Unconditional Love

A scruffy dog showed up on my front porch in the late fall. As I peeked out the window and spotted her, I groaned. Not again. I suspected that my other two dogs had sounded the “safe-place-jackpot-siren” throughout the neighborhood, and this one was now awaiting her entry. In an attitude unlike me, I shooed her off my porch and tried to gruffly say, “Go on home.” Determined, the scruffy dog came back an hour later and spread out on the front porch as if she owned the place. Again, I shooed her away. 

The next day, I saw the same scruffy dog almost get hit by a car at the stop sign near my house. I scooped her up quickly and put her in the back of my car, and I was off to find her home. I called my husband, Mr. Holly (another animal lover), who quickly left work. We started knocking on neighborhood doors and driving around searching endless leads.

After calling all of the area dog shelters, we decided to keep her in the garage overnight. We didn’t know if she had her shots or how she would interact with our other two dogs. We posted signs and followed up with the shelters, but after a couple of days, we still had no leads.

A light tan with white fur around her neck and the same color scheme polka-dotting her legs, she looked like a cross between an Australian shepherd and a collie. She took to me right away. Unable to find her home, I assumed she was a sheepherding dog who had lost her way or had wandered from the herd since she was found right after the herds had rolled through town. The funniest, awe-inspiring event of the year is the herding of the sheep which takes place in the late fall of Utah.

The sheep are herded from summer fields to winter fields by lots of horses, cowboys, and sheepherding dogs. They drive the thousands upon thousands of sheep right down the street, and everything else stops to watch this massive stampede. I happened to get caught in this once on my way to work, and the passing of so many animals brought my car to a standstill. I could feel the ground shaking and my car shaking as the thousands of sheep pounded past. It was an amazing sight!

After no luck with finding my scruffy dog a home, I thought I’d try to place her with a new one. She couldn’t live in the garage, so we were off to the vet for a checkup and shots. My modus operandi was to be able to say to a potential new owner, “All her shots are up to date.”

And then I heard the vet whisper to this scruffy dog, “You hit the jackpot, girl.”

I smiled at his whispered words, but I completely dismissed them from my mind. I was determined to find “Scruffy” a home.

At the time, I had been volunteering at the local animal shelter, and after trying in vain to place her, another volunteer asked, “Why aren’t you keeping her?”

I realized I didn’t have an answer as this brand-new reality sank in. I went home, and when we introduced her to our other two dogs, the atmosphere was tense for a while between the three, but one thing remained: our new adopted dog wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She followed me from room to room where she would lie down and watch me do any and every activity. I felt like she was cheering me on. Since she was glued to my side, giving her hugs and kisses was easy. She was interested in me.

Naming her was easy—Gypsy because we found her wandering, and now her wandering days were over. Quite quickly, it became clear that no matter what I did, she loved me the same with her beautiful unconditional love. I knew what to expect and receive from her and having her by my side was always a daily gift—a daily hug and a daily snuggle. She waited to love me and followed just to be near me. I had a lot to learn from my sweet, loyal and loving Gypsy who had made her entry into our home and into our hearts.

It didn’t take us long to realize, and we were convinced she was a working sheepherding dog. She was a herder all right; whenever I would leave the room, she would follow me. She also herded my husband when he left the room. She was really perplexed when we were in the kitchen, and she couldn’t herd us properly around the kitchen island or keep us both in the same room.

After we all sat down, then she would sit down. If one of us got up, she would get up and follow us. In the house, she was very good at her job. With time I became used to her following me, and I used that special time to turn around and give her kisses on our way to the next room. She even shepherds us at night by sleeping at the end of our bed and raising her head to see us whenever we rolled over.

Right away, she loved it when I put fresh sheets on the bed. She took as her opportunity to jump up and rub her back all over them. Oh, well, they were clean for a second. She also loves playing ball, riding on the back of the four-wheeler, and riding in the car to get chicken nuggets and the mail.

She did the simplest thing one day that stopped me in my tracks and made me see her unconditional love on display at a whole new level. She followed me into the master bathroom that also doubles as a closet. She went into the closet to wait for me while I had a shower. I got out of the shower to find her fast asleep with her sweet little face in my summer sandals. I thought to myself, that’s it! That’s unconditional love at its finest. I have a lot to learn from Gypsy, and I need to full-on love somebody today—right down to their stinky feet.

The vet was right about hitting the jackpot, only we were the ones who hit the jackpot—not Gypsy!

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Recovering Sinner, Adopted by Christ, Saved by Grace

PO Box 242 Gore, VA 22637