Warning: This story is a heart-breaker!
Before I left with my family to go to Arizona at age seven, I had a dog named Chum. He was half Collie and half something else; but he looked like a full-bred Collie. The half breeds are much cheaper…like free. Free was the only kind of dog my parents would allow me to have. But I wanted a Collie because at that time every kid in the world wanted a dog like the television star Lassie. I was willing to accept a mutt since he was half Collie and looked like one.
But just a few short months before we left for Arizona, Chum died of distemper. I cried and begged for another but my parents said we shouldn’t get another dog before we moved. For two and a half years while we were in Arizona, I didn’t have a pet. So I caught lizards while I was there, though they weren’t very lovable.
However, when my parents informed me that we would be moving back to New York, I posed my conditions. I agreed that I would not work at having my picture displayed in the post office if they would get me a Collie once we got back to New York. They agreed.
So when we arrived back in the Empire State we went Collie hunting. We found one that was a toy, border and true Collie mix. We paid the owner and took the puppy home. I also named him Chum. But something wasn’t right. All the dog did was lie on the floor, get up to eat and go to the bathroom, and plop back onto the floor to sleep again. We took him to the vet who diagnosed the dog with a heart condition, and we returned him to the people we had bought him from. They had to put my second Chum to sleep. Strike two.
We were back on the hunt again. And we found a dandy. This dog was one hundred percent Collie. It was the last one in the litter and the owners were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to sell the dog because it was getting older and losing its puppy cuteness. It only cost fifteen dollars, a deal for a pure Collie, but a real hardship for my parents at the time. To their credit, however, they bought him for me anyway. And I tried again; I named him Chum as well.
Chum and I became best friends. He went with me wherever I went. But one day while I was walking down the street, he saw another dog on the other side and darted in front of an approaching car.
In a moment of horror, I screamed, “Chum no!” But it was too late. The car hit my companion with a thud. My dog rolled over and over again under the vehicle as it came to a stop on the side of the blacktop, leaving Chum in the middle of the road in a pool of blood.
I rushed over to my friend. His beautiful blonde fur was matted in his own blood. I was crying in desperation. Chum was crying in pain. I knelt down and reached out to comfort him. But he growled and snapped at me as if I was an enemy.
I was in such shock I stood up, turned and ran as fast as my legs would carry me to my house that was less than a block away. It was all I knew to do. I burst through the front door and shouted, “Ma. Come quick. Chum just got hit by a car.” Then I hurled myself around and ran back to where Chum was as fast as I could run.
When I got there Chum had calmed down and was receptive to my comforts. I knelt down and took his head up in my arms trying to calm him, as my mother trotted up beside us. I rocked back and forth crying and saying, “It’s OK Chum. I’m here. You’re going to be alright.” But Chum wasn’t going to be alright.
I, of course, was filled with hope that just a little bandage, perhaps some salve, and a kiss on the hurt, would take care of the problem and I would have my friend back as good as new. I told my mother, “Chum will be fine, right?” To which my mother responded, “I hope so dear. I hope so.”
The murderous lady who hit chum offered to take us to the veterinarian because my father had our only car at work. So we carefully placed Chum in the rear of her station wagon, piled in quickly ourselves, and drove to the veterinarian’s office.
When the vet examined Chum and told me that he would have to be put to sleep, I asked, “You mean for an operation?” The vet looked at my mother, then back at me and said, “No, son, Chum will have to be put to sleep for good. He has too many broken bones and several internal injuries.”
I cried all the way home, and for several days afterwards.
Maybe it wasn’t dogs I had bad luck with; maybe it was the name Chum. So I named my next dog Bingo.
Have you ever felt like…you just can’t seem to get a break? Things just keep piling up one after the other. I’ve heard theories like, things happen in threes. So, people warn, look out, there’s two more coming. Or they comfort, since this was the third, it will be the last.
But trials, just like our whole lives, are in the Lord’s hands. I Corinthians 10:13 promises God will never allow a trial that is too great for us. James 1:3-5 advises us to treat trials with joy because they are like gifts from God that are sent to mature us.
I can recall other times in my life when the trials didn’t stop at three. They kept right on coming; four, five, six and more. Maybe, my bad luck with dogs, or the name Chum, prepared me for those times. I do know, through them all, I have grown and drawn nearer to My Lord. I also know God monitors each one in our lives, as well as our ability to endure. Unfortunately, because of our prideful nature, trials are the only effective refining agent that will foster the kind of humility that will make us usable in God’s hands.
I do have one bit of advice though. Don’t name your dog Chum.