We are now very happy dog owners of the most perfect fit for Maddie.
I grew up in the country and for most of my childhood, we always had a family dog, and at least one stray dog that would come and go.
One year, someone even had the audacity to dump an entire litter of puppies in our backyard.
Luckily, it was my 16th birthday and so for party favors, we just passed out puppies!
I don't remember our decisions to get dogs being any big deal, but the fact they became family was a big deal.
During my elementary school years, we had a cocker spaniel named Britches Wayne.
He was a great dog, and was supposed to be my responsibility.
As an 8 year old kid, I didn't realize the weight of that responsibility until one day my mom realized I had forgotten to feed him. She asked me how I would feel if she forgot to feed me one day, and from that day on, I resolved to never eat breakfast until after I had fed Britches Wayne.
That was wonderful until we left town for vacation and I didn't know if/when he was fed.
Mom was really confused when I refused to eat breakfast. Ha.
This decision to get a dog for Maddie has been over a year in the making.
In comparison to growing up and always having a family dog, that's a big deal!
About a year ago, I was REALLY wanting to get a dog.
We had a pug before Maddie was born and in 2013 when Maddie was 4 years old, she got cancer and we had to put her down.
Still one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
We weren't ready for another dog for quite awhile, but last year I was finally ready.
Kyle, on the other hand, was definitely NOT.
It just so happens I was reading Walking With God by John Eldridge.
In his book he talks about prayer being a two way communication.
He said to pray simple prayers, and you should expect to hear a response.
It was new territory for me, and Eldridge suggests starting with something small until you can tune your heart to hear the response of God.
I decided to pray about the dog.
I just simply asked if this was the right time to get a dog.
I heard an audible, "No."
It wasn't a voice outside myself, but it was distinct and my spirit knew it was God.
I was so heartbroken!
After pouting a bit, I asked, "how will I know when the time is right?"
And I heard, "You'll know. Trust Me, you'll know."
With that, I was confident we would someday get a dog, so I shifted my prayers to pray for the right dog for Maddie.
Fast forward a couple of weeks ago.
It seems like we've been enjoying a season of self-regulation when it comes to Maddie's sensory processing disorder.
That was until a couple of weeks ago, when things started falling apart.
We are now in an out-of-sync season.
Things are starting to bubble up and it's making life difficult again.
|Maddie's way of "playing ball" with Belle!|
I started wondering if a dog could help.
There's tons of research out there on how families are using therapy dogs to help autistic children, which a lot of sensory processing symptoms mimic.
All this time, I've been ready to get a dog, but Kyle hasn't.
Then one day he surprises us with an email he sent from work with the subject line, for Maddie's birthday. It was a link to goldendoodle puppies and he writes, "pick one."
That particular breeder was 4 hours away, so I began to search for someone closer.
I called one breeder only 45 minutes away, but her puppies wouldn't be ready to take home until early December.
Then, a friend noticed goldendoodle puppies for sale on Facebook.
She sent me contact info and Maddie and I went to meet the puppies.
Right away I knew I liked her!
We stayed for who knows how long, I just had a ton of questions and she was so honest and pleasant to talk to, and of course we fell in love with the puppies.
When Kyle thought we might have until December to get ready for a puppy, I think the thought of getting one RIGHT NOW seemed a little sudden.
He needed time to think about it.
That was a Thursday.
Friday night he said he needed one more night to think about it.
It's a lot of money to spend, and a decision that will affect many years into the future.
Saturday morning I left the house early to go for a run.
During my run, I get a call from the breeder.
I just knew she's calling as a courtesy to let me know the dog we liked had sold.
I anxiously finished my run and called her back.
She asked if we had found a puppy yet, and I told her no, bracing myself for the bad news to come.
And then she said, "You are going to think I'm crazy, but last night I was praying for you and praying you would find the right puppy for Maddie. Whether it's one of mine or not, I just prayed you would find what you are looking for. Then, I felt led to give you the dog you were looking at, so if you want her, she's yours!"
I couldn't believe it!
My mind immediately went back to, "You'll know. Trust Me, you'll know."
I really thought a stray dog would just show up on our lawn some day and that's how we would know.
Never in a million years, could I have dared to dream He would give us one of the most premium, sought after, and incredibly desired breeds of our time.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen!"
We plan on training Belle to be a therapy dog and then take it a step further to train her to work with Maddie specifically to help with some of her struggles.
It would be nice if Belle could intervene when Maddie begins her pacing back and forth.
Or, somehow cause a distraction when she grinds her teeth, obsessively stacks various groups of things around the house. or chews her thumbs with nonsensical vocalizations.
But our main task for Belle will be to provide the comfort Maddie needs to fall asleep, along with the courage to sleep in her own room.
She's got her work cut out for her, but I'm confident we have found the right girl for the task!
A very special thanks to my new friend and sister in Christ who was faithful in prayer and gave with a servant's heart and a huge smile on her face. May God bless you immeasurably more!