Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Prodigal Pup

Our dog Puppa is the nicest little dog... but over the years he's also been quite the rebel. Any chance he gets to sneak out the gate, he's gone. And if you go after him, he just runs. Just when you think you're gonna get him, he takes off again. He used to run to other people who would go after him, but as soon as he figured out that other people return him to us, he quit doing that! He's probably run away at least 10 times per year since we got him in 1999. Yep, he's quite the prodigal dog. Running wild and wastefully throughout the neighborhood, sniffing whatever he can get his nose into.

A couple of evenings ago I came home from work and opened up our gate so I could drive my car into the garage. At the same time, inside the house, Puppa was apparently throwing up and so Tracey rushed him to the door so he'd do it outside. When I walked back toward the house, Tracey told me that Puppa had just gotten loose. The temperature was barely above 0, so I told her that Puppa would be back before we knew it. In this weather, he barely even wants to come outside to do his regular 'business,' and when he does, he's outside for less than the time it takes to microwave myself a cup of hot water to make some tea!

Well, a few minutes went by, and no Puppa. I wondered aloud if maybe he had run into the garage while I was closing it, and I just didn't see him, but Tracey said she'd seen him run down the drive toward the street. So I started to get concerned. Like I said, in these temps, he's usually back in no time. So I went down the drive and looked up the street and around the corner, and didn't see him anywhere. It was dark, and because of all the snow we've had, there's lots of ploughed snow piled high on the sides of the streets, so it's hard to see anything.

All we could think of was how cold and scared he must be. Even in the cold weather, for some reason this time around, his instinct was to run away from the place where he was loved, and where he was safe and warm. Eventually Tracey got in the van to go look for him, while I was walking down the street, calling for him. Then, across the street I looked down the sidewalk, and there I could see him, hobbling slowly toward in my direction. At that moment I RAN to him. When I got to him, I could see that his feet were hurting from the coldness of the icy sidewalk, and when I picked him up he was shivering like I never seen him shiver before.

Was Puppa a prodigal? Sure! I can't see it being anything other than a wasteful use of energy to go out sniffing around in such cold weather! Was he stupid? I'd say it was kind of a stupid thing to do! :) Did I care about any of that? Not at all. I just wanted him home safe and sound. So I carried him home, brought him inside and wrapped him up in a warm blanket, petting him and telling him everything was ok now, and telling him there was never a need to run away again, because he has all he needs here at home. Not that he understood a word of what I was saying!

It was at that time that I realized the similarities (sort of) between this episode and the story of the prodigal son. The only character missing was the elder brother, because Mr. Nibbles the hamster was in his cage sleeping and he didn't care that we were throwing a welcome home party for Puppa!

The love of the Father is great. When He saw us far off, He ran to us and brought us home and didn't even make one ounce of a deal about our prodigal living. Instead He was filled with joy and threw royal robes around us and gave us the keys to His mansion, giving us the full benefits of sons. What a wonderful, loving God we have!


  1. Joel,
    I love this story!!! Beautiful! And thank you for posting the picture of Puppa (adorable name, too). Perfect illustration/analogy for the parable of the Prodigal Son!

    I can really understand the love and tenderness of you showing Puppa love after his little escapade. Although this situation is different, I can relate. Right after Thanksgiving, Howie got really sick with "Valley Fever." It's an awful virus that affects both humans and dogs (but humans cannot "catch" it from dogs), in which their lungs get infected with a type of spore common here in the Southwestern states.

    Well, Howie was super sick, in fact he wasn't eating and lost a lot of weight. I took him to the vet, and fortunately after a bunch of tests, she diagnosed him with it. I immediately started him on medication, and slowly he returned to normal health, which he is now. However, I might have to continue the medication for a few more months, because it's one of those viruses that has to be completely killed off.

    In any case, I love Howie so much. Being single with no children yet, he's like a kid to me. I was willing to spend (what I didn't have) for his vet visits and meds because I love him and want him to live a good long dog life (he's turning 1 year old on the 3rd).

    I know this does not relate at all to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but what I learned from the whole Valley Fever scare is that I would do anything for him (I had to take him to the vet, several follow-up calls initially with his waning health after the first few tests didn't show exactly what he had). This caused me to realize Papa's love for us. John 3:16, God so love the world He gave His one and only Son. Jesus DID do everything for us. He died for us! In today's "terms," Jesus would go broke for us to live, he'd take a bullet, He'd sell His house, whatever.

    Again, great post, Joel...and Happy New Year!

    P.S. Recent picture of Howie posted on my blog a couple days ago.

    ~Amy :)

  2. Our dog died this past year and "we" all cried! It's amazing how we love our dogs!! And you are right.....God's love is beyond our understanding!

    Now to another "bad" subject!!!! Your Iowa team rolled today and my Penn State team rolled over! Now how do I look at this situation? Was God more gracious to you? Oh well, there is always "next" year. Oops this is next year! Happy New Year Joel!!!

    Penn State Fan

  3. Amy,

    I can tell you really love Howie; you often talk about him so affectionately. My sister in law had lived in Florida, and she and her husband (now separated) had a couple of dogs and a bird or two, that she really considered her kids, since they never had any. It's true... we really will go out of our way to make sure our pets are healthy, and as you say, John 3:16 shows us how much greater is the love that our Father has for us!


    Yep, it's so hard to lose a pet... they really are a part of the family. And to repeat what you and Amy already said, God's love is so much bigger than that and is beyond our understanding.

    Sorry about your Nittany Lions. I was listening to the follow up to our own bowl game - the Outback Bowl, in which we sorely defeated South Carolina (sorry Matthew!) - and at the time the Rose Bowl game was tied at 7-7. Our local commentators were really rooting for the other Big Ten teams, as I was. Anyway, I didn't hear anything about it after that until now when you mentioned it and I went and looked up the score. Looks like all the damage was done in the 2nd quarter. Again, sorry to hear about the loss, but overall you guys had a stellar season!

  4. I cant comment here because I saw the pic of the pooch and the smart Alec in me wanted to say just one word, so I'll just keep it to myself because I value my health and welfare.

    Don't say it Leonard...

    Great analogy though, thanks for posting.


    ps. I should go now...

  5. Leonard,

    Yep, sometimes things are better left unsaid. :)

  6. I'm learning.

    Cute pooch though and I didn't realize he's a male so I may have gotten away with it.