Lesson 1: About 3 years ago the time was right for the kids and I to get a dog, for me I knew it as a struggle to toilet train and teach a dog, I'm not very gifted with animals and I'm scared of big dogs. We worked out that the best sort of dog for us would be a little dog, so we began to look at shelters, on notice boards, in the paper etc. A couple of months later, one of my kids had a relief teacher, somehow we learned that she had a little dog, a maltese shitzu, about 1.5 yeas old that she could no longer look after, she had returned to work fulltime and had a 3 year old and a baby, they had bought the dog for $300 as a gift to the toddler and the novelty had worn off. Prayer was answered and we adopted that little dog, and we loved her right away. But she did come with some issues!, she was not de sexed and for some reason se hates men, any man that comes near us, (workmen, delivery men etc) she barks and barks. She is also very fluffy and needs lots of grooming. I didn't get her de sexed straight away because I couldn't afford it and I thought maybe she could have a litter of puppies and the kids could experience that. Anyhow she has this problem that after being in season, she must have a phantom pregnancy and thinks she has puppies. This is so werid!: She has collected toys around the house and looks after them as if they are her babies, she has 2 tiny rubber ducks that she carries around in her mouth, a pooh bear with a rattle inside and a care bear. She licks them and sits with them all day, she won't let you near them!! If I put her outside for a toilet break she comes to the door and scratches and cries until I let her back in. This has happened about 7 times now, and I know I will have to get her desexed. Anyhow this bizzare behaviour is so extreme that she is not easy to get along with while she's having this problem!, the kids complain "mom she won't be my friend", 'mom she is being mean to me", they want to hug her and take her to bed and she wants nothing to do with them, she growls at them, she even tricks them by not letting them walk past her 'puppies'!! One kid has even hidden the "puppies", hoping she will forget and come and play with Him! One will say hurt from rejection: She's a stupid dog. Yet everytime I have to keep saying 'this will pass, she has a problem, we just have to love her anyway and be patient, I have to remind them that she loves them still, she is the same dog but she's got a hormone problem. Over and over they forget and complain that she's doesn't love them anymore, she's no fun anymore, she won't spend time with them. It always passes and she returns to herself, the rubber ducks go back to the bathtub, pooh and care bear go back to the shelf, and she wants to be kissed and hugged and tucked up in someone's bed once again. Lesson 2: Its winter here and I put off getting the dogs hair cut so that she could be warm, she was getting smelly and fluffy so I decided to get it cut and put a jacket on her if its too cold. The kids helped cut her hair and when she was done, they just couldn't leave her be, "mom she looks like a baby lamb', "mom she is so beautiful now", "mom I can't leave her alone she's so soft", she looked brand new as white as snow and tiny as a puppy without all that fluff. My teenager came in and said, 'Mom I bet everyone will love her now and say how cute she is", 'everyone will want to pat her'. I said 'Didn't you think she was beautiful before? 'Well yeah, but she looks better now. And she did, but it made me think, does this world only love us when we are pretty and clean, when we are fun and agreeable. I hope this little dog can teach my kids that love is unconditional, teach them to be patient and kind and to love even when someone is out of sorts. I know God loves us, even on the days we are unshowered, when our legs are hairy, when we have hormone problems!! and when we are down right cranky and disagreeable. His Love is unchangeable, if only we could love like that!. Love Cindy.