In a very ironic turn of events, I own a puppy. (Don’t freak out, Mom and Dad.) I technically own the puppy but I don’t possess the puppy. Long story….. ready?
Monday one of my youth boys calls me and tells me he and some friends are at the local animal shelter. He is adopting a puppy for his girlfriend but he is only 16 so he can’t legally adopt an animal. He needs someone 18 or older. So he calls me…. I ask a few questions. You know … things like…. does she know? Do her parents know? Do your parents know? Etc. I got satsifactory answers so I drove down to the shelter to meet him, two friends and his girlfriend’s sister. We explain to the staff who I am and that I’m legal and what they are doing and proceed to the kennel area where the dogs are kept.
Now its been a good four years since I was last here. The last time I entered the shelter was the time that I adopted a dog in very poor judgment. I left with a beagle named Muffin and had my dad return her four days later. I was not ready for that level of commitment. It really wasn’t fair to her…. I was never home and she was lonely. I just didn’t think it through well enough.
So, now, I’m back with four eager teenagers and stuck between trying to not rain on their parade and be the lone, rational adult that speaks reason to those who don’t understand reason. Lots of questions later, a few phone calls to assure parents are okay and aware of what is happening, I’m filling out paperwork to adopt the dog in my name for the moment and then I can give the dog away as a gift and the name can be changed to the "receiver" after the dog is fixed. It wasn’t until after the signing, the money exchange and some other clarifications that it was mentioned that the puppy could not be fixed until after April due to her young age. So . . . in legalese, I own a 8-week black labrador retriever until April. As we left the shelter, I felt a strange sense of abandonment as "Belle" went with her new family. I hope she understands one day that it was for her own good. That the family she was going to would be better for her. They had a farm, two other dogs, children that loved dogs, a basic IQ in doggie-care . . . all things I did not have to offer her.
It has been two days now and I’ve not received angry calls from any parents and no calls from the police about animal neglect. Youth ministry can be a very risky job sometimes…