I’ll do push-ups. I’ll do sit-ups. I’m not afraid of pain. I’ve done the natural childbirth thing, and I’ve scrubbed poop off of walls. I consider myself a fairly tough cookie. However, even I have my limits.

Eight years ago when my husband jumped up and down like a four-year-old while I was trying to take a shower in peace, he pleaded for me to call my student. I had made the mistake of mentioning earlier that morning that this particular student had a litter of puppies he was trying to give away. They were Jack Russell/Rat Terrier mixes and darned cute. And really, that’s about all there is to say as to how we got our dog Scout.

I didn’t do much (okay, any) research before getting our puppy, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for training her. However, for as unqualified as an instructor as I was, I was even less prepared for how Scout would bring Animal Planet to my planet . And thanks to Scout, I learned exactly where I reach my toughness limit.

I can sweep a mammoth spider out the door without killing it, and I can quietly crouch and hide waiting for a baby chipmunk to follow the path of nuts back to his wild kingdom. But if Scout brings a dead field mouse into my home, I will become the most useless human being in existence. I will cry, ashamed at my failed efforts and inability to move this mouse four feet out the door. Each time I feel the body bend underneath the dustpan or rubber gloves I use, my fear will paralyze my limbs and my good sense. I will allow it to sit on the same spot of carpet all day until my husband gets home.

If Scout has a fight with a snake on our back patio before the horrified eyes of my three children and myself, I will not be able to close the blinds in time or control the giant shiver running down my spine. I will stand in disgust as she shakes her head, flinging that snake back and forth, up and down until the snake finally snaps into two pieces. And I will leave it on the patio and ban the rest of us from outside until my husband gets home.

And if Scout picks a fight with a family of birds while the kids and I are playing an innocent game of baseball, I will yell at her from a distance, wanting her to stop but afraid to have a cameo role on this particular episode on Animal Planet. I will stand in horror as I hear the family of birds yelling at Scout to leave their brother alone, and I will never forget the sound a bird makes when it tries to scream, caught in the jaws of the ferocious canine. We will make our journey to pay homage to this fallen creature and listen to the warning cries of its family telling others to stay away, and then we will walk back to our baseball game. And the bird will lay on the same spot of grass where its blood was spilled until my husband gets home.

I don’t know why I cannot dispose of dead animals, but I cannot. My shame as a mother is as great as Scout’s pride as she brings her kill to my feet, her face stretched in her happy doggy smile. And so, this week I am thankful for a husband who doesn’t ask questions or chastise his wife for her failure. Instead, he finds the bird lying in the grass that was waiting for him to come home so it can rest in peace.

This week I am also thankful for a water leak that was the county’s fault, and therefore not our responsibility, a state tax refund that finally appeared, and a good Samaritan who helped my husband when his jack broke changing his blown-out tire on the side of the road. Join the conversation-for what are you thankful this week?

Originally published at https://jennifervdavis.com on July 9, 2010.

Wife and mother of four; Former Children’s Ministry Director, 12Stone Church. Current High School English Teacher.