I took my Bible and coffee out to the back porch this morning, intending to have a quiet time in God's Word while enjoying the beautiful summer day. I didn't expect to enjoy Pepper, the old farm dog whose presence has often annoyed me.
When I was in high school, reading on the back porch meant dealing with a jumpy dog who wouldn't sit still, got my fabric wet with her drool, and got her doggy breath all over my face. (Yes, I can smell without a nose. Don't ask me how that works...)
I would go out to the porch with great intentions, but before too long usually headed back inside. I was willing to pet the dog, but only in moderation. In the words of one of my mentors, "Dogs just gross me out."
Please don't hate me, dog lovers. I love dogs in theory. I love the idea that a pet can become your best friend. I think it's sweet when people love their dogs and dote on them. I have just never mourned the fact that I'm allergic and have an impending asthma attack as a legitimate reason never to have them in my house. :) (Yes... I have asthma without a nose, too... and we wouldn't want my stuffing to tighten up so I couldn't breathe, now would we?)
This morning this reaction was different. I was sitting on the swing, contentedly reading my Bible, and the dog came up. This time, she just looked at me a little mournfully. She quietly sat down. I reached out and petted her, then returned to my Bible. Pepper stood up slowly and opened her mouth, drooling on the concrete as she panted for more.
The dog isn't jumpy anymore. She's entering her old age, and the end doesn't seem to be too far away. She moves slowly and sadly, and when I petted her again before I went inside, she seemed grateful that anyone would pay attention to her at all. She doesn't want to play like she used to. She just wants a friend.
I started to realize that the dog has been faithfully there. She's barked to let me know when strangers drive on the farm. She's played with me when I wanted her to, and whined when I didn't. She's put up with being loved by some of us and ignored by others, but she still loves us all the same.
Now, as she's getting older, I'm realizing that the farm won't quite be the same without her. It's already tangibly different. She doesn't run up to meet me anymore when I get home from work. She just comes and finds me and looks mournfully at me on the porch swing. She drools on the concrete instead of my fabric, and lies down behind the swing as I read instead of jumping on me.
And, yes, dog lovers, I think I'm going to miss her.
With love from an absolute doll,