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What My Dog Taught Me About God: The life and times of Howdy

DSCN0015Howdy was a rescued Miniature Pinscher found wandering in the desert early one morning about three and a half years ago. When his owner was eventually located, he made it clear his intention were to let coyotes kill and eat the little dog. Howdy’s original owner was not a nice guy, to say the least. Howdy was fostered by my best friend, Lynn, who immediately called me and said, “I found the perfect dog for you.”

We had been dog-less for 5 years, ever since we’d lost Jackson, our Shepard mix. My husband loves dogs, but I’m the one that needs them.  I’d been having dog cravings for years, praying and waiting for the Lord to bring us the right dog. I wanted a big dog, not a yappy, nippy, little dog…until 6 months later when Howdy crawled up into my lap and stared into my eyes. I fell in love.

So, Howdy came to live at our house. It was originally supposed to be a weekend visit to see how well he fit into our household. I called Lynn ten minutes after getting Howdy in the door and told her he was staying. He was the littlest dog we’ve every owned. Black and tan with perky ears that were very expressive (we called them “Yoda ears”). He had a 90-degree kink at the end of his tail that made him look like he was waving a flag. He couldn’t see very well (had what looked like an injury to one eye), but his keen hearing and sense of smell made up for the loss.

Howdy had one major flaw: he was afraid of musical instruments. A big problem in a musician’s house. He would run from the guitar in abject fear. The ukulele would send him over the edge. If it was laying on the couch beside him, he would glare at it, like he was expecting an attack.  When the Flagstaff Folk Festival rolled around, we took him with us. EVERYONE had a guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, etc. You name it; someone was playing it. We didn’t let him cower, but gently encouraged him to face his fears. By the end of the festival, Howdy was fine with my guitar. In fact, he would try to push it off of my lap when I played to reclaim his rightful place. However, he never came to trust the ukulele.

We learned early on Howdy suffered injuries, most likely caused by physical abuse, that would rear their ugly head, sending him into fits of pain and all of us into the vet. We were able to get through the crises, and kept Howdy in good health. Maybe too good. A friend nicknamed him “Chunky Monkey.” He got walked everyday, had an active life, a big backyard to patrol and chickens to keep an eye on, but he always remained on the chunky side.

Howdy brought more joy into our lives then we could have imagined. I’d forgotten how much fun a dog could be. He was a “momma’s boy,” wanting to be with me most of the time but loved to do ‘guy things’ with Stan. He went from being an anxious dog, expecting to be hit, to a happy, carefree dog, who easily made friends. I would post Howdy stories on my Facebook page. Howdy had a large following of people interested in his antics. He was also Karmann and Kompany’s band mascot. He was a funny little guy with a huge heart, and it broke ours when an old injury paralyzed him. On June 3, we had to make that hard decision that pet owners dread.

Howdy’s body was shutting down, and there was nothing we could do for him. His death has left a huge hole in our lives.

At first, I was hurt that God took the dog we loved so much. I thought it was my fault. I’d done something to make God mad. Finally, the vet’s words began to sink in. We were lucky to have had Howdy for that length of time. It took me a while to see how God had blessed us with the time we did have with Howdy. I was blessed by how much my relationship with Howdy taught me about my own relationship with God.

These lessons are supported by the Bible:

  • Lesson One: Always have hope. Love will prevail. Corinthians 13.
  • Lesson Two: Rest in the arms of the one you love and trust. Psalms 23.
  • Lesson Three: Relish every moment of life. Matthew 6:25-24.
  • Lesson Four: When you have security, you can do anything. Luke 1:37.
  • Lesson Five: I’m a rescue, too. John 3:16.
  • Lesson Six (the most important lesson Howdy taught me about God):  He answers prayers in ways we don’t expect. I prayed for a dog, then almost missed the blessing of the dog God had intended for us because it didn’t fit my image. It reminded me of the Jews looking for the Messiah when Jesus was standing right in front of them.

I don’t know where dogs go after they die. I hope they go to Heaven, but we won’t know until we get there. I heard it said that God gave us dogs so we could learn about love and loss. I’m thinking maybe He gave us dogs so we’d have a little bit of heaven on earth.

After all, dog spelled backwards is God.

karmann

Singer/songwriter Karmann Powell is a “genetic” musician from a musical family. She is the lead singer of the award-winning Karmann and Kompany band; worship leader/music director for North Valley Christian Church in Phoenix, Arizona; and former Music Editor for The Relevant Christian magazine, currently a columnist. She is a wife, a mother, and a former real estate agent. In her spare time, she is a substitute teacher. www.karmannpowell.com or www.kandkband.com

  • Sue

    Straight from the heart! So glad I got to know the little guy. He was and is such a blessing….

    • Karmann Powell

      Oh man, now you went and made me start crying, again. Howdy was a special little guy and he touched a lot of lives, especially ours. I hope his story can continue to touch people.

      Our newly adopted rescue, a min-pin mix named Duncan, is also teaching us a lot!

  • Karmann, our furry family members really wrap themselves around our hearts. Hubby and I are also waiting for our next furry child. We lost our Blue Meryl Sheltie almost 4 years ago…

    • Karmann Powell

      So sorry for your loss. It’s hard to live without a dog for so long. We found a min-pin mix and adopted him about a month ago. His name is Duncan and he is a mess. Another rescue. He’s been badly abused and is afraid of my husband, but we’re seeing improvement. Come to think of it, most of the dogs we’ve owned (or owned us) have been rescues.

  • Bianca S

    I am sorry for your loss and as a pet owner (of quite a few special animals in my life) I can definitely empathize. I cannot think of a more appropriate book to recommend to you than “Watson’s Way” by Joel Lund. I have always felt that animals, more specifically, dogs are some of the best teachers in the world for how we, as Christians, should behave and treat one another. This book is so heart warming and beautifully written I was really impressed by it. For anyone who has ever had the joy of being loved by a pet, this book will instantly tug at your heart strings. Their is such a deep spirituality in our pets and they can truly bring out the best in us, and that is exactly what the author shows us in this story. Whether you are a Christian, believe in God, love dogs, or are just feeling lost, this book can truly help you reflect on your life and learn some very important lessons a long the way. It is an uplifting, feel-good reminder that life lessons are all around us. I hope you will give it a read