The Art of Life Is to Get the Message

photoWe went to Dallas’ Northpark Mall in mid-December–like a million other shoppers–to buy some new stuff. So, how did we come home with a used dog?

Here’s how: From Black Friday to Christmas, the Dallas SPCA annually sets up shop in one of America’s ritziest shopping meccas. After scouring the area pounds, and checking out all sorts of  “death row” animals, volunteers bring the most adoptable (and adorable) cats and dogs to a big kiosk near Starbucks. There, as holiday carols play, and latte-sipping shoppers stroll past, these rescue animals get one last chance to display their charm and, hopefully, find a home.

It’s pure genius, this plan. And my wife and I got sucked right in. A few minutes of intense deliberation and $95 later, we were the new owners of a freshly-neutered, very skinny dog. He would be a Christmas present for our son who’s about to graduate from college and leave the nest.

Extremely calm and very sweet, Rory (as my son named him) is thought to be two years old, but nothing is known for sure about his background. Scruffy and white, he’s obviously some kind of West Highland terrier mix, but with a long puffy tail that looks, as my wife observed, “like something out of Dr. Seuss.” He is (mostly) house-broken, and he can sit and shake hands (he’s a lefty). Another endearing trait: he is off-the-charts clumsy.

Maybe it was my imagination, but Rory immediately seemed grateful to be with us. And why wouldn’t he be–all that constant scratching, attention, and affection. One neighbor, observing all the love being poured out on this little mutt, remarked, “I think that dog won the lottery!”

Well, last Saturday, our little lottery-winner made a run for it. He darted through the carport door. My son & I took off after him, calling his name. He never looked back. Finally, one street over, he stopped to investigate an intriguing smell, and, we were able to nab him.

Taking him home, we confined him to our fenced-in back yard. And do you know, not 30 minutes later, I noticed him loose again in our front yard! Rory had pawed a big brick away from a small crack under the fence and squeezed through.

Once again the chase was on. Only this time I was by myself. And this time, instead of running deeper into our neighborhood, Rory was unknowingly making his way toward the state highway two blocks from our house. I kept calling his name. He kept running. Just as my chest was about to explode, and just when my mind was filled with visions of this cute little dog being splattered by an 18-wheeler, he paused. I pounced. And for the first time, “sweet Rory” snarled at me.

As I sat there clenching his collar, angry and gasping for breath, I pondered the strange behavior of this little beast. He had been mere days from being put down. Then some SPCA worker showed up, noticed him, and plucked him from the pound. Rescued from certain death!

Amazing! But his story gets better. Petted by countless smiling shoppers, Rory got picked by a couple who just decided to take him in and give him a good home. They paid good money for him. They adopted him, and then began to lavish him with love.

And yet, inexplicably, at the first real opportunity, he bolted. And even as his kindly master ran after him, calling his name, calling him back to his new life of love and safety, he ran all the harder, straight toward real danger.

Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalist once said, “All happenings, great and small, are parables whereby God speaks. The art of life is to get the message.”

Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.



  1. Alyson Hinkie

    Sadly, I am just like Rory – again and again and again. It just never all fully sinks in. He looks a lot like our first rescue dog, Daisy.

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