A Kid With a Dog

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Joseph Anderson Donetti stood up beside the kennel at the Humane Society. “OK,” he said. “I’ll look at all the dogs before I pick one.” He glanced at G.M. “How am I going to know which dog to pick?” he asked.

“That’s a very good question,” G.M. answered.

“I know! I know!” Mac danced up and down. “You could pray about it! My dad says we can pray about everything. Even little things. And getting a dog isn’t a little thing! I mean, you could have this dog for ten whole years or more if it lives a really, really long time!”

A frown creased Joseph’s forehead. “But how would God tell me which dog to pick?” he asked.

This time Mac was quiet. She didn’t know the answer to that.

G.M. smiled. “I think if God has a certain dog in mind for you, He will speak to your heart. You will just know inside somehow that your choice is right. There is also the idea of confirmation,” she went on.

“What’s that?” Joseph asked.

“Confirmation is like God telling you twice what His will is. For example, if I can agree with your choice, that will probably be the right dog for you. But if I don’t like the dog you pick, then that probably isn’t the dog we should take home.”

Joseph took a deep breath. There was even more responsibility to owning a dog than they had discussed before. First there was the responsibility of choosing! Joseph stood very still. “Dear Jesus, Please help me pick out the right dog,” he prayed silently.

“Oh! Look at those puppies!” Mac exclaimed. She darted down the walk to the kennel at the very end. A fluffy, fluffy brown ball with short little legs stood next to the gate, and another fluffy brown ball lay sound asleep close to it. “Why don’t you get a puppy?” Mac called over her shoulder. “Did you ever see anything so cute! They are precious!”

“I don’t think I want to get a puppy,” G.M. said.

“They’re cute,” Joseph agreed. But to G.M.’s surprise he added, “I don’t want a puppy either.”

Joseph and Mac and G.M. looked at every dog available for adoption. They saw dogs of every size and color. They studied the white papers that told details about each dog. “This dog chases chickens,” G.M. read. “We don’t have chickens, but that doesn’t sound like a good habit!”

“It doesn’t sound good to me! He would probably chase Mabel,” Mac said protectively.

Joseph laughed. “Mabel is a cat that doesn’t look at all like a chicken!”

Mac giggled. “That’s true. But maybe he’s not a very smart dog!”

“Well, the dog I’m getting is very smart!” Joseph announced. He led the way back down the row of kennels and stopped in front of the black stray dog with the smiling eyes. “I want this one,” he said.

“I knew it!” Mac exclaimed. “I knew it! I knew it! Well, maybe I didn’t exactly know it, but I wanted you to choose this one! I hoped you would!”

Joseph looked up at G.M. “Do you like her?” he asked anxiously.

G.M. studied the dog. Its tail wagged back and forth. The dog sat down and looked expectantly at Joseph. Her tail swept the concrete behind her.

“She’s got longer hair than I like,” G.M. commented. “You’d have to keep her brushed to look good. There would be long hair to vacuum up if she came in the house.”

Joseph’s face fell. “That’s another thing we have to buy. We didn’t think about a dog brush!”

“That’s OK!” Mac put in. “Mom said she was going to buy a welcome-to-your-new-home present for your dog. Mom can buy her a dog brush! And I’ll help you brush her too. It’ll be fun!”

Joseph grinned.

“Let’s go tell the woman at the desk that you’ve made your choice,” G.M. said, ruffling Joseph’s hair.

The woman looked up from her computer screen as Joseph led the way through the door to the kennels.

“I want the dog in kennel number 17,” Joseph told her even before he reached the counter.

The woman smiled. “That’s the lovely black stray, isn’t it? She’s a very friendly dog. I like her.”

Joseph could barely stand still while G.M. wrote out a check for the adoption fee and paid for a dog license.

“Did you bring a leash?” the woman asked when all the paperwork was taken care of.

“Oh, no,” Joseph said.

G.M. laughed. “We didn’t think of it,” she admitted.

The woman pointed across the room. Dog collars of all sizes plus leashes hung on the wall. “You can get one here if you like,” she said.

“Pink!” Mac suggested, skipping over to the leashes. “She’ll look great in pink!”

“I like the red ones,” Joseph said, studying all the colors.

“No. She’s a girl. She needs a pink leash,” Mac insisted. “Then people will know right away that she’s a girl. They won’t always have to ask you.”

“I-do-not-want-a-pink-leash,” Joseph stated flatly. “I want a red one!”

“OK!” Mac said agreeably. “Then it’ll match my hair!”

“This is for you,” the woman at the desk said to Joseph. “It’s a booklet for new dog owners and some information about obedience classes.”

Mac peeked over Joseph’s shoulder at the title of the booklet and giggled. It read, New Parent Guide.

“Knock it off!” Joseph hissed at her. “Can we go get my dog now?” he asked the woman.

“Absolutely!” she said, picking up the new red collar and matching leash. “Let’s go!”

The woman led the way to kennel 17. She opened the gate. She rubbed the dog’s head, and scratched behind her ears, and fastened the new red collar around her neck. “You’ve got a new home, girl,” she said. “Be good now, and enjoy it!” She attached the leash to the collar, straightened up, and handed it to Joseph. “Here’s your new dog!” she said.

Joseph glowed. A few hours ago, he thought, he’d just been an ordinary kid. Now he was a Kid With A Dog!

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