The determined dog sat erect on her back legs, chest out, standing sentinel over her private territory. She never batted an eye as she gave me a dead-level stare. I thought she might bite or attack if I ventured up the steps. I hesitated a few moments in the yard. The problem was, the territory this dog was guarding was my front porch and she stood between me and my front door!

I’d come home late, my husband was out of town, and thankfully I’d left the porch light on. All I knew to do was start heading up the steps—prepared to run if this unfamiliar canine chose to attack. But as I started toward the front door, her fierce exterior imploded into a whimpering yelp as she shot off the porch.

As I got ready to call it a night, I noticed the dog had returned and was sitting on my front porch. I cracked open the door and she jumped in fear. It was obvious she’d been abused. Speaking in soft, gentle tones, I tried to get close enough to see if she had a collar or any identification tags, but she quickly darted away.

The next morning she was still on my front porch. In the light of day, her protruding ribs gave evidence of long neglect. The least I could do was provide some water. I called the neighbors to see if anyone was missing a dog. One neighbor told me the dog had been hiding out in their garage for a few days before they ran her off. Another thought she’d been dropped off in the woods near our house. I rummaged in the refrigerator for leftovers. She acted like it was sirloin steak.

It’s been almost ten years since we had a dog. We’ve enjoyed the freedom that comes from having no animal responsibilities. I haven’t wanted a dog, haven’t looked for a dog, and have turned down several generous offers of a dog.

I’ve been perfectly content dog-less. 

When my husband came home, he kept referring to her as my dog. I kept telling him “I don’t have a dog . . . I just don’t know what to do with her!” He went out and bought an automatic dog-feeder (for when I’m traveling) and dog food. I kept saying, “As long as I don’t name her, she’s not really my dog . . . we’ve just got to figure out what to do with her . . .”

I didn’t want to take her to the dog pound. We all know what happens there. It’s not like she’s anything special. Her tail’s missing, her ears stick out. She’s of unknown bloodlines. But she’s so pitiful and needy that she gets to my heart.

If I approach this relationship based on what I get out of it, the answer is nothing. Except she no longer runs from me, she runs to me and seems SO excited every time I come outside. She still seems fearful of other people, and her past abuse is obvious to everyone, but she loves to curl up beside me when I sit on the porch steps. She acts like I’m her greatest joy.

She kind of reminds me of me. I’ve my bumps and bruises. I’m needy. I’m totally dependent on my Master and He’s my greatest joy.

Now that she’s claimed my porch as her home, she’s looking for every opportunity to be with me and anxiously waits for me to come outside with her. I’ve named her “Happy” because that’s her emotion every time she sees me. Her whole body wriggles with delight (I guess she’s actually mine now that I’ve given her a name).

I think God is greatly delighted when we find our greatest happiness in Him. I never cease to be amazed by that, and now my Happy is a daily reminder to me of that truth. Oh, to have that measure of excitement and joy for Him that I see this little dog show me!

“Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, ‘All my springs of joy are in you.’” (Psalm 87:7)

Where do you find your joy? What is your greatest delight? How are you expressing to God His worth and value to you?