Puppy Names and the Grace of God

We tend to remember the times that God works in mysterious ways. Or, when He works in utterly amazing, miraculous ways.  But, it’s easy to miss when He works in the mundane moments of our everyday life….this is a story about one of those times.  

Our 13 year old daughter Amanda has been asking for a puppy every birthday and every Christmas for the last 3-5 years.  And my husband, Jeff, who for the past few years had declared that we were on the “pet-attrition” program had a change of heart and remembered that he had also declared (for many years) that if he ever got another dog, it would be a golden retriever. 

So, the decision was made and we surprised Amanda on Christmas morning, not with a puppy, but with a dog training book that let her know it was time to begin the hunt for the perfect pup. She was overwhelmed with emotion and excitement and let’s just say that we all shed a few tears the morning of December 25, 2018.

We spent a few days after Christmas searching online for a puppy.  We considered rescues and older puppies but ended up purchasing an 8 week old bundle of love from a local breeder. 

Choosing the puppy was actually a pretty easy process. Choosing a name for her, however, almost brought our family to blows. 

I’m embarrassed to admit how many conversations and how much time was spent amongst the family discussing potential names. 

Some of us were pretty low key about the name choice, agreeable to many of the potential names and open to almost all of them.  

Others of us……well, not so much.

Amanda and Jeff, in particular, had very strong feelings about the name. Both of them would choose a name and declare it as the “perfect” name for the puppy.  

Jeff decided “Maggie” was the perfect name.  

Amanda vetoed it. 

She liked the name “Reese” which Jeff vetoed. Apparently, he wanted a two-syllable name that ended with the “ie” sound.  

This went on over various names, with each of them “vetoing” the other’s favorite name over and over again.  Pride set in and it quickly became clear that the puppy’s name was going to require a hard-fought battle between these two. 

On Saturday morning, January 5, Amanda, her big sister and I took off to pick up this unnamed puppy from the breeder. My husband was out of town so he and Amanda debated the name over FaceTime for most of the car ride to and from the breeder’s home.  It appeared we would never have a name for this puppy. 

But, finally, a compromise was reached. They agreed on the name “Riley”….a name neither loved nor hated. By this time, the rest of us didn’t even care what we named her. We were just glad the fight was over.  

The girls and I brought “Riley” home and cared for her for two days before Jeff came back from a long road trip. Of course, as soon as he arrived, he wanted to see “Riley.” But the next item on his agenda was to find Amanda and have a little meeting with her.

“Hey, Amanda.  I’ve been thinking as I drove home today.  I’ve been really stubborn about the name for this puppy.  After all, you were the one who really wanted a puppy and you’ve been asking for one for a long time.  If it weren’t for you, we would not even have her. I’ve decided that YOU should be able to name this puppy whatever you want.”

The humility of my husband in that moment nearly brought me to tears.  But, what happened next is where I really saw the grace of God at work.  

My strong (and sometimes stubborn) 13 year old girl softened.  


Her humble response was simply, “Dad, I don’t want to name her something you don’t like.” She continued, “I want to name her Reese, but you don’t like that name for her.”

Now, that is moment where I saw the grace of God at work.  

You see, I have this belief that’s been expressed perfectly by one of my favorite pastors….

“God’s got this thing rigged.”

I interpret his statement like this….

When we do things God’s way, it not only brings glory to Him but it’s good for us.  It makes life work – it doesn’t mean that life will be easy but it does mean we experience a little bit of His kingdom here on earth.

And that’s what I witnessed in that moment….by reaching out in humility, Jeff broke the vicious cycle of pride and selfishness that had developed in their conversation.  As soon as he stopped demanding his will, she relinquished hers as well.  It was a beautiful moment for sure.

Of course, he insisted on allowing her to name the puppy and that cute little puppy above is our little Reese. Her name is a constant reminder to me of how God works in the regular moments of our everyday life. 

Kim Melnick is a prayer warrior wannabe who encourages women to deepen their prayer life by praying Scripture. Her prayer journals can be found on Amazon.

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