I shall tell you a story.
Sixteen years ago, in a small town, there was a little girl and a little black dog. The little girl had found the little dog behind a building. He was cold and lost and scared, and the little girl wanted to find a good home for him. She thought and thought and thought, and then she remembered her family's pastor and his wife. They lived all by themselves in a small house behind the church, and they had no children to play with. The little girl thought it would be a wonderful idea to give them a little black dog.
She put a leash on the little dog, and started to walk with him. She walked all the way from her house in the middle of her town, past the school, past the fire department, over the railroad tracks, and out, out, out to the edge of town. She was so tired after her walk, and the little dog was so tired too, that they sat down in the grass outside the church and watched the bees fly around them.
The pastor was in his small house, and he saw the little girl and the little black dog when he looked out his window, and so he came outside to talk to them. He asked the little girl what she was doing, and why she had a little black dog. The little girl told the pastor that she had found the little black dog, and she wanted to find him a good home. The pastor and his wife were the best people she had ever met, and she knew that they would treat a little black dog very well.
The pastor shook his head. He didn't want the little black dog. He didn't have time to take care of a dog. He didn't have room for a dog. He thanked the little girl for thinking about him and his wife, but he just couldn't have a dog.
The little girl was very sad. She patted the dog on his head and scratched behind his ears, and told the little dog that she was sorry, but she would try again to find him a good home. She would try and try and try, even if it took her all week long. She said goodbye to the pastor, and picked up the little black dog's leash, and started to leave the churchyard.
Then the pastor called her name and told her to come back. He knelt down, and he patted the little black dog on his head and scratched behind his ears. The little black dog looked up at the pastor, and barked, and put his paw on the pastor's leg.
The pastor rubbed the dog's belly. The little girl asked the pastor if he was sure he didn't want a little black dog. Maybe, if he kept the dog for a few days, he might see that he really did want a little black dog. But, if the little girl came back, and the pastor still didn't have room in his house for a little black dog, she would take him away and find him another home.
The pastor smiled. The little girl smiled. The little black dog wagged his tail. The pastor told the little girl that he still didn't want a dog, but he would keep the dog for a couple of days, if she wanted him to. The little girl clapped her hands and hugged the pastor and ran all the way home.
A few days later, the little girl went back to the pastor's small house behind the church. She asked him if she should take the little black dog away. The pastor knelt down and put his arms around the little black dog and told the little girl that no one would take his dog away. He had a bowl to eat from and a bed to sleep in and a collar to wear and a bone to chew on. The little black dog had found a home.
The little black dog had great big paws, and the pastor and his wife knew that he would grow to be a great big dog. So they named him Goliath, after the giant in the Bible. And he grew and grew and grew until he was a great big dog!
Goliath lived with the pastor and his wife in their small house behind the church. The pastor's wife cooked breakfast for the pastor and for herself and for Goliath. She made little shoes for Goliath to wear when it was raining and muddy. The pastor built houses, and he took Goliath with him to construction sites. He bought a little tiny hard hat, and put a little strap on it, so Goliath could wear it around the houses the pastor built. Goliath played with all the children that came to the church, and sometimes, when the pastor forgot to close the door all the way, Goliath came inside the church and listened to the pastor preach his sermons.
The pastor would hug the little girl when he saw her, and thank her for bringing the little black dog to him and his wife. They were very happy together. Everyone loved Goliath, and Goliath loved everyone.
This is a true story. I was the little girl, and sixteen years ago, I really did take a puppy to my family's pastor. They had no children, because they couldn't have children. The pastor's wife had miscarried nine babies, and they had given up hope of ever having someone else in their lives. I brought them Goliath, and I gave them a family. Goliath was treated like a child and like a king. He wanted for nothing, and he wanted nothing more.
Unfortunately, true stories don't always have happy endings. Goliath had a heart problem that no one noticed until too late. Earlier this month, he walked out with the pastor to get the mail, like they had done every day for the past sixteen years. He laid down beside the mailbox, and he didn't get back up.
The pastor and his wife had lost their only child. I sent them a card, and I cried with every word I wrote on it.