By the world’s reckoning, Ivan isn’t of much value. Perhaps he is even a Bad Dog.
Ivan is stout. His skin is polka-dotted pink and brown. His hair is scraggly and sparse, with an interesting mohawk thing going on along the top of his skull. He is covered with lipid tumors. Not a real looker by too many people’s standards.
He has epilepsy, has suffered from it going on 8 years now. The seizures come in clusters, lasting from hours to days: Ivan screaming, disrupting the whole family. “Put him down”, some have advised us. We have had to readjust our lives to meet his medical needs.
He’s not welcome in the dog park–he picks fights with other dogs.
He chases cats and squirrels. He is very protective of his personal space–woe to anyone who reaches into his car or enters his backyard uninvited.
He does have a cute face, though, to those who like terrier faces. But call him over to you for a pat and he will give you a stony stare and stalk coldly away. Ivan is a one-family dog. Exclusively. He doesn’t care what the world thinks of him. He lives only for us.
Ivan is a rescue dog, found on a rural highway as a “teenager”. He has seen the world, and he knows where he wants to be, safe in the arms of his family.
We are the only ones who know the real Ivan. In his heart he is loyal, loving, brave, protective, and playful. He is extremely affectionate and a great snuggler. He hugs back, with a shoulder lean and warm head pressed gently against you. He cries when he needs help and runs to us with trust. He is as forgiving as any dog is. He loves us deeply and totally, would die for any of us. We love him, cherish him. We enjoy his good days, and are with him through his bad days. He is growing elderly now, slowly losing sight and hearing, but still full of fun, mischief and spunky terrier contrariness.
In Ivan’s story, despite his flaws, I learn a great deal of our relationship with our heavenly Father. Ivan knows he belongs only to us. We alone know what is in his heart, even as the rest of the world judges and rejects. With us, he can be himself without pretense, dropping his fears and masks. In trust, he knows his problems will be cared for, and that love is all that matters. In return, he gives us himself, all he has, vulnerable and dependent. He cares nothing for the opinion of the world, but lives for his family, wanting to please and be by our side.