"Can I pick her up tonight?" I pleaded over the telephone. I knew there was only one thing that would ease the sudden void in our lives. That "something" was another Scottie - a new puppy to join Maxie and Maggie, the two forlorn, black Scotsmen waiting by the back door. They could not understand that their dear old friend, Molly, would not be returning.
Yes," the breeder assured me, "I do have one puppy I might consider selling, however, she is not black, she is white." She had saved one puppy from her last litter, thinking of the possibility of training her for dog shows. But, hearing the urgency in my voice, we quickly came to terms and I lost no time in rushing to her house to claim our new, little pup.
I couldn't believe my luck! I had always admired the rare wheaten-colored Scotties, but it seemed that whenever we purchased a new pup, one was never either affordable or available.
She was on the grooming table when I walked into the house, and it was truly love at first sight. She was an ivory shade, with a touch of strawberry blond down her back. Just ten weeks old, her little ears were already up, pricked to attention, showing her pink skin underneath her fluffy, puppy coat.
"What is her name?" I asked. "Mistletoe," replied the breeder. "My sister gave all five pups holiday names to celebrate their births."
I tried not to show that I was not favorably impressed with the name. "You may remember that all of our dogs have names starting with an "M", I said, "and we planned to name this one Molly, after the good old gal she will be replacing." But when the breeder protested, I swallowed, and replied, "Well, I guess we could always call her 'Missy,' couldn't we?"
Indeed, the name seemed to fit her pretty well, and I certainly wasn't going to antagonize the breeder at this point. We really needed a new puppy to ease the lonesome ache we felt over loosing Molly, and I was determined that when I left, it would be with a new, doggy addition to our family.
Upon my arrival, Little Maxie and Maggie rushed to greet me at the door, and if two dogs could ever look aghast, those two did. It was as if they were saying, "What in the world is that? It looks and smells like we do, but it's white!"
I put our new little white girl down on the floor to meet them. She didn't know that new arrivals need to appear humble and keep their distance, and she rushed right up to them, wagging and snuffling all the way.
Status within their group is everything to dogs, and with an attitude of putting the strange- looking newcomer in her proper place, Maggie let her have it immediately. She drew first blood, with a sharp bite right on the tip of Missy's nose.
After much howling from Missy and scolding from me, we started all over again. This time, Little Maxie got her. Clamp! Right in the same spot. "Smart aleck!", he seemed to say. "Who the heck do you think you are, you strange-looking, runty bugger?"
It seemed that our new arrival was getting off to a pretty bad start in spite of everything I could do to smooth her way. Scottish terriers are very territorial, but it didn't occur to me that Maxie and Maggie would not recognize her as one of their own kind. They made it quite clear they regarded her as being lower than pond scum. Was it because she was white?
She tried so hard to curry favor with them. She tried all of her cute little puppy tricks. She rolled over submissively. She lowered her head in their presence, carefully not looking them in the eye. She even stopped trying to rush up to them. It just broke our hearts to see that she was not being accepted as one of the group.
The big dogs made it very plain that they did not want anything to do with Missy. After putting her in her place on the first day, they adopted another tactic. They began to shun her. In fact, they totally ignored her presence in a room. If she approached, they turned away, keeping their backs to her. If she moved around to see them better, they'd move, too. They seemed to say, "You look strange. You don't look like us, and we don't like you." It was at least three, or maybe even four weeks, before things began to settle down at our house. The two older, black dogs finally realized the wimpy, little white stranger was here to stay. And, as she grew older, she started to exhibit all the adorable little Scottie ways that so endear the breed to us. Her sharp, little teeth would make you wince when she bit your hand. A bold little bit of fluff, she showed absolutely no fear. Exuberantly, she pushed the older dogs to the limit every day. Then trustingly, she'd snuggle on your lap and instantly fall asleep like an innocent babe.
Effervescent as a Sprite, bubbling over the glass, the little white pup was always ready for a romp. She would burst out of the door with glee, bringing up the rear as she followed her adopted dog family, as they tried to leave her behind.
Like most of our pups, Missy delighted in slopping through water and mud. That was when I discovered that white dogs don't clean up as easily as black dogs. It seemed I was always putting her into the sink and washing her off. Her little puppy feet started to turn the color of the soil in the flower beds.
By the time she was a year old, she started to watch the other dogs, copying them while they played and feinted at chasing a bird or a squirrel which had inadvertently strayed into the yard. Whatever the chosen activity was, she always ready to participate-sometimes to my chagrin.
The hunting instinct was deeply imbedded within her genes. Copying the other dogs, she hid behind the azalea bushes in order to give frantic chase to usurpers in the yard, but she seemed always too late to catch anything. Poor little Missy, how could she know that because she was so white, her prey could see her better than they could the black dogs?
Never a quitter, she didn't give up. She just changed her hunting tactics. She stopped following the other dogs and started sitting on the porch or lying out in the open, still as a statue. Soon opportunity would present itself. A squirrel, chipmunk or perhaps a bird, encouraged by her inactivity, would boldly venture into her territory. She would gleefully give chase, until finally she began to experience a little success. With her success, she began to earn the respect of the other dogs. Soon, under the watchful eye of Maggie, the matriarch, the younger dogs (Missy and Maxie) became a hunting team. Together they would circle the yard with their noses to the ground, rooting out any rodents with great enthusiasm.
In spite of her harsh welcome, Missy endeared herself to the other dogs, as well as her human family. With lots of spirit and her wonderful personality, nothing ever got Missy down, and she finally earned her rightful place in our little dog pack. It seemed that it no longer mattered that she was white.
Bouncing across the grass, with her beautiful wheat-colored coat flying in the air, Missy looks as charming as a magazine picture, although she can instantly turn into a snarling fury should the occasion require it. A master hunter now, she has progressed to be the "leader of the pack" as they dash into the yard, barking to the world, "Here come the Scotties."
Of late, we have been calling Missy "The Little Princess," remembering the old story tale about the princess, who needed more and more mattresses on her bed, because she could always feel the pea underneath. You guessed it! Missy has developed a surreptitious affinity for sitting on the furniture. She loves to find pillows piled high upon a couch, or to climb onto the back of a chair to gain the best vantage point for eavesdropping upon the outside world. She is always the first to announce new arrivals within her territory.
A sense of belonging is important to people as well as to animals. At some time in our lives almost all of us have experienced the feeling that we are different, and it isn't easy being "white." Perhaps we think we don't fit in because of what we have or don't have, or the way we look or talk. Maybe the presence of certain other people just makes us feel insecure.
But, just like Missy, individuality can be a good thing for us, too. Sometimes the quality of being different can be the catalyst which leads us to try harder, to a take a different approach or maybe even find a better solution in our life. It's not always easy "being white," but we can turn it into an advantage, if we wish.
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From the Editor
This story brings to mind several ways that we should not act. How many of us have entered into a group only to be treated like the little white puppy? How many of us, when visiting a church was treated like the little puppy? You didn't stay in that church, did you?
I know, some church groups, or people within the group, who claim to be Christian will go out of their way to put any newcomer in their place. After all "I was here first", "You should recognize ME as your BETTER. This is MY church! No! You are not any better, and maybe worse with that attitude.
Some reject the newcomer because they are different in appearance, or not as well dressed as we are. "After all, THEY could have put on good clothes to come to church instead of THAT." "Why, she has on an old house dress and he isn't even in a suit."
How do you know that they are not wearing their best? You judge them on what they are wearing?
But they are (black, white, yellow, purple, etc.)." Does their skin color also color their soul? With an attitude like that, your soul is black and theirs is white, and maybe that is why you don't like them. It is time to wash your soul again in the Blood of Jesus to make it white.
So what if they don't like the same foods that you do, or decorate their house in a different way? It is their soul that matters. For everyone that joins a new group, most will leave, being driven out, by those who are in the group. And then the members of that group say "Why can't we increase our membership?"
We must always remember that a new Christian is exuberant. They are ready to charge hell with a water pistol. I know that you have been there and are certain that they can't put out the fires of hell with that water pistol. Well maybe they can't, but if each one of us helps them by using our own water pistol then if we can't put out the fire we will at least drive the fire back to smoking embers instead of a roaring flame.
If you give every newcomer a chance, you will find that their differences really will not matter. Let us hope that instead of us changing them to be like us that we will change to be like them, exuberant and ready to charge hell with our own water pistol. So what if our water pistol went empty, just ask Jesus to fill it up again and He will.
Most times, we are like the little princess. We make much to much fuss about such little things that really does not matter in God's big plan.
We may not always realize that we are biting the newcomer on the nose, or just as bad, shunning them. When you ignore people, you are telling them that you don't want anything to do with them, and boy, does your actions ever scream out louder than your words ever can. When you say "I love you" but your eyes are like the frozen north, they recognize your lie instantly.
When you have Jesus in your heart, you will not bite, shun, or trample those around you. Your love will pour out and everyone will know that you are a Christian instead of a hypocrite.
In this story, the white dog had love in its heart and overcame. With God's love in our heart, we can overcome every obstacle.
Rev Jack Barr, Editor