Posted by: sarahjanedoohan | October 10, 2012

My Very Own Miracle

Before I share the miracle God granted me recently, I feel the need to start from the beginning.  For anyone who is an animal lover they will understand the very difficult decision my husband and I eventually had to make.  As parents, our children come first, but when emotions and bonds are established before the kids…well the choice is far from an obvious one.

My husband and I struggled for nearly 4.5 years to start a family.  When we were nearing our 10 year wedding anniversary we thought maybe children might not be in our future.  So we decided to adopt two Shih Tzu puppies from the same litter.  Brother & sister pups were going to become part of our family just like our two cats.  Growing up on a farm I was surrounded by animals all of the time.

Working from home I bonded quickly with them and doted on them like they were my own children.  Within 3 months of bringing them home we discovered that we were finally pregnant.  I didn’t object to taking a prescribed fertility pill to increase our chances as I had never given up the dream.  There was so much love in my heart to give – that overjoyed was an understatement.

Everything was fine up until our daughter was 10 months old.  Lydia was rough with one of the dogs hair and…snap.  Shocked at what had happened we immediately gated the dogs.   Emotions of fear primarily took over.  Fear for our daughter’s safety and fear of the very real possibility of this happening again.  Neither one of us wanted to send our dogs away.  We didn’t plan on giving the dog another chance to get to close to our baby.

Time passed and our guards dropped.  By now our daughter was a toddler and quick on her feet.  She loved her doggies.  The dog that had once snapped at her kept far away from her and the other dog seemed if anything protective of her.  A quiet dog sometimes is the most dangerous.   Never have I been more torn by conflicting emotions.  Protectiveness and abandonment swept over me.  My husband and I decided if we were to keep the dogs they must be separated at all times.  And we did.

Having a good size home it worked out to keep them apart though it was beyond a trial.  Time passed and we discovered we were going to have another baby.  It actually happened naturally and it was a high risk difficult pregnancy.  We continued to do everything we could to keep the children and dogs apart.  But sadly our daughter remembered the incident all too well and had a fear that only seemed to be growing.  The barking set her off.  We knew that finding a new home for them was long overdue and we were only hurting our daughter emotionally by delaying it (even though she was no longer in physical danger).

So the anguished decision was made.  So many prayers and tears were spent on this process.  We surrendered our dogs to a small breed rescue group that gave us confidence they would find a home for them without children.  Our attempts at placing them on our own fell flat mostly because I couldn’t go through with it.  God knew my heart was breaking but gave me the strength to push through it and do it.  My husband Patrick took the day off work and drove a 10 hour round trip to give our dogs over to a foster worker.  They were going to a large city in Canada and another province altogether.

That was back in the spring of this year.  My prayers were continuous that our two dogs would get to stay together.  It was bad enough that we were losing them, but the thought of them being separated from each other was unthinkable.  After one month in foster care we received the news that they had been adopted together!  Names and info were not permitted and we never asked.

God knew my heart was relieved beyond belief that our beloved dogs were at least together.  I doubted anyone would take as good of care of them the way we did.  These are high maintenance dogs and I was diligent in grooming them myself and getting them exercised as often as I could.  I also didn’t believe anyone could love them as much as we did.

That is when the dreams started.  Throughout the summer I had these disturbing dreams of always trying to save them from some pending disaster.  I was always looking for them but would see glimpses before they would get out of my sight.  They continued to evade me and their protection was what I was most concerned about.  The faceless owners came into the picture and I was trying to negotiate with them to get the dogs back.  Over and over these dreams haunted me.  They never ended happy and I woke day after day tired and frustrated at the sad turn of events.  Our daughter underwent therapy during the summer months and we learned that her fear of dogs had manifested into a full-blown phobia of all dogs in general.  The guilt as a parent of what I should have done and what I actually did is something I will need to deal with the rest of my life.  Family and friends looked on and scratched their heads at our obvious mistake as parents.

As the summer was coming to a close not a lot had changed.  I kept the children as busy as possible, more so for my own peace of mind.  We did daily activities to take advantage of the last warm days of summer.  I had my best friend with me and her daughter and we took a drive down an old road along the river.  Farming land and homes make up this off the beaten path drive.  20 minutes later we pulled in with the kids to a place called “The Country Pumpkin”.  It has some small animals, a playground and a perfect set up for a picnic.  As I undid my seat belt I heard a dog barking like crazy inside the car next to us.  Thankfully the window was down enough and it wasn’t an overly warm day.  There was an empty space between us and I looked up into Tess’s face.  I glanced over to her right and there was Guss quietly sitting, the ever protective brother.  I didn’t say anything yet to my friend as she was getting her daughter out of my van.  I stupidly continued to stare as my two kids were in the back seat waiting for me.

I didn’t want my daughter seeing them, so I unbuckled them with shaking hands.  I mumbled quietly to my best friend Tiffany “I think those are my dogs.”  She thought the face trimming looked different as it was much shorter.  She knew my pain well and maybe wanted to brush it off probably to save me anymore pain.  I knew well how my dogs faces looked with less hair and a beard.  I was staring straight into the faces of my dogs.

Tess had stopped barking as she soon recognized the van and me of course.  My daughter ran towards the swings and I couldn’t even speak to Tiffany.  We had come to have a picnic and we were setting up the table.  I didn’t want Lydia to see them, but I couldn’t eat or take my eyes off of that white car with the N.S. licence plates.  What were the odds of them being 5 hours away from where they lived way off the route of the Trans Canada highway?   My mind was asking God over and over “Why are you doing this to me?”

And than I had my answer.  A couple looking to be in their 50’s walked out with their bags of produce smiling at their babies inside the car.  They saw only their doggies and affectionately greeted them getting back in the car.  Tess sat right up on the woman’s lap.  No kennel for these dogs.  These dogs vacationed with their owners!  They weren’t stuck in some boarding place…they had front row seats.

God can do anything.  He can give happy endings.  And he can make everyday miracles happen.   My Father gave me a gift that no one else could have.  Peace of mind.  He took my distressing dreams away from that day forward.  No one else could have done that for me…only my Father in Heaven.  I can never thank Him enough.  Praise His name.


  1. G-d is great.

  2. That is a great miracle for you; I had no idea that you were so attached to your dogs or that Lydia was so affected. Although our son hinted at a bit of Lydia’s fears , I did not know any details. We are now part of a family where many secrets are kept, and people do not really share their emotions much with other members, I have learned.

    My own phobia about dogs comes from being bitten twice, once badly when I was a child of ten. I can tolerate them, but I do not like to be around dogs at all. The best day of my life was the one when Cosmo was given to a good home!! I had prayed for that to happen for many months because I saw he was “abnormal” and was potentially damaging to our grandchildren. God answered my prayer too!! That was one of my miracles. Yes, God is great and greatly to be praised!

  3. Guilt through and through. Looking back it should have been a swift decision. Sadly life is never simple when emotions are heavy. I believe part of my postpartum depression was entangled with my response to the obvious choice. We are dealing with a very real phobia of dogs. Very difficult go go anywhere there are dogs present as she has terror and panic attacks. Coping strategies are in place and Lydia has come quite far. She goes back next week to see the pediatrician. We discovered through this process that Lydia has “Sensory Processing Disorder”, something she will eventually outgrow when she reaches adulthood or at least good coping skills so it will no longer effect her so. This is an over responsive reaction to our 5 senses. Extremely sensitive to light, sounds, movement/motion and touch. It explains a lot, and we are taking all the right steps now to getting her mind better. Prayer certainly has helped us in moving forward and getting to the root of her problems. Parenting is not a picnic nor for the faint of heart. Yet I see it as an enormous privilege, one that is all too easy to mess up.

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