I fell in love with Sparky the first time I saw his picture. Our 15-year-old Yorkshire terrier had recently died, and I was lonesome. “I’ll just look,” I told my husband.
We learned that Sparky had been mistreated. Sparky’s hair was long, dirty, and matted. His “foster parents” cleaned him up, put a cute little scarf around his neck, and posted pictures on petfinder.com. We were hooked. He was a beautiful little dog on the outside, but we had no idea how hurt he was on the inside.
The first time we took Sparky outside, he was terrified. When he was spooked, which was often, he would run under a bed. He did this so often that we finally left his leash on him around the clock so we could pull him out of his hiding places.
He grew attached to my husband, but he was afraid of me. When I came near him, he would cower on my husband’s lap or run under a bed. I tried reasoning with him. “Come on, Sparky,” I pleaded. “You know you can trust me. I love you.” It didn’t help. I was ready to give up.
Then my husband went out of town for a few days. Suddenly I had the only lap in the house. The first time Sparky jumped onto it, I almost fell out of my chair. He sat rigidly while I patted him. But at least he came to tolerate me.
Sparky had no idea how to be a dog. We tried playing with him, tossing a ball, tugging on a sock, but he just sat there. It was eight months before he trusted me enough to take a treat out of my hand. Slowly, he started to relax. He grew to love being outside, and he liked going for walks. When snow covered the ground, he would roll on his back in it, like he was making a snow angel. He was cute, funny, and polite. By his one-year anniversary with us, we were friends—not best buds, but friends. Evidently he decided I wasn’t so bad after all.
I learned a lot from Sparky. I learned that scars on the inside are like scars on the outside; they never quite go away. I learned you can’t force someone—or a dog—to trust you. It takes time, patience, and lots of love. I learned that Sparky is a lot like me. Even though God has told me many times that He is trustworthy, I still have trouble trusting Him completely. I learned that just as we rescued Sparky, God rescued me. When I run away, He comes after me and brings me back. “Come on,” He pleads. “You can trust Me. I love you.”
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