Spanky was an answer to prayer.
At the time of my life when my children became teenagers and started to outgrow me, I began to yearn for a puppy I could nurture and love. I had always wanted a Jack Russell Terrier because of their intelligence, fearlessness and size, but when I discovered how much it would cost to buy one, the possibility of ever owning a Jack seemed very unlikely. I remembered that with God, all things are possible. So I asked God, if it was okay with Him, would He pleeeeease give me a Jack Russell Terrier puppy? I lived in a sparsely populated area where neighbors were few and far between. Imagine my surprise when 6 months later a full grown female Jack Russell Terrier came walking out of the endless acres of Alaskan woods behind my house, looking confused, cold and hungry.
"This is a real answer to prayer!", I exclaimed to my husband in my best convincing voice. "And FAST, too!" He just shook his head and pointed to the tagless collar on the dog. I begrudgingly put up a sign at the end of the road that stated simply, "FOUND DOG", along with my phone number, and hoped no one would call. A few hours later the phone rang. It was a neighbor we didn't know very well who lived up the road from us. She sounded happy and relieved. "Did you find my Jack Russell?", she asked. She made the quick trip to my house on her 4-wheeler to pick up her dog. She had bought the dog, she explained, to breed with her other JRT as additional income for her family. "Missy" had wandered away from her new home and gotten lost in the woods. Sadly, I handed the dog back to her, mumbling something about how I had always wanted one, and wished her luck with Missy. As I watched her drive away, I felt the bitter sting of disappointment in my confused, heavy heart. "Why would God answer my prayer and then promply snatch that answer away from me?", I wondered aloud, hoping God might fess up to His mistake and make the necessary corrections. He didn't.
Many months later, as I was working outside in my garden, my neighbor came riding unannounced up my driveway on her 4 wheeler. She had a big smile on her face as she dismounted. "I want you to know I never forget a favor," she beamed, "and you did me a real favor returning my dog to me when she got lost. So I have something for you." She unbuttoned the top 3 buttons of her jacket. Snuggled inside was a beautiful little 8 week old Jack Russell Terrier puppy. "He's the runt of the litter and won't fetch much money", she explained. "I want to give him to you if you'll take him." I stood there stunned and speechless. She held the puppy out to me and I cuddled him under my chin, breathing in his fresh, warm, puppy smell. I said a silent prayer of thanks and hugged my neighbor.
Spanky and I enjoyed 12 wonderful years together. He proved to be everything you would expect in a Jack Russell, chasing moose, hunting bears, occaisionally getting too close to porcupines, and acting as the welcoming committee, chaperone and guardian of the universe for our active family. He passed away last year from old age, having enjoyed an exceptional life of adventure and freedom in the woods of Alaska. During our time together, he was devoted to me. It was as if he knew he had a mission to fulfill - to convince me of God's continuous grace, love and attention to detail in my life. Spanky taught me that God is never far away, He hears me when I pray, and though it may not be in a way I expect, He always answers.
"DOG IS GOD SPELLED BACKWARDS"
6" x 6" / Oil on gessoed hardboard
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