When Ralph Meets Bella

July 6, 2012

by Maria Fontaine

Have you ever noticed that dogs often seem to have very humanlike reactions and emotions? A few weeks ago one of my friends had to leave her beloved pet with someone else for a time while she was away. I happened to be visiting the dog’s caretaker at the time, and saw the poor creature looking so forlorn and depressed. She lay motionless on the floor with her big mournful eyes. I asked the person who was caring for the dog if she was all right.

”She’s not physically sick,” he said. “She’s just heartsick. I think she wonders if she has been abandoned by her owner. She hasn’t seen her for a while and she’s very sad.”

I was at a gathering the other day where I again was reminded how “humanlike” dogs can be. Two couples with dogs who knew each other had been invited. One couple arrived early with their very small dog named Bella. Shortly afterwards the other couple arrived with their dog, Ralph. Ralph, three times the size of the smaller dog, came prancing in and spied his friend, Bella. And wow! What an explosion!—Although not the kind of explosion you’re thinking! This was an explosion of delight at finally being reunited with a “long-lost friend” that he hadn’t seen for about two weeks! It reminded me of kids at a family reunion, who only get to spend time together with their cousins on special occasions, and how they would be bursting with excitement, bouncing off the walls in their enthusiasm and chattering at the same time.

This amazing display of emotion went on for some minutes, with the little one hopping and jumping, and nearly wriggling her little self out of her skin. The big one pranced from side to side and back to front, lowering his head onto his front paws where he was on the level of the little dog and licking her face with his big tongue. Then the little one would bound on to a couch where she was eye to eye with Ralph, trying to lick his face and almost jump on his head in excitement—both so overcome with happiness they could hardly contain themselves. Nothing else mattered, as they were caught up in the wild abandonment of the moment. Sniffing, wagging, poking, running in circles, stomping of paws, leaping into the air—it seemed like it would never stop! Until finally their explosive enthusiasm began to subside and they turned their attention to other things—like the delicious aroma of the food on the table. Such a show of joy and delight I’d almost never seen, even in humans!

God loves to show us things through the unexpected, and to paraphrase a verse, “Two animal friends shall lead the way!” I thought how the world could use so much more enthusiasm and open appreciation. And when I say “the world could use it,” I have three fingers pointing back at me. What am I going to do about it? That show of two animal friends excited about seeing each other convicted me that there’s more that I can do to show my appreciation to others, through showing my happiness at seeing them or at talking to them. How can they know it unless I show it?

Appreciation wasn’t put in our heart to stay. Appreciation isn’t appreciation unless we give it away. There is nothing wrong with showing our exuberance and elation at seeing or talking to people—in fact, there’s a lot right with it. Even if somebody thinks you’re “putting it on,” a lot more people will be very thankful that you’re overjoyed to see them or to talk with them. Whether new friends or old, people like to know that you like to be with them. Even if we don’t “feel” ecstatic at the moment, we always have the Lord’s love to draw on. He will help us manifest His joy through us.

The other day, a fairly new friend of ours brought her husband to our home to meet us. We’d never met him before and asked the Lord how to best relate to him. Instead of just being properly polite with a stranger, the Lord showed us that what he needed more than anything was to be put at ease and to be comfortable and to feel like he was with old friends. So, Peter and I greeted him as though we’d been waiting for him forever and he was one of our best friends! As a result I believe he felt like he was really welcome, and not just because of his wife. He felt we were appreciating him for his own sake.

Our sincere expressions of what we see as a person’s qualities and positive traits can reach deep into their heart and give them a fresh, positive perspective on themselves. Most people need to be valued and appreciated. Like Ralph and Bella, who, with unabashed enthusiasm, showed their appreciation of the bond they felt, so we should be wholehearted in appreciating those whom the Lord places in our path.