The Empty Lap
Quite often I'm written to by people that admit to visiting the website frequently for one, or two years before they are finally able to get a puppy. Perhaps they lived in an apartment that would not allow dogs. Perhaps they had a job that required travel from home. Or sometimes it was purely financial...they just couldn't afford to get one. Occasionally they related they had been taking time to mourn the loss of a long-loved family pet. Sometimes they are simply a young person living at home where the parent says no to a dog.
Now these people are consumed by a feeling of longing for something they don't have. They want a puppy to hold and love. They have an empty place in their life. They feel this yearning and try to fill it with another puppy, thinking, if I can only have a dog as my companion I will be happy.
Those that can, acquire their new puppy. What a joy! It most certainly did add to their happiness. But what happens when the new wears off? Or the puppy is lost? Or the dog grows old and passes on?
And what about the others that are still on hold, unable to get their puppy? What happens while they wait?
'Puppy Hungry' defined by Queen Elizabeth Pocket Breeds: The longing to feel a puppy's adoring love, to pick up its pudgy squirming body, and to get its excited wet kisses on your face; having the belief, as one searching for its soul-mate, that this special puppy will take your loneliness away.
Only Puppy Love
I was thirteen when my family moved from the country into a rental house in town. A few months later mother decided we needed to send my dog to my uncle. She said it was no life being chained to a doghouse. Now Able had been my best friend for the last two years. Together we had shared experiences, and grown closer than Mom ever knew. What she thought were just a walks to the park, with Able trotting tamely leashed at my side, actually turned into wild escapades of shared adventure.
On reaching the park, we'd head past the swingsets, veering off the mown grass, following a leafy trail we'd found into the forest. The path dipped out of sight to a small creek. We'd leap rock to rock, and once across, I'd snap the leash off Able's collar and away we'd go.
Able was a beagle, and his nose was down and his tail was up. I lived through his dog eyes, reveled in the forest floor in a way only a dog could show me. Life was glorious when Able and I panted down deer trails and chased the scent of rabbits. We scrambled over massive rocks taller than two story buildings. We'd reach the flat top and sit there together, taking in that height, looking down at black water filled quarry holes, looking up at buzzards often circling close. That was our spring, summer, and fall.
Back at the house by winter I was too busy. School had started. My walks to the park became infrequent. It was too cold, so I didn't go out to walk with Able, and my mother would not consider letting him inside. I couldn't argue with her, it's no life being chained to a doghouse. So he was taken away. I would not have another dog for six years. And I missed him.
An Empty Heart
Do you find in your life an endless replacing of what was lost? What happens if we can't get another dog soon enough to fill the empty place and stanch the hurt when we lose our pet? Or if you were one of the unlucky ones, who have never gotten their dog to begin with, you are still waiting, and longing. Its painful to want for something. And we live in a world that doesn't want to wait. We might put the wrong thing in its place.
Some people fall into destructive habits, they take up smoking, drinking, and substances simply because they are lonely and unfulfilled. Some people are coping with pain and illness living on multiple prescription medications, some that may have adverse reactions in and of themselves. Others are suffering through divorce or living separated from a loved one during war, or agonizing the pain of death of a spouse or child. Sometimes we eat the wrong things and this leads to obesity, low energy, increasing sickness. We might make excuse for one bad choice saying it was better than having done another. Its our way of coping and we learn to rationalize. We could become promiscuous and on a whim establish relationships that don't last because we crave connection. You don't even have to leave your livingroom to do this as the television and computer are filled with sex. Living life only to try to find bits of happiness in the wrong things will come back to haunt you. Your future ability to make right choices will be affected. These bad habits will bring you down. And do you have children? What do you have to guide them if you are lost in yourself?
What gives us the most pain and torment in life is a broken relationship...whether from death, separation, or misunderstanding. It is the deepest torment we can endure. A dog is the most responsive of all the animals. The most likely to share your emotions and cuddle with you and feel sad with you. But the love of a dog can't give you advice and hope in the uncertain future.
Letting God In
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and send His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and He in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us." I John 4:7-19 NKJV
A Friend in Me
When I was fourteen, like many teenagers, I was lonely and insecure and unhappy. I found a Good News New Testament and read it, even carrying it to school. Religion was popular then, it was the Jesus Movement. But I searched for myself and found Jesus was the way and it changed my life. I remember with some amazement looking at my reflection in the mirror in the school lavatory and seeing a happy, inviting person looking back. Normally shy, I felt like bursting with joy I was so full of love and confidence. I quietly became a new person. My teachers noticed. I was able to contribute to class discussion. My grades improved. That summer I began candystriping at the hospital. I worked more hours than anyone had ever volunteered. The patients noticed. They encouraged me that I should be a nurse, which I later became. I found happiness in those years I did not have a dog by helping others and studying hard in school. And all the while I had a relationship with Jesus that filled me up, renewed me, and gave me the confidence to be better than I would have been. Because Jesus went with me.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither see Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:12-17 NKJV
So, is getting a dog the answer? One might help. A dog does encourage a person to live a healthier way. It instinctively knows what you both need when it asks to go out for a walk. Once in the sun, your spirits lift. And inside the house when it lays its head on your arm, you feel loved.
But is this kind of creature comfort enough? While emotional support therapy dogs do help ease our suffering, they can't fill the deepest longing of the heart. We were made to be social beings by the same Creator that gave us the devoted dog. We were made to have a connection with our Maker. We will always feel that longing -- that empty space -- needing to be filled until we reconnect to Jesus.
Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." John 14:23 NKJV