The Winnie Story
When I was nine, I had this adorable little stuffed puppy named Kip that was the happy companion to me and my two best friends, Kirsten and Kit the American Girl dolls. She had reddish-blonde fur with a white chest and was as faithful as a stuffed dog could ever be.
Also when I was nine I was watching Toy Story 1 and 2 on rotation and really believing in those movies.
Put those two together and you have little Lindsey praying regularly that Kip would come to life. Yes. That's what I spent my young prayers on. Every night.
The puppy phase really didn't ever end for me. On the cusp of graduating college and feeling like any minute now I could get a dog, I spent hours on Pinterest staring at puppies. Made a list of names. Called the animal shelters around me. Tried to work out how in the world I could afford it. In reality, I could barely keep a plant alive let alone start a new job and figure out how to keep a dog thriving. In short, it was not going to happen. So I wrote essays on the theme of waiting like I was really being tested. Got ugly jealous of people who owned cute four-legged things. Friends all over the place were getting them and I was losing it. I stopped people on their walks to take pictures of their puppy. Felt like my life would drastically improve if ONLY I HAD A STINKING DOG.
And finally, a year later, I reached a point where I deemed myself ready. (Admittedly, this is still questionable.) And on my five hundredth time looking at animal shelters, I came across this picture:
And I knew she was supposed to be mine. I really, really did.
I couldn't believe it. She was perfect. The rescue puppy jackpot.
Now for this adoption place you had to be 24 to adopt, and at the time I was shy of that, so mom had to be the prime communicator. We filled out five hundred forms, explained how we'd train her (seriously, you had to have a training game plan. It was the most intense puppy adoption process I've ever heard of), and then they made you pick two other dogs as your backup picks. I didn't super love that. I didn't want "backup options."
And then we waited. I was giddy hopeful. Until my mom got a call two days later with the news...she had been adopted.
I missed her by one day.
Sweet mom bargained on the phone with the lady. She told her that her daughter felt like the Lord was giving her this puppy, did she not get that? The lady was a little stumped on that one. But she politely said she had no control, the other family got there first. Mom texted me in the middle of the day to break the news, and I was so certain this dog was supposed to be mine I thought she was playing a cruel joke. It took me calling her twice to confirm that I really had lost her. I was not okay. I sat back down at my desk and tried to keep my crying quiet so my coworkers wouldn't know I was over-attached to something I had only seen three pictures of.
It was probably more than the dog.
When college ended and work started, my community shifted more than I saw coming. People moved. Time got very, very limited. I wrestled with a lot of fears about life and what to do with it. I knew a puppy might not be an answer, but goodness it sounded like a good thing. And when the puppy that I thought was mine was in fact not mine, it led to a very teary Friday afternoon.
I drove home that day feeling the weight of being out of control. Couldn't even buy a companion before someone else claimed her. I ugly sobbed in my little car and I told God I realized I was not commanding this ship and that there were probably other puppies in the world and I'll try to not fall apart every time I see one and I realize I probably shouldn't even be getting a puppy, but if it was all the same, I would really love one.
10 minutes later, still in my car, I got a call. The lady excitedly spewed words out -- the family backed out, couldn't believe it, she tried calling my mom but she knew I was the attached one anyway... do I want her? I thought I was going to throw up. I said yes five thousand times. I don't know who was more excited, me or the lady who was off the hook in ruining a gift from the Lord. One day later, the previously named Darla and now named Winnie was in my arms and she looked highly unamused and I knew we were going to get along just fine.
Winnie is one year old now, and for the record she didn't magically fix my community problems or erase my fears on life. In fact, she's made it really hard to keep my clothes and couch free of fur and that is a large bummer. But I was looking at her the other day and all the sudden I remembered my little Kip doll, the spitting image of red-blonde fur and a white patch on her chest. And I hugged her tight and whispered a thanks for such a sweet gift. An adorable and over-loving answer to a nine year old's prayer.
It's hard to not love life a little more when you have something that constantly attacks everyone with her joy. (And in this case, my best friend Sarah who did not see it coming and therefore you can't even see her in this photo. Winnie is also a camera hog.)