The Parables of Bonnie – Part II

BONNIE FIn July of 2015 I wrote The Parable of Bonnie with the possibility that there might be more to learn from our little stray. There definitely was.

In my first post I told about the difficulty we had in getting Bonnie to be “OUR DOG” and not just “MY” dog.  My husband did everything to win her trust but it wasn’t until I left for ten days that she finally began to seek his companionship. Since that time their relationship blossomed. She would bound onto his hassock and into his lap with eyes sparkling and tail wagging. When he’d ask her to “give him a kiss” she’d jump onto his shoulder and lick his ear with great enthusiasm. What a joy!

The change came when I had been gone eight days. Eight is symbolic of new beginnings like a week or music scale, but most of all, resurrection. Jesus rose on the end of the seventh and beginning of the first or eighth day, giving a new beginning for all who believe–a much more profound joy. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we, like Bonnie, didn’t have to have additional prompting but continued to develop the relationship and continued to come to Him with enthusiasm, gratitude and joy!!

Shortly after Bonnie’s arrival at our house there was a small thunderstorm. I was amazed that she didn’t seem upset by the noise. Then came a real storm with close lightning followed by deafening thunder and she was terrified.  After that whenever it clouded up her tail would drop and she would pace. If a storm hit, she would run under the bed and stay distressed the rest of the day. The good news is that eventually she only reacted to bad storms and when they were over she was fine. I suspect the change came because “her people” didn’t seem to be upset.

For us the small storms are just part of life and nothing that threatens our self-sufficiency. Sometimes He has to use a real boomer to move us from our comfort zone. Unfortunately for most of us life has to get pretty desperate before we are willing to really seek God. We have our normal comfort level in our relationship with Him and we often give Him a passing hello or a quick thanks, but really seeking Him generally takes a crisis.

A plaque I have says, “Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.” Bonnie never got that far, but we can since God is way bigger than “her people.” As our relationship deepens there is a trust that knows His love and really believes that He wants what is best for us. It’s like that dream that I wrote about a few months ago where the willow was whipping wildly in the wind but below the ground the roots which grew around and through a Bible rested in His peace.  When our roots are built on a bond with Him that is backed by His Word, we too can know that peace.

When I was working at our desktop computer, Bonnie sought attention by bringing her toys and stacking them around my feet. Finally, when really frustrated at being ignored, she would put her feet on the chair and look at me and if that didn’t work, she would whine or maybe even bark. Who could resist such a plea? It reminded me of the story Jesus told of the unjust judge who wouldn’t listen to the widow until she finally pestered him into paying attention to her needs.[1]

When we called Bonnie when she was in the back yard, she immediately left what she was doing and came running. When she got to go into the front yard, it was different. There was so much to explore and we couldn’t really mean she had to come right now, did we? Was that really us calling? You get the picture. My response to God calling is_____?  Think about it. I did, and had to admit to front yard habits.

While waiting in the vet’s office I got into a conversation with a woman who worked with stray animals. I told her a little about Bonnie and she said, “your dog is feral.”  When I got home I looked up feral[2] and, in the process, found that the critical period for puppies to socialize with people is between 3 and 13 weeks of age. Because Bonnie was abused during this early time, she avoided people and it was very hard even for us to win her trust.

Bonnie was not easy. She didn’t bite but she stayed away from being touched. Only my husband and I, our grown children, and one neighbor were ever able to hand feed or pet her. Touching her head was always off limits even to us. There are so many people with abuse issues. They too are not easy. But God allows us, His people, to be a part of where they find His love and healing if God directs and we are willing.

Bonnie had never had good vision but it continued to worsen. In January 2016 we took her to Texas A & M to visit their ophthalmology department for a diagnosis. They told us that she had progressive retinal atrophy and would eventually go blind, but that blind dogs could do quite well with their other senses and with just a little help from us, she should do fine.

By April, Bonnie was blind. She did not do as well as we had expected and seemed unable to use the rugs as a path or the scent markers we put out to keep her from running into things. However, she and I still had an evening run in the back yard. We would go out and start to play and she would run knowing that I would holler “careful” if she got too close to the fence or porch or any obstacle. The minute I said “careful” she would slam on the brakes and try another direction. We both looked forward to these times and they were GOOD.  Would that we reacted like Bonnie when that still small voice says “careful.”

By the end of June we knew something else was wrong. We tried to let her do things on her own and though she tried, she just didn’t seem able. She couldn’t find her food through smell, she had trouble getting in and out of the door, her balance was not good. It took ages to get her to her bed at night when she used to run and bounce into her crate and wait for a treat. It was so sad. Then she had a small seizure and our vet sent us back to A & M to a neurologist. There was nothing they could do.

On July 1, 2016 she left life as I held her in my arms and the vet ended the misery caused by a terrible genetic brain disease[3] that left her blind,[4] dizzy, and confused. An MRI showed that her brain had shrunk as a plaque-like substance replaced healthy tissue. We were heartbroken but we thank God for her time with us, knowing she had the best home we could give and that she knew love.

I treasure every day we had with Bonnie. These parables are just a few of the things the Lord brought to mind over our year and a half, to say nothing of the lessons in patience. I wish I had written down more. It had been twenty years since we had a dog and had Bonnie not come, we probably would never have had another. However, once a dog is part of the household it is way too quiet without one.

There is no replacing, but one can add—meet Harper, our 3-month old rescue.
harper corpped


[1] Luke 18:1-8

[2] Bonnie was not truly feral as a really feral dog is wild and often vicious. but she had many of their traits and it explained a lot of her behavior that had been a mystery.

[3] Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis – a very rare lysosomal storage disease which in humans is called Batten’s disease

[4] It was not progressive retinal atrophy but without the progression of the brain disease or by doing an MRI there was no way to tell the difference.

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