Suzanne Hadley Gosselin: When my kids rescued a stray dog, I learned an important lesson

A few months ago, a stray dog followed my husband and kids home from a walk through the neighborhood. The little terrier mix was scratched and caked with mud. She jogged on the opposite side of the road most of the walk, finally letting my 6-year-old daughter approach her when they arrived home. She was shivering, either from exposure, hunger or fear.

I was out for the evening, and when my husband called me, I was hesitant to take in another canine. (We already have a rescue dog we adopted earlier this year.) But my husband convinced me it was the "right thing to do," so we decided to feed her and put her up in a kennel for the night. Over the next few days, we did all we could to find her family (unfortunately she wasn’t chipped) to no avail.

At first the little dog cowered each time we approached her, but as my young children heaped love on "Sophie," she began to come alive, sprinting around the back yard with the kids and demanding belly rubs. Within days, she began to thrive under our attention and care.

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Becoming Sophie’s unlikely caregivers got me thinking about the people who may be following us — wanting (and needing) to be invited into our lives. Like the timid pup, they trail near us in our neighborhoods, at our churches, in our workplaces. They are in desperate need of love but hesitant to force their way into our lives.

as a busy mom of four young children, I sometimes forget about the outlier. I get wrapped up in my own comfortable little haven and I shut my door. But that’s not God’s way.

I think one of the coolest things about having a family is how it expands our reach. We can love and care for neighbors, the crossing guard at school, other moms at the soccer game, teachers, even the cashier at the store with whom my extra-talkative daughter strikes up a conversation. Opportunities are plentiful for the love we share as a family to spill out onto the people around us.

But like my husband, Kevin, we have to notice those wandering near us and invite them in. We need to actively look for ways to love them. That can be really hard for me sometimes. To be honest, had I found Sophie, I may have just shut the door and left her outside, hoping she’d find her way.

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Similarly, as a busy mom of four young children, I sometimes forget about the outlier. I get wrapped up in my own comfortable little haven and I shut my door. But that’s not God’s way. He tells us to care for others with the love and compassion of Christ (Ephesians 4:32), to show hospitality, to welcome the outsider. As we do that, God will use us — and our kids — to call out life and hope in those we meet.

After a month of searching for Sophie’s family, we were able to find her an adoptive home where she will be loved. Not only that, we learned she was a super-sweet dog with lots of love to give. And that’s what it’s all about — looking around for those who need a little extra care and inviting them into a safe environment where they can thrive.

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