By Dave Brewer
My favorite Christmas was when I was ten years old, and I ran out to find a beautiful brown and white Basset Hound puppy under our Christmas tree all snuggled up in the sheet and sound asleep.
Tuffy became my constant companion, but he was useless to my father. My Dad bought him hoping that he would chase rabbits, but my dog took one step into a briar patch and must have said, “I’m not going in there, it’s full of sharp things.” My father was so disgusted with him that he put him in the car and never took him hunting again. Tuffy was a wimp.
Tuffy’s favorite pastime was lying in front of the hot air register in the wintertime, and he hated the cold so much that you had to boot him out the door to go to do his business. When it was warm, he would go out in the backyard and sneak through the bushes when you weren’t watching and run away.
Then I would spend the next hour walking all over our neighborhood looking for him while I was crying, hoping that he wouldn’t get hit by a car or get stolen. He didn’t know that bad people existed. Offer him food and he was your friend for life.
He wasn’t much of a watchdog either. The only thing that he ever growled at was my mother’s dust mop that she used to prod him to move so that she could dust.
He was my buddy, because he would dig in the snow with me when I was building a snow fort, or he would walk through the woods with me when I was hunting for salamanders. Like most dogs, he would sit next to the dinner table hoping you would drop something for him to scoop up. But he was a blind as a bat. You could drop a piece of meat in front of him, but he couldn’t find it and couldn’t smell it. He would have to hunt around for ten seconds or more until he found it. Hound dogs are supposed to have a sense of smell 100 times that of a human, but Tuffy had a dysfunctional nose.
My mother warned my brother and me one day that we had to be on our good behavior because our father’s boss was coming over for dinner. My brother and I were both watching our manners, while secretly kicking each other under the table. We had a delightful dinner until Tuffy got sick and interrupted us during dessert. We all froze in horror as we heard him by the front door, and then my Dad jumped up, ran to the door, opened it and shoved Tuffy out the door, launching him off our porch. It was like a crazy scene out of the television show The Middle.
One summer day he ran away and joined my friend’s father on his evening walk. He walked along side of Mr. Long until they came to the next block down from our house. There he encountered a beautiful lawn that could have been mistaken for Augusta National
Golf Course. He promptly left an early Christmas present on the lawn, and the lady of the house came out and screamed at Mr. Long, “Get your dog off of my lawn or I will call the police!” Exasperated, Mr. Long said, “It’s not my dog, it’s that Brewer kid’s dog.” But she wouldn’t hear of it. She screamed some more at him, and he proceeded to chastise Tuffy in some very strong language, but Tuffy was immune to people screaming at him by this time.
George Heavey, a writer for Field and Stream magazine, wrote an article about his friend’s dog that died, wondering why it choked him up so much. Although most of us fall in love and get married, if we mess up long enough, or bad enough, love folds its tent and walks away. But dogs are different.
He said that he could rob a bank and run over a mother duck and her ducklings while the police were chasing him, and when he got home his dog would still jump for joy and wag his tail, which in dog language was saying, “Boy, did I miss you!” He summarized by saying that dogs give us the same unconditional love that we experienced as children, that we all long for all of our lives.
Christians recognize that we find that unconditional love in the gift of Jesus Christ that the Heavenly Father gave us on the very first Christmas- the best Christmas ever. Isaiah 9:2 tells us, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” While we break God’s commandments, and place him on the back burners of our lives, he sent a Savior to die and to redeem us. Christmas is all about God’s unconditional love, the love that never folds its tent and