He was not going to cry. He was not going to cry! He was really not going to cry at all. Right now.
He could feel the sniffles starting. What to do?
If no one was looking, he could quietly wipe his nose against one of those soft things that the housekeepers had carelessly left on the floor instead of taking carefully to the water box that freshened stuff. Cedric himself was not a big fan of the water box. It was a bit too loud for his tastes. But he would be the first to admit to you that the water box was pretty good about taking old smells out of soft things that his people were constantly using to wrap around themselves, or carry with themselves, or pass back and forth between them.
Now, why anyone would even bother with the soft things his people used – instead of just using the tongues they carried with them everywhere, and which could have been much better utilized for cleaning than they actually were – Cedric could not honestly say. But they sure could save themselves a lot of time and trouble to clean themselves the way that Cedric cleaned himself every day.
Of course, all that extra cleaning using only his tongue and whatever saliva he could dredge up meant that he was putting an extra load on his immune system. But he figured that he was young and he could handle it. Besides which, how else was he supposed to get clean by himself? Without asking someone else – who was very likely overworked and overtired – to help him clean up.
If there was one thing that Cedric did not like to do, it was to make extra work for the housekeepers. Anything he could do to lighten their loads was a sacrifice that he would gladly make. For example, if he found a piece of old food lodged under the dining table, did he call someone from “Clean-Up” to get over there right away and make things right? No, sirree! Not him. He did not wait for someone else to take care of the mess. He did the work himself.
But did anyone thank him for his sacrifices? Did anyone genuinely appreciate the work he quietly did on a daily basis for the good of his family?
Well, if he was looking for applause, he would have to look for it somewhere else. Because his people were too busy with their own jobs to recognize and reward him for a job well done.
These thoughts were not making his desire to cry diminish.
The sniffles hadn’t diminished, either. Looking right, left, and behind him, he crept quietly over to the bed cover and rolled his face around in a corner of it. The corner that hung off the edge anyway and that was technically not really being used – or scheduled to be used even after his girl was in the bed for the night. Yep. He could use that piece of softness to reach the moisture leaking out of his eyes and nose that he couldn’t quite reach to clean with his tongue. Surely no one could blame him for that. He had seen his own people do the same with soft things – ok, honestly, not the soft things that covered their beds, but soft things all the same!
Not wearing clothes, Cedric had no place to store a supply of his own soft things to wipe his face when he needed to. Until something changed, he’d just have to keep using what he could find nearby. Or borrow from someone else.
He wondered if what he was doing now clearly went against Jesus’ teachings about loving our neighbors. He wanted to love his neighbors – in this case, his people group – by taking good care of their possessions. But how was letting a trail of tears and nose-mucus soil the floor doing that? The only way he knew to keep his facial drips off the floor was to find something to wipe them on. He felt caught between two faults: letting his face drip on the floor, and thereby not loving his neighbors by leaving a mess there. Or wiping his face on something that did not belong to him, and thereby not loving his neighbors by using their possessions to clean his messes without their permission.
If only one of the other dogs were around! One of these girls would have loved to lick him all over the face while he was so drippy, she would have done it gladly, without being asked, and his problem would have been solved. Oh, if only it were that easy!
But the ladies had ensconced themselves privately together in another room. AND THEY HAD NOT INVITED HIM!!!
This was not just the reason for his problem with containing his sniffles. It was the reason for his deep depression in the first place! There they were, Fluffy and Lola, having a sleepover in THE BROTHER’s room. And they had not even invited him. Had not, in fact, even thought about inviting him. And after they were all huddled up in there, comfy, cozy, and excluding him, THE MOMMY had come along and slid the sliding door to THE BROTHER’s room so far to the end of the track that no self-respecting dog would even attempt to nudge a small toenail into the crack to try to start wedging the door back open again.
Even THE MOMMY was against him!
But THE SISTER was no better. “You’re MY dog, Ceddie!” she told him, trying to lean in for a hug, which he did not care to give her right now because if she really knew what he was feeling, she would know that no amount of hugging could solve the problem of his being excluded from this important meeting of the other dogs! “It wouldn’t be fair for Damien to get to sleep with all the dogs at once. I really need you here with me,” she finished. And then SHE shut her own door. Making him a prisoner in his own luxury suite!!!
Just yesterday Cedric had been proud to have his own luxury suite, shared with a beautiful and kind little girl with whom he also shared a bed, carefully letting her get into it first and take the part she wanted before he also climbed up for the night. His generous nature would not allow him to climb up first and claim the king’s share. Although he clearly deserved it, being her protector and all. But he was not going to argue the point.
Yep. He had been glad to have his own luxury suite and a sweet, kind bedmate, who sometimes also functioned as his housekeeper. He had even been thankful. For several weeks, Cedric had found himself quietly sending up thankful prayers for all the wonderful blessings he found in his life.
But that was then.
Those days, not two days before, were the good old days.
Now the family had adopted (“taken in” they said) their “grand-doggie” Lola for “a while” – whatever that meant. Before he even knew what was happening to him, Cedric saw all the attention and kindly words that used to flow his way, now finding their way over to this little white ragmop of an intruder called Lola, who yipped and yapped and jumped into laps before anyone could even remember to ask, “Where’s Cedric? Shouldn’t someone be caring for Cedric?” Excellent questions! Cedric thought. But no one was asking them.
And on this first night of Lola’s unexpected, unannounced intrusion, all the dogs EXCEPT HIM were sleeping together in THE BROTHER’s room, having, no doubt, a jolly old time.
Unhappily, he sniffed suddenly, awaking his girl. She squirmed under the covers, then sleepily whispered, “It’s all right, Ceddie! I still need you! Go back to sleep!”
Indeed! Sleep was not so much a need as was information. Quietly, Cedric slipped off the bed and crept over to the closed door to see if he could hear what the ladies were discussing in the other room.
“Oh, Honey, I am feeling your pain! I really am!” Fluffy was whispering. “But, honestly, a new baby is not the end of the world. Believe me, I know. I once suffered a new baby of my own.”
There was a sharp intake of breath, then, “Really, Fluffy? You had a new baby, and you weren’t forgotten? And nothing bad happened?”
Fluffy continued her counseling, “Everything turned out just fine. In fact, you’re sleeping next to my baby right now.”
“THE BROTHER? He was your baby?” Lola was clearly impressed. In fact, this was new information to Cedric, as well, and he couldn’t help being a bit proud of Fluffy. There was apparently more to her than just cute, curly black hair after all.
“Once your baby gets here,” Fluffy was saying, “Your parents will be right back over to pack you up and take you right back home with them where you belong. They just left you here temporarily so that if they have to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night or at some other odd time, you won’t be left home alone for several hours or days at a time while they’re gone. This did this for your own good. Believe me, they don’t want to leave you permanently here any more than you want to be left!”
Lola, still breathing heavily, managed to huff, “Do you really think so, Fluffy? No one even told me I was coming here. And it’s so new and so strange. And I can’t even sleep in a real bed. Just this cage. It’s like,” she paused to sniffle a bit and scratch an itch somewhere on her leg, “It’s like they think I’m AN ANIMAL!”
“Silly girl!” Fluffy replied. “You ARE an animal! At least to their thinking. Until you quit leaking all over their nice, clean floors, they’ll keep on think of you as an animal. One that needs to be contained at night.”
Cedric shivered, hearing these cold words. Fluffy having started out so well could have been a bit more diplomatic there at the end, couldn’t she? But she had never been one to mince words. She ought to be able to come up with a little something to soften the blow of these harsh words. He listened more carefully, wondering what else he was missing.
“Fluffy, I’m so lonely!” Lola whimpered.
But Fluffy was already snoring. And to underline her need for sleep, she not only said nothing in reply, she snored even louder.
“I’M LONELY!!” Lola cried, loud enough to wake the household.
Cedric’s heart went out to her. Whose heart wouldn’t go out to a damsel in distress? Especially when she was crying. Softly, he called, “Lola, can you hear me?”
The sniffles in the other room quieted, followed by a whispered, “Who’s that?”
“It’s me, Cedric!” he whispered back.
“The SCARY DOG?” she yelped. “What do you want? I’m leaving all your stuff alone. Completely alone! I promise!”
“I’m not here to talk about my stuff,” he called back. “Are you ok?”
She sniffed again. “How ok can I possibly be when my parents abandoned me here and everyone is making me SLEEP IN MY KENNEL INSTEAD OF A REAL BED? WOULD YOU BE OK UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES? COULD ANYONE BE OK AT A TIME LIKE THIS?”
“SHUT UP, LOLA!” whimpered THE BROTHER. “Don’t you know we’re all trying to sleep? You can sleep any time you want, but this is my only chance.”
Clearly, it was time for Cedric to take over now that Fluffy had heartlessly fallen asleep on the job. “It’s all right, Lola,” he whispered. “I’m here for you.”
“Really,” she whispered back.
“All night, if you need me.”
“Thank you,” she answered, sounding a bit more calm.
“We can talk all night, if that makes you feel better.”
“Oh, it really does. But Cedric?”
“I’m getting sleepy. It has been a long day. I think I’m about to fall asleep.”
“Good girl!” he replied. “Let me know if you need anything.”
“Well, then, good night!”
“Good night, Cedric.”
His job was done. He could return now to his own comfy bed with a clear conscience, knowing he had done all he could. Well, almost all he could. Starting to sink down into the soft covers of the bed, he quietly prayed in his heart, Lord Jesus, please be with our little guest, Lola, as she stays here and waits for her very own baby. Please soothe her heart and give her peace, and let us make her visit as pleasant as possible. Thank You! Amen!
P.S. Cedric is actually a real person. He goes by a different name at our house. But he is our darling. And we love him almost unconditionally. Except for nights when he and Lola (her real name) keep us up all night with their whining. I was surprised to learn that the first night Lola came to us, my son and daughter got almost no sleep at all. As I tried to hustle them through a busy morning, they both informed me that the dogs had heartlessly stolen all their sleep the previous night. Thus, the idea for this story came to be.
Praying for you to find the joy and the blessings in your daily life,