world, I have to take myself a little bit more lightly. (Yes, I dared to try to be punny. Please forgive me.)
In the end, dogs can teach us two-leggers a lot. You just have to be willing to listen to what they have to say—even though they don’t talk to us by the traditional method. And if you don’t have a dog, I urge you to consider it. I have been so blessed with the dogs that have graced my life—and taught me so much about how to live it with grace.
Rebeka Borshevsky has always been surrounded by dogs. And now, she is blessed by two cats as well. She lives and writes in the Great White North, splitting her time between the small town where she grew up and the big city where she attends university. You can learn more about her various shenanigans—her faith, the books she reads and reviews, and her various writing adventures—on her blog, The Other World.