Three-year-old Ezra calls me from his face-up position on the living room floor. A bulky mass of grey and black wool obliterates his torso. Both boy and dog are grinning.
“Nana! Cash is lyin’ on me ‘gain. Could you git him off, please?”
“Come, Cash,” I call. The dog looks up, all innocent. “Who, me?” Only a canine can say that without speaking.
The Preacher observes. “Smart dog.” Our youngest grandbean’s ceaseless activity wearies him too.
Ezra rolls over and wiggles from under his gentle captor. Cash plops back down on the warm space he left. In a minute, I’m willing to bet, the situation will reverse and Ezra will take the top spot. That’s how they go, these two. Boy on dog. Dog on boy. Complete trust. Flip and flop and follow all day. And last night, during Ezra’s first ever sleepover, Cash never left his position on the floor beside Ezra’s low bed, faithful and protective in the dark. One would assume the pair has grown up together.
But Cash only joined our family a month ago at this writing. He came to us as a highly trained companion dog. His quiet habits (we haven’t heard him bark yet) and easygoing, happy nature fit us perfectly. Even GraceCat has adapted, unable to resist the occasional opportunity to bat at his new house-mate’s long hair. “Take that, usurper.” (I can read that cat.) Cash ignores the jabs.
Just one thing saddens me about Cash. An older adoptee at eight, he’s already more than half-lived the maximum life expectancy of twelve to fifteen years for Schapendoes. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for who he is at the moment. For the hope of even four or five more years with our Dutch Sheepdog. Already he has taught me things about faithfulness. Obedience. Joy. Patience.
“Look, Nana,” squeals Ezra, a bit later. He’s perched in my recliner, Cash’s top half on his lap. “Cash is standing up!”
“Wow! He’s standing tall on his hind legs!”
Ezra pushes the dog away. Stands beside the chair, tall as a three-year old can stretch. “Look, Nana. I kin stand on MY hind legs too – see?”
I stifle my grin. “Can you stand on your front legs also?”
He glances at his friend’s front legs, stretches out his arms and gives them a puzzled look. “Nana. Dese are my HANDS.” He spreads his fingers, making his point. “I haf chust hind legs!”
Oh, sweet boy. Sweet funny boy. You with the hind legs and hands; with ceaseless motion in your muscles. This dog will leave us sad before you finish growing. But I pray, in the hopefully long life ahead of you, you are blessed to learn this same kind of trust, this utter delight, in a far more vital relationship with the one who created you both. The Jesus who paid attention to little boys. The God who surely understands their need for a furry friend.
Perhaps there’s a reason the word dog is spelled so similarly to God.
“Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?” Job 35:11