You know they’re coming … some dog pics…. lots of dog pics. She’s soooooo cute!

We’re not sure who she is, yet. I keep asking her. “Who are you? You schmookey – oookey – cute thing?” She just looks up at me with those big brown eyes and licks my hand while my kids stand close by rolling their eyes and moaning to each other about how weird I am. Yeah, whatever. I’m a die-hard dork. I talk to dogs … and am prone to self-embarrassment. Life’s too short to get tripped up by such things. Thank goodness for dogs who love and accept unconditionally.

True to form, we’ve found ourselves in a naming predicament. It shocks people. Usually a dog (or child!) is named before they come home. Not so in our house. Soon we’ll arrive at agreement (“She needs a name,” the vet told us this week. “For training purposes, you’ll need consistency.” After asking the names under consideration, He voted to zip Pippen. “That’s a yippy, little dog name.” Hmmm… he and Jon must have been talking.)

Name or no name, the kids have been spot on taking responsibility… without a single complaint… even without arguing. They told me the other day, “If we forget, gripe or push back, just say ‘Contract’ – and we’ll remember.” Dog incentive has been great. If only the “Contract” worked for everything else!

They’ve been feeding, picking up poop, monitoring, even bathing with gusto.

We ventured to Urban Dogg, a self-service dog wash. No Name wasn’t too sure about the surroundings. The kids consoled, then

fired up the suds. It took everything I had (and a little scolding, “MOM! We can do it!) to get out of the way and let them care for their dog.

Did they know what they were doing? No. But they learned. I stayed on the other side of the glass and let them handle it all. Urban Dogg girl Kelly was close at hand to help as needed.

The truth never fails to hit me in the face. The more I let them be responsible – or even shove responsibility on their plates, the more they venture into unchartered territory and succeed. They’re learning that they really can do whatever they put their minds to. Daunting tasks are being shrunk to minimal non-events. Self-esteem is strengthened and dreams (like having a dog) are being realized.

Potholes still dot the path, but the road is worth traveling. I’ve had to remind Jon a few times as we endure get-me-out-of-this-kennel barking in the middle of the night.

Another great lesson for us and the kids. Sometimes you just have to suffer agony to get to the other side where contentment lies.

Ahhh… the unconditional love of a dog. Even after being terrorized by the turbo-powered blow dryer (meant for grown dogs but used by the newbies to dry their puppy – picture jet propulsion), the pup melted into the arms of her owners, licking their faces as if they were the ones needing comfort. We’re hoping this unconditional love will smooth some bumps on our teens’ roads where everyone seems out to get you.

Who knows, maybe they will be able to grasp one of the many facets of their heavenly Father. When looking at their earthly parents these days, they feel a load of judgement – not so much love. Maybe through this dog, they will get a taste of what it feels like to be loved no matter what and be drawn to the One who is the author of the concept.

Thanks for walking the road with me… and Happy Summer!!!! Tune in next week for some great summer read ideas from our new Book Nook gals (my super smart well-read friends whom I’ve coerced into sharing. Watch out… you never know when I just might convince you to share!!)


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