THE DECISION—FINALLY REALLY MEETING SCRUGGS
(9TH installment of Scruggs and Samantha, by Mary de la Pena)
Once again I bolted from the room of the cattery; adoption was out of the question!
You would have thought I should have learned to avoid the large-dog kennel by then. But I am an alarmingly slow learner. At least that was what I said to myself as I again passed by the Rottweiler.
“One more chance,” I said. Just one more chance.
I had passed by kennel 83 so quickly I had not even looked at its occupant. I expected to see the same gyrations and happy dance I had seen before. Puzzled, I backed up to see what was going on with him.
There he sat. He was not moving, and his head was down. He knew I was there, I could tell from the twitch of his ears that he heard me. But there was no joyful dance, no twirling, no eager nose thrust through the bars. It was as if he had given me everything he had and knew it wasn’t enough.
At that moment, my heart broke. Before I had a conscious thought of what I was doing, I was crouched down by his cage door.
“Ah, boy, come here,” I said as I thrust my fingers through the wire mesh. “I’m sorry, boy. I’m sorry for ignoring you. Come here. Let me say ‘hello.’”
I was crooning and tearing up as I sat on the concrete floor, feet in the gutter. The dog looked up at me, his eyes shifted toward mine. His whole being telegraphed his hesitancy to again be disappointed.
God, I knew how he felt.
Love is so hard to find. Too much disappointment comes before true love is found. It is a test of faith to put a heart out there in the open with the danger that it will be smashed or ignored.
“Oh, baby boy,” I said, as all my past failings and disappointments washed over me. “Come here, baby. Let me give you a scratch.”
Slowly he got up and came to the cage door. Hesitatingly he put his nose to my fingers. I gently rubbed his nose. He backed up and looked at me. I met his eyes and then quickly lowered mine. No threat from me, no challenge in my heart.
He came back with a slight wag of his tail. He put the side of his face against the gate. I thrust my fingers deeper into the cage and scratched his ears. With a deep sigh he moved his body closer to me, stretching his neck. I gave it a good solid scrubbing, feeling the rough texture of his coat. I could also feel scabs on his throat and behind his ears. Briefly I wondered at the circumstances that brought him to the shelter. But just by looking at him, I knew they probably weren’t good. He was thin, dirty, scabby, and covered with flea droppings. He hadn’t had a bath or flea dip or enough food for a long time. Yet, here he was, giving me another chance to really see him. What I saw was a dog of the streets, trying to connect with a human; a dog brave enough to put his heart out there for me to take.
Rubbing this dog’s face, and seeing the tentative wag of his tail he held between his legs, something stirred within me. I thought of the bumps and bruises in my own life. Was I as brave as this dog? Had I given my husband another chance to see me beyond the wall I had erected to hide my grief? Was I giving God my full faith that he would see me through my travails?
It was as if the dog listened to my heart and heard me. He turned his face toward me, licking my hand and rubbing his head along the chain-link fence. His tail began to wag a little faster as he licked my hand again. In that moment I knew that he was something special. I also knew I couldn’t leave him behind in this cage.
I didn’t want another dog. I hadn’t looked for another dog. But God, in his infinite wisdom, gave me what I needed. And when I chose not to turn away, a feeling of peace so pure and clear hit my being; it was the knowingness I had long associated with the God whispering in my ear. This voice without a voice told me the dog’s name was “Scruggs.” I knew it with all my heart, and a prayer of thanks slipped from my lips with barely a conscious thought. I thanked God for this gift and decided the dog was going home with me. As I made this decision, and when I said the name out loud, the dog knew it, too.
“Scruggs,” I said, “you’re coming home with me.”
At the sound of his name he looked up at me. He heard the promise in my voice and began a celebratory dance of twirls and tail-wagging, with a happy grin and a joyous light in his eyes. Together we made the decision that the de la Peña household had grown by yet another dog.
And his name was Scruggs