The Problem of Why

About three months ago, my dog died.  She was only six years old.  She got sick, she was in pain, and she had to be put down.  I only wrote about Patti on this blog once, about how it took me a long time to really love her.  She was stubborn, frustrating, difficult.  I struggled to train her and worked really hard.  I had to improvise a lot.  You couldn’t follow the rules of the training methods with her.  Patti made her own rules.

I started calling her my “little lesson in acceptance.”  I wanted a Westie because they’re adorable.  I really wasn’t prepared for her energy and her strong will.  She wasn’t a lap dog and wouldn’t sleep in the bed.  She always wanted to be in the middle of whatever was going on.  She wasn’t the dog I hoped she would be but I grew to love her and accept her for who she was, a loud, high-spirited, loving, sweet, adorable, playful terrier.  Despite her anxiety and refusal to be groomed, we had a good time together.  She would “tap” your leg when she wanted something and growl at you when she wanted to play.  We spent long afternoons sitting on the swing outside and evenings throwing the ball around the living room.

Her death hit me hard, a lot harder than I expected.  It was the middle of tax season so I had to get on with the work, get on with life, but I cried nearly every day.  There were holes all through my life where she used to be.  The dining chair no longer sits under the window in the living room so she can see out.  Her blanket isn’t on the left seat of the couch.  Her bowl isn’t in the kitchen.  And I was angry.  I asked God, Why?  Why take my dog?  She was still so young.  It wasn’t her time.  The Bible says you’re good, how is this good?  How is this grief, this hole in my life, this pain, good?

He didn’t answer why.  After a few weeks, on my Saturday morning drive to work, He simply said, “It’s My will.”  You see, He is the sovereign God of the universe.  When we sign up to walk with Him, we sign up to play by His rules.  And we don’t get an explanation.  We are called to walk by faith, not by sight.  I don’t see why as a question anymore.  I see it as a problem.  Every time I ask why He does something, I’m lacking faith.  I have to cut “why” out of my vocabulary.  Because the why doesn’t matter.  What matters is that He is good.

Do I still cry for Patti?  Yes.  Does it still hurt?  Yes.  Is He still good?  Yes.  Patti taught me a lot about dog ownership and myself.  Her death taught me about faith.  It taught me that even when the storm is raging and the pain is so bad that it’s like the world is ending, I still know God is good.  Because three years ago I chose to pick up my cross and follow Him.  Where He wants me I will go, no matter what it costs.

When the God who made the universe said, “It’s My will,” I said, “Okay.”


It Wasn’t Love at First Sight

I’m not a big believer in love at first sight when it comes to humans. I think you need to get to know someone before you can fall in love with them. Dogs, on the other hand, you can love at first contact. I’ve had dogs I immediately loved, like Bowser and Lily. Patti was a different case.

I first met Patti at the breeder’s. I saw her from a distance in a small fence with two other Westies that looked exactly like her. The breeder let them out and they ran all around us. I didn’t know which one to pick because they all seemed the same. I eventually picked one and after the paperwork was done and the money (which I had saved over four years) was exchanged, we headed for home. I finally had my very own dog.

Don’t get me wrong, Patti was an adorable puppy. She was just mean as hell. If you tried to play with her she would bite your hands instead of the toy. If you came into her gated off area she would bite your ankles. She didn’t want to be picked up. I tried to do the crate training and she wouldn’t sleep. I eventually ended up using my room as her “crate.” She would sleep on the bottom shelf of my night stand. Don’t know why but she liked it. She was by far the most stubborn dog I had ever come in contact with.

Patti was the first dog I ever took to obedience classes. I now say that I didn’t train Patti so much as break her. Establishing my dominance was challenging to say the least. I put in a lot of work training her and it definitely paid off. She’s trained to go outside and to go on puppy pads since she had to stay home by herself all day. She’s a smart dog and understands a myriad of words and commands. She still has her days when she doesn’t want to obey them though.

It took me awhile to love Patti. I was scared there in the beginning that she might be a biter and we’d have to get rid of her but she came around. It wasn’t until she was about two years old that I really started to love her. And it wasn’t just her. I had to come to terms with the fact that she’s not like the other dogs we’ve had. She has her independent streak and doesn’t want to sleep in the bed. I had to learn to love her for who she is and not what I thought she should be.

Now, I can’t imagine not having her around. She loves to sit with me on the swing on warm days and go for rides in the car. I love seeing her little face when I open the door at the end of the day and I love giving her a biscuit in the morning. I love watching her jump up and catch a tennis ball in mid-air and she loves doing it.

It’s been four years since the day we met and it’s been four years of frustration, joy, anger, and cuddles. We may not be a story of love at first sight, Patti and me, but we are a love story nonetheless.