Tuesday, February 14, 2012


In the extended silent period of the ol' Johnson blog...much has happened.  I'll begin with last summer.  Wowza!  The blog really was dormant for a long time.  Anyhoo...back to the task at hand.  Catch-up.

For years, Brad and I have had conversations about getting a dog.  I am a huge dog lover.  My family always had a dog and I longed for my boys to have that same experience.  There is something special about a dog...unconditional love, entertainment, snuggling buddy, and the list goes on and on.  Brad, however, isn't as fond of dogs as I am.  Don't get me wrong, he likes dogs...just not in the house.  Really?  Why have a dog if they aren't around to love and snuggle with?  I can't imagine having an outside dog.  You can see the source of conflict for us.  {snicker}  I got really creative with my persuasive remarks..."The boys will learn responsibility" or "We will be safer when you are gone if there is a dog to bark at an unwelcome guest"  or "Your wife will be so happy to have a dog.  Happy wife - Happy life!"  or even  "You are getting a PhD, surely we can have a dog."  Finally, he gave in.  He loves me so.  {grin}

In the spring of last year, I began to research dogs.  We needed a low-allergen, non-shedding dog (one of our boys has a very mild dog allergy...our allergist gave us her blessing for such a dog).  We also needed a dog who was large enough to not be trampled by our herd of children, and small enough to not knock the children over.  To further add to the complexities of finding a dog...we knew that we didn't have time for training a puppy.  My dad was very ill and I was traveling to care for him each weekend.  It was getting tricky...what sort of dog would be right for our family?  I began to pray that God would provide just what we needed and I was confident that He would.  I was even bold enough to pray about where our dog would come from and what sort of training it would have.

Several years ago, I had seen a documentary about a "mutual rehabilitation" program in a prison.  The inmates were assigned a dog that had been rescued from a shelter.  The dog would remain with the inmate 24/7.  The dogs received amazing training (some were even trained to be assistance dogs for folks with disabilities) and the inmates learned a skill (dog training - some even became certified) and more importantly, they learned to be loved and to love.  I thought it was an amazing program - a creative way to "reshape" someones heart to love again.  Maybe those inmates would be open to God's love once their hearts had been softened? 

I searched the Petfinder.com website often and continued to pray daily.  I made a few calls about some dogs...nothing seemed to "fit" or "feel right."  Until, I found a dog named "Rocky."  He was a schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle mix) with a unique looking gray/black/silver curly coat,  he was medium sized, and he was about two years old.  Things got even more exciting when I learned that he had been posted to the website by "Second Chances Canine Program" - you guessed it, a mutual rehabilitation program at a prison about an hour from our home. 

I called to ask about Rocky and the lady I spoke to seemed to think he would be a perfect fit for our family.  We made an appointment for Brad and I to go meet him.  Later that week, we drove up the tree-lined drive of the prison campus (formerly a small private Christian college), we stopped at a small building where an employee searched our car.  It's worth noting that Brad and I warned her that we weren't responsible for any goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, or sippy cups she encountered.  You never know what is lurking in the back of a mini-van.  {snort}   She found nothing of interest and then pointed us in the direction of a large brick building with a cross on the side.  It sounds silly, but the image of that cross was somehow comforting to me...an affirmation that God was doing something. 

We entered the building and made our way through the metal detectors and showed someone our ID.  Once we were cleared, we went straight ahead into a small gymnasium...and the inmate, the program director, and our dog were waiting for us.  They greeted us warmly and told us a little about Rocky.  We asked questions about Rocky's training.  The inmate answered with great confidence...it was like an encounter with the "dog whisperer" - he was loaded with knowledge about dog obedience.  Brad and I told him how impressed we were...and he beamed.  The program director grinned with pride and told us that the inmate had just received some special dog training certification and would be awarded a framed copy the next day.  The change in this man's life was obvious by looking at the "intake"photo on his prison ID.  His shoulders slouched, his posture was "down", he looked hard, angry, and unhappy.  The man standing in front of us was grinning, standing tall,  making eye contact, answering questions, telling us about his future.  He was full of hope.  We shared a little bit about our family and our faith and then wished him well and encouraged him to make his freedom "lasting" when he was released the following spring. 

Brad and I chatted about our experience the entire ride home.  We both agreed that it was the most "Christ-like" experience we've ever had in a secular environment.  Amazing. 

Oh yeah, we also adopted an amazing dog.  He is perfect for our family in every way.  The boys and I adore him...and because Brad loves us, he is tolerating Rocky.  {grin}

Matthew and Luke loving on Rocky

Rocky and Matthew...not long after Rocky got a haircut.

Rocky snoozing on his bed.  We love his soft, curly coat.

1 comment:

Jodi McKenna said...

Rocky!!!!!!! I already love your story!!!!!!! Yahoo! So glad you got a dog . . . what a good pal to have around the house.