This is a story of babies and dogs and love. Let me explain.
At 9:21 pm two evenings ago our son and daughter-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Because they’d been at the hospital since early morning, our daughter Bethany who lives with Peter and me, went to our son’s place, half an hour away, to walk their 2 big dogs and stay the night with them.
Because Bethany went on a mission of mercy and love, Peter and I got to dog-sit her fiance’s dog, Gizmo, who is currently living with us. Very confusing I know, but that’s been our life lately. One thing often leads to another – I believe it’s called the “ripple effect” – and before long you are doing something you hadn’t dreamed of. Most of you know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, Gizmo is very much a “people dog” – he craves attention, loves being talked to, and insists on being close to his people. He has made a habit of being Bethany’s nocturnal cuddler. He is as much like a baby as any dog can be! He’s lovable but very needy!
Because Bethany was elsewhere that night, it fell to Peter and me to meet Gizmo’s night-time need for nearness. Hoping that he wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t actually in our bed (silly me!), I settled Gizmo on the love seat at the foot of our bed. We all dozed off around 11 pm anticipating a good night’s sleep.
All was well until 1:57 am. Despite the fact that I was wearing my trusty ear plugs, I awoke to Gizmo’s whining and pacing.
“Gizmo, lie down,” I instructed him – but to no avail. I fervently hoped he didn’t need to go to the bathroom, even though I did. Hauling myself out of my comfy bed I made my trip and returned to my nest as quickly and quietly as I could. By this time Peter was awake and the dog was still unhappy.
“Maybe he’ll settle down,” Peter murmured hopefully. “Maybe he will,” I faithfully agreed.
But he didn’t.
“I think he wants to come on the bed with us”, I posited. “Let’s try it”, was my husband’s whispered response.
So up onto the bed jumped a delighted Gizmo. Wouldn’t you know it, he settled down between our feet and went right to sleep. What a dog – what a baby!
A few minutes later Peter too was back in dreamland. I, on the other hand, was now wide awake and thinking about this and that and everything in between.
I tossed and turned. My feet were toasty, but I wasn’t used to having a furry body in my bed. Trying to fall asleep was frustratingly futile. I watched the red numbers flip on my bedside clock. Sometime after 5 am I drifted off, but awakened at 5:30 am when Peter got up to get ready for work. I snatched a few more winks until Gizmo decided to bark a cheery good morning at 6:45 am. It was time for his first-of-the-day foray into the world outside to do his business!
I thought I was tired until I thought of my son and daughter-in-law. Joe and Carmen had spent hours laboring in love to bring a new life into the world. They must’ve been beyond exhausted. And they will no doubt have broken sleep and sleepless nights in the weeks and months to come. I have nothing to complain about!
This whole night-time adventure with dogs and babies has caused me to think again about love, how we live it out, and what it looks like practically in our daily (or nightly) lives.
The Bible says that love is the greatest gift.
It also says that love bears all things. Love “doggedly” persists – it never gives up. It keeps you motivated to do hard things. It inspires you to step up to the plate, to go the extra mile. It keeps you laboring and pushing until the baby is born. It may even require you to sacrifice a night of sleeping in your own bed, or perhaps even sharing it with a puppy.
I think I’ve just had another practical life lesson in how to live as Jesus would.
And by the way, Peter and I met our new grand-daughter, Madison Joy, when she was only 22 hours old. It was a blessing and a privilege to hold her, cuddle her, and stand in awe of her cuteness.
When she’s older I will tell Maddie stories. Among them will be the story of Babies and Dogs and Love – the story of the night she was born and how many people were already loving her.