'We are meant to lead restored, content lives'
Jennifer Lee Preyss
May 19, 2017 at 3:12 p.m.
Updated May 18, 2017 at 8 p.m.
The other day, a commercial for high-end dog food came over the TV.
I wasn't really paying attention until I glanced up and saw two robust dogs flying across the screen in slow motion, in black and white.
The dog food, it seems, was being presented to well-bred dog owners, who owned well-bred dogs.
It occurred to me in that moment, I wasn't certain if me and my half-mutt, Zara, could claim either category.
Breeding is a spectacular thing in both dogs and humans. If you're a "Downton Abbey" watcher, it's explained as a remarkable way in which humans tend to categorize everything into boxes of good and bad, high and higher. Even among lords and ladies there are hierarchies.
As I watched the dog food commercial, I looked over at Zara, my beautiful golden-coated mix of God-knows-what and watched her stare up at me - her front paws crossed right over left - and raise her head from a queenly stack of satin throw pillows.
She doesn't know she isn't well-bred, nor does she care if she eats $60 bowls of dog food like the commercial said was important.
Zara can scarcely remember, but a little more than a year ago, she was a bag of bones rescued by a kind woman, my friend, who saw her living in deplorable conditions. She was tethered on a rope, living in old feces and cast aside by owners who did not claim her.
My friend chose to find Zara a new home before she died of starvation and disease, including the heartworms she contracted from a life of neglect. I was asked to take her because she wasn't doing well in the local shelter. She was pacing and afraid of the enclosure and if someone didn't take her, it was likely she would have to be put down. I agreed to foster Zara for a while, until we could find her a permanent home.
When Zara came to live with me, she was a spirited, somewhat unruly nuisance who seemed to enjoy destroying things in my home for entertainment.
She was afraid of the leash and other dogs and required daily doses of medicine to cure the heartworms.
In time, she started gaining weight, learned to love the leash and became eager to bond with me.
She also revealed how smart she was, willing to learn new tricks and communication prompts.
I have fallen so in love with her, and it fills my heart every time I touch her soft face or lay across her belly, using her body as a pillow.
What's more, my husband has also fallen in love with her, often claiming her as "his dog."
Each morning, Zara sneaks into the bed and cuddles up next to him. I have found these two in a blissful morning embrace more than a few times, breathing and snoring into the other's face.
Every time I look at Zara, I remember how far we've come together as a family, and how her life could have gone an entirely different way.
I'm so glad I decided to keep her and become her forever home.
When I think of her story, I'm reminded of God's grace with me and how many times he has used the love of those around me to pull me into a better life.
I'm reminded how each one of us are meant to be pulled out of our messiness, out of past lives and situations we did or didn't choose and live redeemed, queenly lives surrounded by opportunity and unconditional loving hands upon us each day.
Good breeding, it seems, isn't a predictor of future successes or even a necessary part of life. There are no defined boxes or limits of mobility.
Wherever we come from, whatever our past, whatever mix-bag claims us, we are all meant to lead restored, content lives, freed of any harmful tethers and unwanted disease; free from those who once cast us aside and chose not to claim us.
Zara's home is here with us now. And through our eyes, she is perfect, restored and more beautiful than rubies.