Grantham, A story for all dog and God lovers!


The Story of our Graham, short for Grantham.


     A heart wrapped in fur, a little on the stubborn side but so darn cute it doesn't matter, our heart's snuggery as well as our dream come true, that is who Graham is. Graham reminds me of the Motown song, 'Loving you has made my life sweeter.' Who would have ever though that a puppy from the Lord (His choice and timing) would be a gift that would outdo so many other pleasures in our life thus far? Well, Graham is and this is his story.

 Patch was a great dag....  Very Loyal    A few months after loosing our black lab- springer spaniel Patch, ( our 'baby' for ten years), we were ready to look for another 'mans best friend' as our hearts had healed and we knew that we had an abundance of love to give to another dog. Thus, we began our adventure of looking.  Our first possibility was a handsome and rambunctious German Shepherd puppy at the humane society. After an hour of play time,we put our names in to adopt him. Though a tedious procedure, we had faith that if he was to be ours, all would work out.  As we went to Pets mart to check out the costs for a new puppy and all that it would entail, we saw an absolutely regal dog that looked just like our Patch, only bigger. I was immediately drawn to this dog and it's owner. As we began chatting, it was obvious that this dog was one in a million. His name was Winston.  He was a year and a half old, completely trained, loyal, faithful, full of love and had been cultivated and groomed  as a bomb sniffing dog for the police force. But the kicker was they had to give this beautiful dog up as the owner, Suzanne, was allergic to Winston's  hair and it caused her asthma to flare up. Wow! We were so thrilled to think that perhaps God brought us together this very day to meet Suzanne and Winston and that he would soon be ours.

     Suzanne, her husband and Winston came over one afternoon to allow Winston to  see our home and observe him as he scouted out the new territory.   Would  he like his new home, yard , bed and us, his new parents? They stayed about an hour .  All went well and they assured us they would call Kit and I when they made their final decision.

     So we waited.  Already it had been about 3 weeks since we had met them and we both agreed that we could wait a little longer. As we prayed, the Lord confirmed to us to "Wait." Meanwhile, we heard from the humane society that the German Shepherd puppy was no longer up for adoption as he had been showing signs of aggression and was not a puppy for anyone who would have children around. Our hearts were so settled on Winston at this time that we didn't mind.

     The night arrived that Suzanne  had told Kit and I she would call and give us their decision about Winston. The phone rang. I was nervous as I picked it up knowing we would hear a yes or no. Oh how I wanted it to be a yes. I had already fallen in love with Winston and my heart was set. Their answer that evening was neither a yes or a no but another, "Wait". They were really struggling to let their 'baby' go....could we wait two more weeks for their answer?  As hard as it was (wanting so badly to KNOW if he was ours),  we said yes.

     The weeks passed all to slowly as pertaining to Winston. I really wanted this dog  but I continued to surrender it all to the Lord. We really desired His will and highest choice for our home. Finally, the weeks passed and they called. This time it was Suzanne's husband as she could not bare to tell me.

   "We have decided to keep Winston after all". He said in an apologetic tone. "We are so sorry you have had to wait all of this time but we have decided to shave Winston so Suzanne can be near him and not have her asthma flair up. We wish you and Kit the best in your continued dog search."

     Needless to say, I was crestfallen. We had waited so long and now, with all hopes of having Winston withdrawn, I felt a void inside. I wondered why the Lord told Kit and I to wait for Winston when the answer after so many weeks  of  hoping and expecting would be that we would not get him after all. I kept busy with work and just put our whole 'dog search' on a back burner.

     A few mornings later in prayer, the Lord spoke to me.

   "Susan, You and Kit need not wait any longer. You may begin looking for your new dog as he is here for you now."

     My heart rejoiced. I didn't even care if God gave me the answers of why we waited for Winston when in the end, we did not get him.  I knew now that Winston was a closed door and the Lord had something else for us.

     We began our search that weekend. I spent most of Saturday on the phone calling ads, talking to many a dog owner. Each one sharing about their litter of puppies. Either the mixed breed was wrong, the puppies were sold, they were to expensive, to far away or just not what we were looking for. I did however leave a message at one home and had not heard back yet. It was about 5:30 PM and I was beat. It was a warm and sultry July evening and our weekend together. All I wanted to do was run a hot bubble bath,( turn the AC on full blast), order our favorite Italian pizza, rent a movie and relax with Kit. Not only had we waited 6 weeks for Winston, but now, our entire Saturday's dog search seemed to be getting us nowhere. In my fatigue, I spoke out loud to Kit, but I was also sharing with the Lord my discouragement;

    "I am so tired and I just can't do this anymore. I give up  searching  today and I am going to take my hot, bubble bath."

      No sooner did I start running the hot water that our phone rang. Here is the amazing story but it still gets better!

     Picking up the phone looking forward to my hot soothing bath I answered;    "Hello, Susan speaking."

    "Hi Susan, my name is Mary. You left me a message today regarding my puppies for sale.".

    "Yes, " I said, feeling a glimmer of hope again.

    "Well, let me tell you what I have. Last weekend I placed an ad in the paper for my litter of puppies. They were all Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Lab mixes. All my puppies sold last weekend. The Newspaper ran my ad again in this weekend's paper by accident. Funny thing though, last night, the first puppy to go, (the pick of the litter) was returned to me. The family that bought him had a two year old little boy. They didn't know that he was allergic to the dogs hair and he ended up in the emergency room, very sick with an asthma attack. Sadly, they had to bring him back. So, I have one puppy left that is once again for sale. When I got your message today, you sound like you truly love dogs, so I called you back to offer this little guy to you"

    "Wow! That is really something." I replied , my heart filled with excitement . Then with the thought that if we didn't go quickly someone else would, I asked her if we could come that night to see him.

    "Absolutely. Let me give you my address and phone number in case you get lost."

    "Okay thanks, we will see you in about an hour or so. Bye".

     The drive to see this little pick-of-the-litter puppy was beautiful. It was near dusk and we drove over the Potomac River to Maryland to a home out in the country. The sky was bathed in golden hues of yellow and orange as the sun was setting. My heart was elated and filled with hope. Yes, Winston was fully trained and full of love and this would be an 8 week old puppy, a life to mold all over again like when Patch arrived to our home as a baby. Patch wasn't that much work  was he? Well, we would see when we met the new pick-of-the-litter. As we knocked on the door my heart was pounding, knowing within seconds I would meet this little guy. Sure enough she was holding him in her arms when she greeted us at the door.


     "Oh my gosh" I blurted out as he was so cute.

  He is a pup    A little fluff ball is what he was. I held him for a few minutes as he was impatient to get down. He ran over to the couch, turned his furry head and looked up at me as if to say, "I am going to get up on this couch alone and PLEASE do not even think of trying to help me." (You know that independent attitude.) He tried and tried to jump up on the couch only to no avail, still taking peeks at me to see if I was watching. I could not resist, I went over and put him on the couch where he waddled to the end and curled up in a little ball like he was going to sleep...(making brief glances at me with his very immense and alluring brown eyes.)

     I knew he was ours for he captured my heart from moment one. Even though it meant potty training, crate training and sleepless nights for awhile, I was game. We got his records, paid for our new entrusted find and were on our way.

     What I felt holding our new little guy in my arms as we drove back to Virginia was that of a child, filled with wonder and awe on Christmas morning, eying all of their new found treasures under the tree. I had a towel on my lap and around him as it was a bit chilly with our jeeps AC on. He fell asleep on my chest waking up a few times, glancing up into my eyes to see who was holding him, then he'd fall asleep again. As we crossed over the Washington Bridge, with all the city lights of Alexandria glistening like a scene in a fairytale, I felt such a feeling of "home", an abundance of love, peace and total contentment. We were so blessed by God to have this new little addition to our home and lives. (Thank you Lord for having us wait.)

     The first stop that night was Pets mart to get a crate, food , toys etc... (all of our puppy's needs).

     Our first night was hysterical! Our rice bed was entirely to high for this little guy to see us in the night  so we got our air bed out and blew it up. We set up camp in our living room downstairs, his crate right next to us so he could see Kit and I and would know he was not alone. As soon as the lights went down, and the blessed quiet before sleep had arrived, he began to cry. We tried everything we could think of to calm him but it was to no avail. The battle of who would win that night had begun. In his last endeavor, Kit got an empty spray bottle and filled it with water. Every time he cried, Kit would squirt him and within about 5 squirts  he stopped crying, curled up  and fell asleep. This went on for  a few nights and before we knew it, he was ready to go to sleep when we were. Ah, the sound of quiet!

     One training session down and plenty more to go  but it truly was fun! Every part of raising him was priceless. First off, we had to decide on a name. Sylvester was the name the first family chose for him. No way! He was definitely more sophisticated! We chose Grantham and named him Graham for short. That fit him perfectly.

     Graham brought a symphony of joy, laughter and love to our quiet home and created a bustle of action everywhere he'd go. Every day he got cuter. He loved to hide under our dining room table each time he would hear me say;

     "Hey buddy, do you need to go outside?" (Still that little independent and stubborn spirit, wanting to be the boss.) He would nestle up to me as I sat down on the floor with him to take his afternoon naps. I would just sit there in awe and admire him off in slumber land, he was so precious! Graham also won the hearts of our entire neighborhood. When we put him outside in our front yard, we met neighbors we never even knew we had. He became our streets "center of attention". Every weekend we took him to Pets Mart to begin his socialization skills, meeting other dogs, children and people. All I can tell you is EVERYONE fell in love with him at first sight  just as we did. With every week, he got more and more adorable (as if that was even possible) .



     I do not remember exactly when we found out that Graham was not the breed we were told by his breeder. We had been telling everyone who admired him and asked what kind of dog he was  that he was a Chesapeake Bay retriever and Lab mix. One afternoon at Pets Mart, a woman (who had overheard us talking) came up to Kit and I and said ;

     "This captivating puppy of yours in not what you think. If you can, go to the Internet and look up the breed, Briard. I think you will be surprised.  "

     Oh my gosh, when we went and researched Briards, there was Grahams IDENTICAL twin on the screen, even down to the five colors of hair on his chest that looked as if we professionally got his hair highlighted. But how did this happen? We immediately called Mary, the woman who sold us Graham, hoping she could shed some light. We were taken aback when we heard that her phone had been disconnected, (with no new number).  We were baffled but I  must say,  very blessed as we began exploring and learning all about Briards. All of my life I had been a connoisseur of English Sheep dogs! (Well ever since I watched Please Don't Eat the Daisies as a little girl and adored their dog Ladadog.) I prayed for an English sheep dog and the only reason we never pursued that dream was the cost and rarity of the breed. Without even knowing it, as we had waited all those weeks for Winston, God was preparing Graham for us, a Briard, a breed in the sheep dog family. It touched my heart so much that God had heard my heart and chose the timing, the breed and the exact dog HE had for us. I am so glad we obeyed His voice to "WAIT". We thought we were waiting all that time for Winston, but in actuality, we were waiting for God and His best for us and BOY WAS IT WORTH IT! We also found it to be no coincidence that the reason Suzanne and her husband were giving Winston up was because of her asthma in reaction to his hair. (The same reason Graham (Sylvester )was returned to his breeder as the little 2 yr. old boy had an asthmatic attack because of his hair. )


     As Graham grew out of his puppy stage and got older, it was easy for all eyes to see that yes, he was a Briard. A dog much like the sheepdog in that they are loving, loyal, protective and adore their families. The Briard is often referred to as "A heart wrapped in fur". Graham has been with us now for almost seven years and has brought more joy to our lives than we could have ever imagined. When we drive around town, Graham loves to sit in the drivers seat as we leave to do our errands. For passers-by, Graham has been mistaken for Cousin IT, a black bear and a hairy man but always adorable and an attention getter . The blessing is that he is just as resplendent on the inside as he is on the outside.


     In ending this story of the gift God gave us in our Graham along with the way He did it, I want to add a few of our favorite moments with him over the last 7 years.


Graham, a heart wrapped in fur     As a puppy, when we lived in Alexandria VA., we would say "Grahammy, go and get the paper." Low and behold, he would go outside and get the newspaper in his mouth and bring it to the front door, so proud of his accomplishment his tail would wag for several  minutes. He growls (showing all of his teeth) at my blow dryer when I am drying my hair, greets and kisses  (OK, slobber kisses) everybody who visits us with an abundance of love, adores road trips, McDonald's cheeseburgers, (no onions), Pecan Sandie's and ice. Kit and I always smile when we remember this one night while staying at a B&B in Connecticut. We decided to take a late night Jacuzzi, Graham patiently resting beside the tub. Suddenly,totally unexpected and out of his character, Graham jumped into the water to be with us(and he dislikes hot water.) He hates to be without us and as a herding dog, he tries to bring the three of us into the same room every chance he gets. He loves sitting on the couch with us to watch TV, gets a 5 course meal every night, cocks his head back and forth when we ask him questions, loves frolicking in the snow and chasing deer, bunnies and squirrels. When we lived in South Carolina and I would run on my cousins two acres of land along side his home, I'd run a few laps with hand weights then drop the weights to the ground. Graham, (my observing fan on the side lines), would actually go and pick up the hand weight in his mouth and bring it to me on my jaunt. He loves to snuggle, protects our household and is our dream come true.


     The Lord only has the best gifts for us and He loves to bless us with our hearts desires. Whenever I begin to doubt this truth, when my faith is being tested or an undesirable circumstance comes into our lives, I think of Graham. I think of how God cared so much to give us only THE BEST as He knew how much Graham would grace our lives with love and pure joy for many years to come.


     Delight yourselves also in the Lord and he shall give you the desires of your heart, Psalms 37: 4

An Appearance to Remember It was a dark, stormy day.....
The Letter I will never forget this night for as long as I live...God's grace is awesome.
The Healing In the midst of all of the heartache, something unbelievable happened....a warmth invaded my soul....
You Can Never Out*Give God...My gift of Addison There she was, unabashedly standing in front of our home, beckoning me.... 
A Transformation of Every Kind. What happened next was beyond my comprehension.