We have unpaid ministerial staff at our house. Unpaid, unless you count bread gulps, mountains of Purina, and catnip baubles.
The heart ground of our clan is Zoe, our black lab (mostly) dog. She has not always been appreciated. While a puppy, she was BAD. Furniture still bears witness to her penchant for tearing and ripping and chewing. She was wild and excited most of the time. We wondered what kind of crazy lunacy led us to take on a puppy with three small children. There were thoughts of throwing in the towel. But we prevailed, figuring that we didn’t want our kids to get the message that if they misbehaved, they would be shipped off to another home.
Thank goodness for that. As she has aged, Zoe has blessed us beyond the price of any piece of furniture or vexation. She is the first to greet anyone coming home; tail wagging and a slipper or shoe in her mouth as gift. She is the warm heart always available to my children. When tears and the huge challenge of living have swept them through the years and some of that challenge had to do with parents, Zoe was the go-to for steadfast and uncomplicated love.
She smells, yes. She gets wild about garbage trucks and newspaper deliveries, yes. And she is teacher of love.
The cat? Well, that’s another story. We got Ball as a chance for Jamie to have “his own” critter. Foolish was that notion. Because as we came to learn, cats are no one’s own. They are their own. And so it is with Ball. He is insistent that he be treated with a flow of food. He makes the dog cower because he is one bad hombre. And yet, when the day has been long and the soul wrung, Ball finds his way to laps and shares his warmth and rumble.
I read in the morning’s paper about what goes on in designer puppy mills. It sounds foul. What I know is this: the dog that was born under a trailer in rural Duluth and the cat that was taken in from a shelter in Minneapolis are grace in our lives. In the choreography that is life in our home, hearts walk on four legs.