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Lessons From Rosa View Comments
By Colleen Shaddox

Colleen Shaddox and her trusted companion, Rosa.
“I love because I love,” wrote St. Bernard of Clairvaux. “I love in order that I may love.” How appropriate that the mystic shares a name with a dog breed.

As a Christian, I know that love is a gift to be given with no thought of reward. But I confess I’ve tended to love those who love me back and are kind to me—an inferior variety of love that Jesus relegated to “tax collectors.” I’ve always admired dogs because they love with abandon, not expectation.

That is, until I met Rosa. We arrived at the shelter, amazed that this cute puppy wasn’t adopted at its last event. Yet here she was: four white paws and a natural dark-chocolate eyeliner that made her look inexpressibly soulful.

“Why did her sister get adopted and not her?” I asked. The woman who runs the place speculated that it was because this pup did not scamper up to people with a plea to “love me” on her face.

Indeed, she ignored us. She preferred to munch on the phone books in the shelter office. I sat on the floor and waited. Eventually, she crawled into my lap and began chewing on the buttons of my coat. I was besotted.

Rosa quickly proved herself the smartest dog I’ve ever had. For example, a dog confronted with two tennis balls will usually puzzle over which one to choose and switch back and forth. Rosa takes one in her mouth and uses it as a tool to push the second along. If she had language and opposable thumbs, she’d be holding my leash.

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Colleen Shaddox is a writer, a wife, and a mother of an 18- year-old. She lives in Hamden, Connecticut.

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