I have a habit of picking up stray dogs. Since moving to an area where people will dump unwanted dogs, I've stopped more times than I can count. It's a really sad reality and it always impacts me tremendously. It's next to impossible for me to pass by a dog on the road and not stop. My family calls me Dr. Doolittle because I love animals so much (more on that here if you're interested). Back in the fall I picked up a cute little lab mix with a limp, and after lots of social media sharing and calling around, I discovered he'd most likely been dumped. Thanks to the Facebook, I was able to find a really sweet couple who wanted to provide him with a new home. It was such a win.
The other day I was driving home from a meeting and had to stop in the middle of a highway to avoid hitting a pup who was wandering pretty aimlessly across the road. I turned around and got out of my car and she came right to me. I opened my car door and she hopped right in. That's usually half the battle. After posting on websites and calling around, it seemed this little girl had a sad story, too. Only this time, I couldn't wait much longer for the social media sharing to pay off and find someone to adopt her. K and I were leaving town and I had no choice but to take her to a shelter.
This little girl is the sweetest dog. She would crumble at your feet when you pet her and she'd lick your hand if you reached out to say hi. This was someone's baby. She had to be. But she had these horrific mats in her fur that indicated she'd endured a major lack of care for quite a while. Yet she wasn't too skinny, so she'd been fed. And she was so very well behaved... it was just a mystery how she ended up in this circumstance. And that really broke me, because I didn't have any more time to give to her.
Dropping her at the shelter was bad. I cried the whole time. I literally couldn't even hide it or hold it in. I was overcome with sadness to add this sweet girl to the 800 (yes, 800) other dogs at the shelter who had sad stories, too. I'd prayed over this dog since the moment I got her, asking that God would help me find her home. Yet circumstances were making it clear this was my only option. I had to leave her there. So through tears I uttered one last covering over her, asking God to redeem her sad story and bring her home, and watched a shelter employee take her away.
Fast forward to about 10 pm that evening when I'm taking Tylenol to try and relieve the terrible headache that was plaguing me because I'd cried so much (I'm just being super real with you. I cried a lot.) I put The Great British Baking Show on my phone to get the day off my mind and I receive an email from Pawboost, a site where I listed her as a found dog. Turns out a friend of a friend recognized the dog and contacted the suspected owner. Moments later I'm talking to a girl who says the dog belongs to her uncle, that her name is Jenny and that she's been missing for a year and a half.
Guys, this story ends with such joy. This precious animal has been reunited with her family after being lost for over 500 days. Who knows where she'd been or who kept her alive all this time, but she's home now. Home.
I hung up the phone and just stared at the ceiling. You heard my prayer, God. God, how sweet you are, how kind and gentle.
It looked like it would end at the shelter. Like her last chance at redemption was me. It looked like this story would end differently than the last dog I picked up. Well, it did.
This dog is home now. And that's a miracle. There's no other way to explain it. How on earth did her owners see my posts about a pet they lost so long ago? Certainly they'd stopped searching. Certainly it seemed it was time to throw in the towel and move on. Give up hope and surrender to the sad ending.
Wow. I'm in awe of You, God. You care about everything. Jesus himself said that not a single sparrow falls to the ground without you knowing about it. You care about animals. You see them all. And if you care about animals, how much more must you care about us, the ones You made in Your own image? The ones who "are more valuable than a whole flock of sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-30).
I know God brought Jenny home because he cares about her. She's part of the work He called "good" in the very beginning. But I know God also brought Jenny home for me. I'm in a season of being lost myself. Kenton and I are waiting on God for some things and sometimes it feels like we're walking aimlessly along the road, trying to get home with no compass. If God can get Jenny home after being missing for over a year, He can get us home too.
But I think God did this for you, too. In a world of violent shootings and broken governments and terrorism, in a world where you have days you cry so hard your eyeballs hurt, you need to know that God is in the minutia. He's in the tiny details as much as He's in the sky. How insignificant is Jenny's story? She's a dog. And yet He is in her story. He is in your story, too. He is a Good Father, and He sees you and He knows you. He sees your rising up and your sitting down, your coming and your going. He knows the hairs on your head, your secret dreams, the tears you cry. If He can get Jenny home, He can get you home too. I drove away from the shelter with my hope waning. It seemed the story had ended. But with God the story never ends. Even as hope is lost, He is still working. Even when the door closes and the heart breaks and the fears are realized, He is behind the scenes, knitting something all together good and lovely.
I looked up what the name Jenny means because I do that. And knowing God, I knew it would apply here. It turned out better than I could have hoped. The name Jenny means God has been gracious. What are the odds that a girl with a sensitive heart for animals and a desire to spread truth just happened upon a lost dog who happened to have been lost for over a year? And then that girl just happens to find the owners and the dog's name just happens to be Jenny which just happens to mean that God has been gracious? Goodness, He's in every single detail!!! Down to the name of the dog who got lost and now, by His grace, is found! He is a good good Father and He cares about our cares!
But what about the 799 other dogs who are still at the shelter? What about the stories that seem to have ended in hopelessness? What about the many others who are still lost and waiting to be found?
God is in their story, too.
He sees them.
He cares for them.
He sees you and He cares for you.
God, if You're in the tiny details of this dog's life, if You hear my crying prayers, asking for You to redeem the story of this animal, how much more are You in the details of my life and my story? How much more will you bring me home, Father? I have no reason to doubt, no reason to fear. Even as my hope wanes, I know You are behind the scenes, working on my behalf, writing a story for my good and Your glory. You hear my prayers, You see my heart, and You are trustworthy. Thank you God for Your great love and for Your faithfulness.
God, You have been gracious.
Jenny is now home with her family after being lost for a year and a half. No story is hopeless! Pulling over to rescue strays can be hard, inconvenient, and you need to look out for your safety over an animal's safety. However, I hope this amazing story will encourage you to do the hard, sometimes right thing, and help a family reunite with their lost pet. Posting photos on Facebook, in your city's "lost and found pets" Facebook groups, posting on Pawboost or Petfinder, and calling shelters and vets are all extremely effective ways to initiate sweet reunions with pets and their families. Social media can be a drag sometimes, but when it comes to getting lost pets home or re-homed, it can be very powerful! And if you feel called to be the happy ending for one of the 799 dogs at Jenny's shelter, you can go here.
But more than that, I pray this story gives you hope for your story, that God sees you, cares for you, and nothing in your life is beyond His redeeming love and power.