Hi I’m Boop-boop! I can’t wait to be part of your family, said the caption of the photo I sent to my husband’s email. The photo was that of a scruffy and a very black puppy, barely 2 months old. Barely a year ago, Dondi had very clearly said after we had adopted Roxy, a spotted female aspin, and after she had succeeded in destroying ALL of our slippers, that we were not to get another dog again. Of course, that was all in vain. A mere month after I sent him Boop-Boop’s picture, we scooped him up from our parents’ house and welcomed him into our own.
I don’t know what it is exactly about Boopy that captures Dondi and I’s hearts so much. At such a young age, he had already so much peculiar (and thus endearing) qualities. The way he growled like a big dog whenever anyone attempted to pick him up or cuddle him, the crazy way his hair grew that prompted us to call him “Einstein” for a time, the way he so determinedly learned to climb the stairs with his pudgy little legs, a skill that Roxy only learned when she was a good five months already. The raspy way he barked or the tiny bird-like sound that came out of him every time he yawned. Perhaps it was because he was simply so cute, a little furball of black and the way he blended into our own black floors.
Because I was about 3 months pregnant when we got him, my overactive hormones naturally magnified Boopy’s every cute trait. Pretty soon, he was sleeping by Dondi and I’s feet in our room and after a few weeks more, advanced to his very own spot on our bed. He has also developed this habit of waking me up by touching his cold nose to my nose repeatedly until my eyes fluttered open. And then I’d find him staring at me with those cute brown puppy eyes which always made me laugh.
He was my husband’s snooze button when he slept too late, jumping on him and licking his ears until he finally gave in to the furry and ticklish assault. But Boopy shone the most during our nightly walks around the village. Because he was a rather friendly dog and took to strangers kindly, we would let him run free while we kept Roxy, the more nervous of them two on her leash. My husband called him “TV Dog” because whenever we called him, no matter how far he had roamed away, he would start tearing towards us, his huge ears flapping, his pink tongue hanging from the side of his mouth, always looking like the happiest dog in the world. We loved the way he ran (no flew and bounced) towards us like that, like a dog you only saw on television.
In the mere 6 months that we have known Boopy, he had already succeeded in making me cry three times. The first instance was when we haven’t even brought him home yet, only a few days after I had convinced (bribed?) Dondi to bring him home with a picture. My twin, Karla reported to me sadly that he had disappeared that morning. Just like that. Gone without a trace. I was devastated and Dondi had to hug me tight to quiet my crying, which first came out in tiny sniffles and then soon escalated into large bawls and gasps. They found him in a neighbor’s house the day after, the puppy was assumed to be looking for food and was probably lured in by some smells the neighbor’s house. Scared of the prospect of losing Boopy again, we picked him up that following weekend.
The second time was one night when we noticed that Boopy wasn’t sleeping right. He was whimpering and yelping in pain. Every time we tried to touch him, he would hobble away, crying some more. Because it was so late at night and the only vet that was open was so pricey that we couldn’t afford it even if we tried, we had no choice but to pray for the little dog and try to keep him warm. I blinked back my tears and tried to be brave and waited until the sun finally came up and our regular vet’s office finally opened. It turned out to be an indigestion problem. A quick poke at his butt and some medicine soon solved the problem. My tears quickly dissolved into relieved laughter and I brought him home once more, happy that he was okay.
The third time Boopy made me cry was last night.
It was a wonderful evening. Our friend, Kate had come over with about five different and delicious dishes. We were catching up, laughing and having a good time sampling all the wonderful food. Around 9pm was the dogs’ regular walking time so we asked Kate if she wanted to join us. She said yes and soon, we were continuing our conversation up on the winding streets of our village, Dondi holding on to Roxy and Boopy running the streets free, at our heels and sometimes before us, like always.
We only take one route, as a sort of tradition and also because of my steadily growing belly. At one point of the walk, we would take a right at a very narrow street, sort of like an alleyway, which served as a shortcut back to our own street. We knew Boopy would always miss that turn, because it was so sharp and unlit and because he still wanted to explore the house on the right, which always had a collection of things to sniff at, and cats to chase. I let Dondi and Kate walk ahead the narrow street while I walked forward and called out Boopy’s name. After a few minutes or so of silence, I began to grew anxious. Especially when I saw a cat that he usually chased, licking its paws languidly by the house.
Dondi and Kate soon joined me, asking what was wrong. I said I couldn’t find Boopy. Dondi lurched into action right away, taking the other street that faced the narrow one, perhaps he had chased another cat and was just waiting for us at the other end. Kate and I retraced our steps, asking each other when was the last time we saw him. I realized that I was so used to having him follow us that I wasn’t really sure if I was really seeing him or just imagining him walking in front of us.
Kate kept the conversation light as perhaps she sensed that I was beginning to worry. I remember her telling me about how sometimes it felt that whenever things were going so well, you couldn’t help but feel that something bad was going to happen, something around the corner that was ready to pounce on you and steal your joy. I remember telling her that having faith in Jesus doesn’t guarantee a storm-free life. There will be trouble and challenges, inevitably and yes, they are always waiting at every corner, wanting to steal your joy. The difference in knowing and trusting God is now, you allow these challenges to happen because you know that in them, somehow, lies a lesson, something that can mold your character or stretch your faith even further.
It was funny that while I was saying this, I was also beginning to grow more and more nervous about our missing Boopy. Kate offered to take me home to rest while she talked to the guard about what happened. I tried to look casual and relaxed but my mind and heart were racing. Where could he be? Of all the months that we have been walking with him, this is the first time that he disappeared, without a trace and without a clue.
I walked into our house and the dam burst. I saw a piece of tissue that he had been chewing on only fifteen minutes earlier. The tears came, hard and fast but just as quickly, I calmed myself down. It wasn’t time to cry. It was time to look for him.
Dondi had already hopped on his bike and was carrying with him a flashlight. I remained on foot and took to calling out his name, waiting for him to jump out of the bushes and come a-running like he usually does. Kate and I called a cab so that she could be on her way home (it was getting late) and Boopy still hadn’t turned up. With my 9 month belly, I continued to walk, continued to call out Boopy’s name. My husband and I intersected at one point and we decided to search for him together.
For most part we were quiet, only shouting out Boopy’s name and straining to hear a response. We checked out all the possible routes he could have taken and shone the flashlight at every bush, under every car and inside every gutter. We hardly talked as we were hoping to hear his bird-like cry or his trademark raspy barking. Every time we called out his name, we half expected to see him bounding up to us, his ears flapping, his tongue hanging out, the happiest dog in the world. But he never did.
After about an hour, he asked me in a quiet voice, “Are you ready?” I said, “I don’t know.” Inside, my heart was breaking but I took a deep breath and continued. “We gave him the best care we could. We were never bad parents. This is not up to us.” We held hands prayed out loud.
“Father, we lift up our dog Boopy to you. Wherever he may be right now, please protect him and keep him safe. We put our trust in you and in your plans, Lord. We may not understand right now but we are in faith that this situation can only draw us closer to you. Teach us to trust you more, Father and bring us peace. For we know that You are in control, and your plans are good, pleasing and perfect. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.”
Our prayer surprised me. We did not ask that Boopy be returned to us at once. We did not beg nor bribe nor blame God. Though it hurt, we lifted up the situation to God and declared our trust and faith in Him. We knew that this was beyond us. Also, we didn’t blame each other or ourselves. I was amazed at God’s grace working in us that night.
With Dondi still holding my hand, I quietly told him that it was time to go home and rest. As we turned into our street, I let Dondi go ahead and watched as Roxy greeted him. There was a pang of sadness as I knew I was going to have to get used to seeing Roxy alone, without her best friend. I knew I was going to have to deal with the emptiness of his space in our bed, of not having his cold nose touch mine in the morning, of never again hearing his bark and his cry, of seeing his wild and untamed hair and his gigantic brown paws only in memory and in pictures.
As all of these were going through my mind, I heard him scream a scream of joy—–a sound that I had never heard in my life but filled my heart with unspeakable hope and happiness. “He’s here, hunny! He’s here!” I hurried in the gate and there was Boopy wagging his tail tremendously, his whole butt swaying from side to side, looking at us happily and excitedly as if to say, “What took you so long?” I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was really him. He was back and he was home.
We had searched for Boopy for an hour and a half. At one point in our search, he must have gone home on his own. But how did he open the gate? We raised the possibility of someone bringing him home for us, but who? Also, at what point did he disappear from our walk and why wasn’t he responding to our calls? It was as if he was swallowed up whole by the earth for one hour and thirty minutes and then promptly gargled out again. We had so much questions but of course, neither Roxy nor Boopy could answer any of them. We went to bed tired but happy.
It was certainly an adventure and yet, Dondi and I knew that this is only the beginning. When our baby comes out, we know that there will be even more ( and a different level of) worrying and wondering and sleepless nights. But if there is one precious lesson that last night had taught me, it is to learn to trust and to let go. To trust in our all-knowing, all-loving God the Father. That come what may, He’s got our backs and He’s got it all planned out, in the best possible way. The hardest part is surrendering to His will that we may not understand….but we learn how to let go everyday.
“Oh, the depths of the riches of your wisdom and knowledge, O God. How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God so that God should repay him? For from Him, through Him and to Him are ALL things. To Him be the glory forever, Amen!” Romans 11:33-36