Christmas Puppy


God created … every living creature … : and God saw that it was good (Gen. 1:21).

“A puppy?” I asked, excited. “Sister North wants to give us a puppy?”

“That’s what she said,” Mom assured me. “But we have to check with Dad when he gets home from work before we say we’ll take him.”

How can Dad say anything but yes? I wondered. We were finally living in a house. All the other times we’d asked him for a puppy, he had said, “Not while we’re in an apartment. A dog needs a yard to run in.” Now we had a yard, and we had the chance for a puppy. He just had to say yes.

When Dad came home that night, my three brothers and I jumped all over him, shouting, “Can we have it? Can we have the puppy from Sister North?”

“Whoa,” Dad said. “A puppy is a lot of responsibility. Who’s going to feed and water it?”

“We will,” we promised.

“I guess it’s about time we had a puppy.”

“Hurray!” we yelled.

That night Mom took a box to Sister North’s house. When she brought it home, squeaking noises were coming from it. Mom reached in and gently took out a brown and black puppy and placed him in my arms. He licked my hand and wagged his tail.

We tried calling him all kinds of names to see which one fit the best. “Why do we call him a dog?” I asked Mom.

“Because that’s what Heavenly Father told us to call him,” Malcolm answered.

“Not quite,” Mom said. “The Bible tells us that Heavenly Father had Adam name the animals. Let’s read it.”

I got the Bible off the shelf in the living room. Mom turned to Genesis 2:19 [Gen. 2:19] and read, “‘And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.’”

“Wow!” I said. “How did Adam think of all those names?”

“Yeah,” Gabriel said, “we’re having a hard time thinking of a name for just one animal.”

“Maybe the name book will help,” Mom suggested. She got the book she uses when we name new babies. After reading for a few minutes, she pointed to one and said, “Here’s one that fits him—Caleb.”

“What does it mean?” we asked.

“It means ‘as fearless as a dog,’” Mom said.

And that’s how Caleb got his name. About six weeks later, Caleb acted real tired all day. He hung his head. He didn’t wag his tail. While we were eating dinner, he got off his blanket in the kitchen and walked on shaking legs over to the table. Then he started to throw up. Dad put him back on his blanket, cleaned the floor, then called the vet. After he talked on the phone for a while, he wrapped Caleb up in a large towel and took him to the dog hospital.

Dad came home alone. “Caleb’s very sick,” he told us. “I had to leave him there so the vet can find out what’s wrong with him.”

“Is someone petting him there?” I asked.

“No,” Dad said, “they have him in a cage.”

I hated to think about our Christmas puppy in a cage with no one to hold him and talk softly to him when he cried. “Mom,” I asked, “does Heavenly Father love puppies?”

“I’m sure that he does, honey,” she said. “He must love everything that He created.”

“Then it’s OK if I pray for Caleb, isn’t it?”

“Remember when we talked about Adam naming the animals?” Mom asked.

I nodded.

“Well even before Heavenly Father created Adam, He planned that it would be man’s job to care for the animals. Let’s read it from the Bible.” I got it from the shelf, and she read Genesis 1:26 [Gen. 1:26]: “‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.’”

“What’s dominion?

“That’s a way of saying Heavenly Father gave Adam the job of seeing that all the animals were protected and taken care of. Heavenly Father wants us to have dominion over our animals too. I think it would make Him very happy to know that you love Caleb enough to pray for him.”

That night I asked Heavenly Father to help Caleb get well so that he could come home to the people who love him.

The next morning the vet said that we could visit Caleb in the afternoon. When we got there, a lady in a white coat took us into a little room, then brought Caleb in. He wagged his tail but didn’t even try to get up. They had shaved a patch of hair off one of his front legs. Dad said that that was so that they could put a special kind of needle called an IV into his veins and put fluid into them because he wouldn’t eat or drink anything. We held him and talked to him for about ten minutes. Then the lady came back and said that it was time for Caleb to go get his medicine. As soon as she picked him up, he started to whine. I could tell that he wanted to stay with us and not go back to that cage.

The next night Dad brought Caleb home. We were to shoot water into his mouth with a syringe and feed him little bits of food so that he wouldn’t need an IV anymore. But we could do even more—we could love him and pray for him.

That night Dad slept on the kitchen floor in a sleeping bag with Caleb next to him. The next morning we folded a blanket and placed it in the sunshine in the living room. Caleb spent hours sleeping in the sun. Every time the sun moved, we moved the blanket. When he woke up and cried, someone picked him up and loved him. Every morning and every night we prayed for him.

One morning when we woke up, Caleb was gone from his blanket. We found him in the kitchen, wandering around under the table. He was getting well enough to go exploring. Before long he was his old self again.

Now Caleb is a full-grown dog. He loves to play soccer. He can flip the ball up in the air with his nose. He jumps as high as my bike to get it when Dad kicks it to him. I think that we’re doing a pretty good job of having dominion over Caleb. And I think that Adam would have liked our dog.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Jerry Harston