Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Meet Sneakers. He's quite possibly the most evil dog that ever lived. I know because he was our family pet from the time I was in 6th grade until he died a few years ago. He's a legend in my hometown, and people still tell his stories to this day. My mom picked out the name "Sneakers" because his white paws made it look like he was wearing shoes. But no-one else ever called him by that name. We all called him Pookie. It was ironic that he had a lover's pet name because there was no love in that dog. While I lived at home, he slept under my bed. I would have to superman dive under the covers at night so he wouldn't bite my toes. He said goodnight with a 2 minute growl from under the box spring. He chased away every cat in the neighborhood. Come to think of it, he chased every solicitor away, too. When the door bell rang, he'd jump up on the chair next to the window and try to attack people through the glass. He made Trick-or-Treaters drop their candy and run for their lives. He ruined a lot of curtains.
Throughout the day, he would move from hide-out to hide-out, lurking behind chairs, in corners, or under the recliner. You definitely didn't want to get up in the middle of the night for a drink of water. Pookie could be anywhere. He wasn't a dog that you could kiss on the nose, either. He'd rip your face off. In fact, virtually no-one outside of the family could even pet him. It became a game to our friends to see who could touch Pookie without getting bit. The trick was to dangle your arm on the side of the couch for 5 minutes and let him slowly come to you. If he nudged you with his nose, you could scratch him behind the ears. But God forbid you make any sudden moves or he'd turn around and bite. On the rare occasion that someone actually pet him, they'd want us to take a picture to prove it. It meant serious bragging rights because everyone was terrified of that dog. We knew that if good dogs died young, Pookie was going to live forever. And he practically did.
Looking back, I'm surprised my parents kept him. He was a real liability. But my mom never saw it that way. She loved that dog. In fact, she called him her "love pup". He'd ride with her in the car when she took us to school, and he'd keep her company throughout the day. Whenever he'd growl, she'd say, "Sneakers, quit being naughty." Right. Like that was going to help. Mom had the patience of Job with that dog. She was the only one that could bathe him, and cut his hair. She would do it in sections as he would allow it. For several days, he'd look absolutely ridiculous walking around with a quarter of one side clipped. Sometimes, Mom would cut whatever side was facing up while he slept. Then she'd wait for another day when he was sleeping on his other side, and she'd finish the job....with only a few minor puncture wounds on her hands. Everyone wandered what in the world she saw in that dog.
That's the thing about my mom. She saw the best in everyone...even our evil dog. In my thirty three years of life, I can't remember a single instance when she had ever said an unkind word about anyone. It's remarkable, actually. No matter how mean, or ridiculous, or awful a person was, she would find something kind to say about them. If we spoke of political leaders we despised, she'd say, "Now Nell, have you prayed for that man? He is our leader, and he needs our prayers during this time." Whenever I came home from school and complained about a bully, she would tell me to pray for my enemies because it would soften my heart toward them. When I passed judgement upon someone who did something horrible, she would say, "But for the grace of God, that might be us." She always, always, always put herself in someone else's shoes. She always considered the fact that at any given moment, people could be going through something so tough that it made them act in a way that was out of character for them. She chose to see the spark of goodness in the darkest of people.When people hurt her, she would pray that they would experience the love of Jesus. Then she would remind us that hurting people hurt other people. She encouraged us to pray that God would take their hurt away.
That woman was one of a kind, and I miss her horribly. It would be a struggle to imitate a fraction of her overwhelming kindness. I feel so blessed to have had her loving example in my life.
Pookie got old, and lost his sight, his hearing, and the ability to stand up. He had seizures quite often, and my mom stayed right by his side through it all. After he died, my mom cried for days. It was no big loss to most people, but it was devastating for Mom. She didn't see an evil dog like the rest of us did. No. She saw a companion and a friend. She saw a dog that just needed more love, extra kindness, and a little understanding. Mom's "Love Pup" died at nearly 22 years of age.