The girls knew I was against it from the very beginning. “Nope! Sorry!” I said. “It costs way too much and takes so much responsibility!” “We can’t have one in the house — I’m asthmatic.” So after a year’s worth of prodding, begging and urging from Mandi and Finleigh, in addition to the funds they raised on their own to purchase it, I gave in. After all, I was outnumbered, 2 to 1.
And so the girls bought a dog. Finleigh named her Hazel.
They brought her home in January of 2019 and ever since, I’m not gonna lie, she’s become a part of our family. This Cavachon (half Bischon Frise, half King Charles Cavalier) is simply the cutest most loving dog I’ve ever known. She adores playing with us, teasing us, and running after her toys. She loves it when Mommy and Sissy rub her tummy and feed her treats for the tricks she’s learned. Additionally, the girls trained Hazel to ring a set of jingle bells so that we know when she needs to go outside. This little ball of joy is our pet, our dog, and the 4th member of the Watson family.
But recently, I thought about how the Lord chose Hazel specifically for us, to teach us about the character and love of God. Allow me to explain.
First, Hazel makes Mandi smile from ear to ear. Every morning when Mandi picks her up, holds Hazel in her arms, and shows her with sweet words Hazel gives little kisses back to Mandi. Mandi has taught Hazel many things and established authority in Hazel’s life; there is no doubt that our dog knows who’s the boss! Yet, Hazel respects Mandi and is often found curled up around Mandi’s shoulders on the couch or on her lap. However, while all these experiences are good, they add up to something even greater: I believe God sent Hazel to Mandi in particular to promote the emotional and mental health Mandi needs to keep cancer from returning in her body. I truly do. Depression and anxiety play a major part in how our bodies handle disease; having a pet that loves and yearns to be loved provides the special bond that someone needs to lower stress and blood pressure which helps build immunity to certain medical ailments. I know in my heart that Hazel has lifted Mandi’s spirits, put laughter in her heart, and given her the peace she otherwise might not have experienced without our precious puppy.
I give God praise for Hazel — after all, she’s good for Mandi’s emotional, mental and physical health...and I believe she’s the furriest anti-cancer regimen around!
Second, Hazel LOVES her Sissy! Finleigh dotes on Hazel as much as Mandi, and the bond these two “sisters” share is undeniable! When Finleigh walks down the stairs Hazel runs up to her and immediately jumps on Finleigh’s legs in order to be picked up and hugged. Hazel will jump on her legs over and over and over again; it’s almost as if she’s trying to tell Finleigh how much she loves her by trying to jump into her arms! Finleigh takes her outside at the right time, feeds her when necessary and takes her out for the occasional walk. And, there have been multiple times when Hazel has put a smile on Finleigh’s face, especially when Fin needed a pick-me-up from a difficult moment or when she needed a reminder to relax a bit more, or just to be reminded that she’ll never be lonely. Finleigh sees Hazel as the “constant” in her life that never changes; Hazel is always loyal and true, and though she’s not the perfect dog and doesn’t always cooperate, I think Finleigh’s found the sister she always wanted—except this sister came in the form of a canine!
I give God the praise for Hazel — after all, she brings a sense of sisterhood to Finleigh and provides a consistent support in her life.
Last, but definitely not least, God’s been tapping my spiritual shoulders to teach me something about myself...through Hazel.
Yes, you read that right.
I admit it. Our dog shows me Jesus.
At the end of a long day, when I open the kitchen door from the garage, the first person (usually) to greet me is Hazel. She will come bounding across the kitchen floor in my direction and I know this because I can hear the “tap-tap-tap” or her claws as they hit the laminate floors. With ears pulled back, she proceeds to jump on me, and opens her eyes fairly wide. After she calms down, she might sit there and wait for me to address her. And, since she hasn’t seen me all day, she will follow me throughout the main floor of our home, pausing only when I take a seat or stop to talk to one of the girls. What I’ve learned from Hazel is that while I am the least attentive to her (I am not as touchy-feely with her, especially since I am asthmatic), Hazel is unfazed. Her love for me is equal to that of the girls and there’s never a moment when she doesn’t desire to show me affection or greet me with a sweet lick of my ankle.
I’ve recently come to realize that Hazel is an instrument of God’s love for my girls —and for me! After all, our dog is our shadow, and even when the girls are around and I think I’m alone, I might turn around and there she is, there’s Hazel, waiting for me to play with her or simply to receive her love. I love that God acts like Hazel, too: I love that God desires to shower me with kindness, is always excited to see me, and never leaves my side. Hazel reminds me of the words of the Psalmist in Ps. 139:7-10 (NIV):
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise up on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Like Hazel, God is a constant friend and companion, loyal to the end, and always willing to bring joy to my heard through amazing grace.
I never wanted a dog in the first place, but I’m glad, deep down, that the girls’ desires for a dog won out. It’s true that I never wanted to care for a dog, but I’m grateful that our dog pines after me, thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread and reminds me of the peace I long for yet often ignore (much to my detriment). I’m happy that Hazel is more than just a dog; I’m thrilled that she’s a beloved member of our family and that she’s truly, undoubtedly, unrefutably…….
a reflection of God’s love in Christ for Mandi, Finleigh, and yes…...
even me :).
Thanking God for Canine Christ-likeness,
Pastor Will <>< John 3:30 ><>