August 9, 2010

With bright eyes, her head held high, and her tail wagging, the small dog stayed near the beach the entire day, playing fetch in the lake with my brother and whoever else would indulge her for awhile. The yellow Labrador retriever wandered the camp looking for food, love, and attention. That’s when she came to us. That’s how she came to us.
“Jewell”, named for the lake we stayed on, came to us looking for love and acceptance. I don’t think she could’ve found a more loving bunch—all of our minds steeped in memories of wonderful dogs, our hearts tugging with nostalgic compassion and yearning to show Jewell as much love as we could.
Jewell was afraid.
Loving actions had no predictable outcome—she ate food only at a safe distance, though she had hungry eyes. A little pet here, a nibble of cheese there, and Jewell would stand close. A movement, another log on the fire, some change, and she would wander off for a moment and then wander back. Slowly, however, she began to trust—she stayed close for a little longer. The fear subsided slowly—we slowly became friends, and she slowly worked her way deeper into our hearts.
When I woke up the next morning, Jewell was curled up between my tent and the fire pit. She likely slept in our camp the entire night.
As we packed up our gear and readied the campsite for another family, Jewell sat close by, watching us intently, wagging her tail, lifting her ears. The inevitable moment was getting closer. We would be leaving, and the tension in the air was not from tiredness or anticipation of travel. Our voices would rise and fall, trying to figure out a way to keep Jewell close…but the conclusion was always the same. We would have to tell Jewell, with her bright, happy, eager heart, to stay. Jewell trusted us. With the truck loaded, she came when she was called. She loved us in return. Mistaking a family member as a stranger, she barked and growled to protect her people. Our hearts twisted within us. We had to tell her to stay. To find another family that would look after her, love her, and make her feel wonderful—just as she made us feel.
The journey away from the camp was a hard one. We sat with hard faces, trying not to cry while our hearts crumbled inside. The only thing that kept us going further away from Jewell was the faith that there would be someone else that would give her love and safety like we did—some wonderful people that could give this dog a great life.

“Perfect love drives out all fear.” 1 John 4:18


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