Faithful Living: Love can come in small packages

A small light will do a great deal

when it is in a very dark place.

Put one little tallow candle in the middle

of a large hall, and it will give

a good deal of light.

D. L. Moody (1837-1899)

Never say, “Never!” It is my new mantra. I began chanting it quietly to myself almost a month ago when we welcomed into our family a little being I could not have dreamed owning. In fact, it was not until my middle child announced she absolutely had to have one — and could not imagine a more wonderful 16th birthday present — that I even gave this ownership a respectable consideration.

I know. It was a request that went straight to this mother’s heart and lodged itself, in spite of my attempts to repel it.

The story begins with Katie — the one who possesses a love and understanding of animals that surpasses my own, although I like to think we share some primal, perhaps even a genetic link when it comes to God’s creatures. After all, it was my own mother who was the only human being on the planet brave enough to reach into a cardboard box and grab an angry and terrified baby raccoon. At the time I was a teenager and considered it to be one of the coolest moves my mother ever made. That’s because the kid who brought the beast into our kitchen was the paperboy who lived up the street. He had captured my heart and I wanted him to feel welcome at my house. My mother’s willingness to share in his desire to tame the little ‘coon not only displayed her love of animals, but her love for me.

If this theory of mine holds any water it is because of this fact: I eventually married that paperboy and in 1988 we welcomed Katie into our family. Interestingly enough he was able to incorporate his love of animals into his career as a biologist and even into a side taxidermy business. On the way home from the hospital that October day we stopped along the road to pick up a dead raccoon, which he later taxidermied and used as an educational prop.

How could Katie not love animals?

And so it was that I came to ask Katie, as her 16th birthday approached last month, what she wanted as a gift. It was her answer that reminded me I am never to say never again.

“I want a Chihuahua more than anything in the world,” she responded. And in typical Katie form, she had done the research, e-mailed the breeders, and surfed the Internet before presenting her case.

A Chihuahua? I quickly adjusted my face and challenged myself to a new sense of openness. It was her birthday. I needed to think of her. But my mind raced. Aren’t Chihuahuas rat-like and nervous? Don’t they nip and shake and smell? And on top of all these concerns … don’t their eyes bug out?

Maybe some Chihuahuas, but not our Paco.

He is all the Chihuahua enthusiasts of the world said he could be and so much more. In minutes, after lying on the floor at his breeder’s home and allowing him to interact with us while playing with his Chihuahua mommy, I was celebrating Katie’s choice of dogs and the near impossibility that we would own one.

So what makes him truly wonderful? It’s the little black mask that crosses his face and his agile, energetic walk. It’s his willingness to offer love no matter what the occasion or our moods. It’s his need to be warm and snuggle. It’s his tiny little body that can be tucked any jacket and the wag of his tail that brings out the cute factor as no other animal we have owned has.

It’s also his vulnerability that reminds us that Paco is a whole lot like us. Take the stairway in our house. Going up is a breeze, but going down is utterly terrifying for him. We have talked to him, bribed him, and encouraged him. Even if we scoop him up into our arms, that descent brings on a tremor that ends only when the last step is reached.

Some paths in life are terrifying, especially if you understand that you are small.

Then there is the matter of Pacific Northwest weather. It’s rather chilly and cold these days and wet grass chills little legs to the bone. It means you must put on your fleece jacket whenever you go outside or jump into the nearest warm jacket.

Sometimes you need a cover to venture out into the cold world. Other times you need somebody to stand beside you.

Beside the joy factor, I look at 13-week-old Paco and am reminded that you need not be big or work unaided to make a large impact on those around you. Little packages can provide nonstop love and silliness and companionship.

They can light up a room.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is,

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