Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How Micah Shewit met Maddie, our Energetic Dog!

When we started the process of adopting Micah Shewit we had no idea how the dog would go over with a 6 year old boy who was terrified of "dogs". He had probably seen Hyenas first hand and that alone would traumatize most kids. I remember the mixed feelings of being so excited to have Micah home with us but the queasy feelings of the possibility of saying goodbye to a pet that the family adored. Tears would immediately spring up in my eyes at the thought of saying goodbye to Maddie, but I adored a little boy in Ethiopia so much more. The whole family did and we all knew the possibility of Micah being terrified of Maddie was huge. We committed to say goodbye to our precious pet so Micah would feel safe.

Part of Micah's story is that he was a Shepherd Boy in the Northern mountains of the Tigray region of Ethiopia. He lived with the goats and sheep. He probably spent many nights looking at the open sky. When his uncle bravely rescued him and brought him to the orphanage his feet where so damaged that they weren't sure he would ever have normal feet. He told me that he wore no shoes and there were open wounds on his feet that hurt him when he walked.

Well, on the other side of the world we rescued a dog, to Mark's chagrin , who was found running down the interstate. When they found her, she was skin and bones. Mark was out of town so I begged him to just let me keep her in the garage while he was gone. I had a family that we could take her to if it didn't work out. Well....even Mark had to admit he liked this dog, but he would name her. Thus, the name: Maddie. I still believe it was motivated by him being "Mad" at me for instigating getting a dog in the first place. We had been asking for over 5 years though!

We fell in love with Maddie...a Catahoula Leopard (most people say, a whata?), she's a big dog with LOTS OF ENERGY!! Mckenzie says she's a "huntin' dog" and she's provin that by how she runs down squirrels on our morning jogs. (I've never run so fast or yelled so loud in my life!...I really gotta get some roller skates!) She's a lover and even puts up with our cats to appease us. Although, they antagonize her all the time! She protects us from the garbage man every week! And she takes pride in guarding the kids from any approaching odd characters.

Because Maddie is big and full of bountiful energy, we were very nervous to introduce her to Micah. On our way home we started showing him pictures of her with the kids hanging all over her. He didn't seem bothered.

When we got home, we had Michelle put her in the garage for us so Micah could feel safe the first night in a new bed. Well....sometime in the night Maddie was let in and early that morning jumped up on Micah's bunk bed to welcome him to America. I knew something was up because Maddie came down the steps with her tail between her legs and my stomach fell to the floor! When I found Micah he had the covers over his head and was crying. I felt sick. He told me the "Wusa" (dog) had jumped up on his bed and tried to eat him. Of course, I knew Maddie was licking him, but to a child that has been taught that dogs eat kids......all we could do was love him...and Maddie went outside.

After a few hours and a lot of praying and loving. I believe our prayers were answered. I had Mark cuddle Micah on our steps looking down at our front entrance, then I let Maddie in and I laid down like I was asleep. She licked me all over the face in excitement. Then Mckenzie came and laid down and the same thing happened. Maddie was in heaven...we never let her lick us like this. (The girls took one for the family dog!)

Micah came a little closer, ran to her, gave her a quick pat and dashed back up the steps! An hour later we repeated the same thing!
This time Micah watched for about 15 minutes then timidly came up and offered his hand to Maddie to lick. She wouldn't do it, so daddy went to get the peanut butter and put a little on the back of his hand. Cautiously we watched as Maddie gently licked it off of him. Micah just giggled with excitement then put his WHOLE HAND in the peanut butter. Mark and I nervously watched as Maddie licked around every one of his little fingers. ( I was praying the whole time holding her leash ready to pull her back!)
All his little fears had vanished. He surprised us all when he put peanut butter on his face for her to lick off next. I can't say that after I thought a dog was going to eat me that I would have him anywhere near my face. This child has such a strong overcoming spirit in him. There we were watching it first hand. It was an amazing moment for the whole watch a brave little boy conquer his fears. I'm going to remember this day the next time I have a fear that I think I can't overcome....with a little love and prayer, (and a little bit of peanut butter) we can overcome anything the world throws at us. (Phil. 4:13)

Needless to say, we gave Micah a good shower after that and as you can see by the pictures, Micah and Maddie adore each other. Maybe it's because they both know they have been someone that loves them unconditionally.