Note: The many pictures in the story below can be viewed in the PDF file on this page. Viewing the PDF is highly recommended.
Baptist the Dog
by Heather Ross
Every child, at one time or other, longs for a pet, and the desire of the four Roberts children was no different.
Heather, Melissa, Jonathan, and Joshua wanted a dog. It didn’t matter what kind of dog—black, yellow, white; fat, normal-sized, thin; tiny, medium-height, or huge. Any canine would do.
And then it happened. Late one Sunday afternoon, a singular barking greeted the children’s ears. Four-year-old Jonathan was first to the window.
“A doggie!” he yelled excitedly. “A doggie came to visit!”
Dad bounded out the door, the three older children following.
To seven-year-old Heather and six-year-old Melissa, the dog, black with dingy white spots sprinkled across his body, was beautiful.
“Sure is a scrawny thing,” remarked Dad.
The dog leaped forward toward Jonathan, scraping a course tongue across the little boy’s face. His tail, mainly white, swung like a fast-paced metronome, thumping against Jonathan’s chest and Dad’s nearby leg.
“Can we keep him?” Melissa asked.
“For now,” Dad said.
“Let’s name him,” Heather added.
The children shook their heads.
Nothing seemed to do.
“I know!” their preacher-father suggested. “How about Baptist?”
“Why ‘Baptist,’ Rhon?” Mom asked.
“He came on a Sunday—between church services, so you could say he was late to church—like a good Baptist!”
The children chuckled, not really knowing why but giggling anyway, since their parents were both laughing.
So the name was decided.
That afternoon, the children accompanied their parents to a graduation party. All Heather could think of was Baptist. Where was he now?
Exploring the hay mow? Chasing one of the many barn cats? Exploring the ruins of the former pig barn?
Baptist would make a fine pet, she knew. She dreamed of how fun it would be as she and her siblings chased Baptist, played fetch with him, and watched him chase butterflies.
She imagined how fun it would be to enjoy his company at the nearby creek, where they would wade and he would sit, contentedly wagging his tail as she gathered snails. Oh, how wonderful to finally have a pet!
It was a dream come true!
The children talked excitedly on the way home from the party that day. Everyone anticipated life with Baptist.
“Can he stay in the house?” asked Jonathan.
“I want him to sleep in my room,” said Melissa.
As the red station wagon rounded the bend in the driveway, the children peered out the window, waiting for a flying tail and excited animal greeting.
They strained their eyes to make out a form dashing to greet them.
They tuned their ears to listen for a yelp, a howl, a bark—anything.
When Dad parked the car, kids bounded out, waiting for the thumping black tail of their new pet.
Or yips of joy.
Or even a tussle, knocking down little Josh.
Where was their pet? Where was Baptist?
All of the wonderful musings of that afternoon vanished that instant.
For the special pet who had wandered in was nowhere to be found. Baptist had disappeared!
Had he visited another farm that afternoon where he had found another group of children to love?
Where was Baptist? Had he returned to his previous owners?
Day passed day. And still, no Baptist.
Week followed week. And still, their dog had not returned.
When weeks turned into months, everyone realized—Baptist would never be part of special family times together as they had hoped.
But Baptist would remain a special memory for each member of the family. Although his visit lasted just a few hours one Sunday afternoon, this special dog would live in the children’s memories for decades to come.
Besides, Baptist had taught the Roberts’ kids an important lesson.
Although a dog promises happiness for many future days, true joy can be found at all times only in a Person. His name is Jesus.
While a dog may go down as “man’s best friend,” Jesus will never disappear, like Baptist did. In fact, He has promised never to leave or forsake those who belong to Him.
Yes, a dog can provide happy days of enjoyment and special times for kids, but Jesus is with His children all the time.
Because Jesus is eternal, His children can enjoy Him every day into eternity. A dog may be a fun pet and a special companion, but Jesus Alone is the Friend who “sticks closer than a brother.”
After Baptist’s unfortunate departure, Dad started thinking.
It really would be nice to have a dog.
And one day during the long summer that followed, the four children would pile into the red station wagon and visit a special place where they would locate their very first farm dog. But that’s a story for another time.
How the Roberts children found and named the dog who actually did all the things they thought Baptist would—will be the subject of our next adventure, when we learn of a gentle beagle-collie who filled days on the Roberts’ farm as Baptist might have…but never did.