I sat down thinking I wanted to write about this last year. The pandemic year. But those thoughts and feelings and reflections are too raw to write about and share right now. They are still very much alive in my body and haven’t quite moved from body to mind yet. So, I think I’ll let them stay just with me in my body for a little while longer.
However, there is one thing about this past year that I thought would be fun to write about. And that is Miss Twyla Rose.
As I am sure all of you know, in May of 2020 I welcomed my puppy, Twyla Rose. Of course she is named after Schitt’s Creek.
When the world shut down in March, I started out strong. I was working from home, walking multiple times a day, doing puzzles like it was my actual job.. And then by mid-April things went south. I was incredibly lonely. Some days I could not get myself out of bed. I wasn’t eating much and going for long walks stopped feeling enjoyable. It was so rough. So, I did what anyone in my situation would have done – I began looking at PetFinder every single day in search of a dog. I thought I would get an adult dog (less training) and was hopeful I could find one that didn’t shed much.
I talked to my therapist, Jenna (I make zero life decisions without her), and we decided a good first step would be talking to my landlords. It should be noted that my lease agreement included a no pet clause. I wrote to my landlords and explained my situation and they graciously agreed to a small dog as long as none of her “business” was tracked into the apartment building and no one complained about barking. Deal.
Shortly after that Steve, one of the pastors I serve with, sent me photos of two puppies at the local humane society: Sissy and Pearl. They were 5 month old Fox Terrier / Chihuahua sisters and EXTREMELY cute. I filled out the application and scheduled a time to go meet the girls.
I drove out to the humane society and played with both puppies for about 30 minutes. Sissy was feisty and the obvious leader of the two. Pearl followed Sissy’s lead and frequently stopped playing to curl up in my lap. I quickly fell in love with her. As I left they told me they had to review nearly 30 applications for the puppies and would get in touch with me at the beginning of the following week to let me know whether or not I was approved.
I drove home and told everyone how much I adored this puppy. However, I knew that so many people had applied and the chances were slim that I would get her. I didn’t want to make this a spiritual thing but deep down I was hoping God would come through on this one. I needed a tangible reminder of God’s kindness to me and proof that God remembered me and to be completely honest, I wanted it to come in the form of this puppy.
It did. I got a call on Tuesday morning from the humane society – I had been approved to bring home Pearl, who I obviously renamed. Twyla Rose was mine.
Let me pause here for one moment to say: I have never in my life had a dog. I did not grow up with pets, except a turtle who lived for two weeks. I did not have the slightest clue about being a pet owner but in classic Katie fashion I thought, how hard can this be? Let me also say that instead of an adult dog that didn’t shed much, I was about to bring into my home a puppy who shed an incredible amount.
I went to Walmart and bought all of the necessary puppy items and the next morning drove to the humane society to bring home my new roommate. I was shocked at how easy it was. I paid the fee, signed the papers, picked out a free backpack and was on my way with zero clue how to care for a puppy. But I was thrilled.
I won’t bore you with details about how inconsistent I am at dog training or about the amount of stuffing from inside of dog toys I have cleaned up in my living room. Or how Twyla destroyed multiple crates. Or the time she chewed through the vacuum cord. It’s fine. But what I do want to say is this: all of the people that talk about how their pets are members of their families – I get it.
Twyla has brought me unbelievable joy in the midst of an incredibly hard and lonely year. She forces me to get out of bed in the morning and take a walk every single day. She is a warm body next to me on the couch. She is silly and weird and playful. Her tail and her tongue are disproportionately long and her ears are so floppy. I was determined to not let her sleep in my bed but somehow that didn’t work. She plays with her food before she eats it and loves to sit in the window sill like a cat. Her favorite toy is a large squeaky pacifier. And yes we did get matching jammies for the Christmas card this year thank you for asking.
I said earlier I didn’t want to make this a spiritual thing. And yet I have to be honest. I have seen the kindness and love of God in Twyla. I needed a companion this year. I needed joy. I was desperate for anything that would help me feel like a human being again and that’s been Twyla. She has been the silliest and most playful reminder that God did not forget about me. When things are hard it is easy for me to decide God has forgotten about me and is not kind to me. When something lovely happens I am quick to say, “That’s just how life is! Sometimes things are great!” I am practicing changing that narrative.
I’ll be honest, it takes some bravery. It is hard for me to let God be kind to me. It is hard for me to trust that God is loving and good to me. Sometimes it feels silly to say that Twyla is my reminder of the goodness of God, but she is. So here’s to the puppies that make us laugh when they run into window sills, who play fetch by themselves with a strawberry, and who lick every last drop of chai out of our mugs. Twyla Rose you’re simply the best.