We got our dog Cana from a rescue kennel, referred by Dr. Bolynn – before she was Dr. Bolynn – as she was still in vet school. When we first saw the puppy’s picture, to be honest she was a bit – let’s say unattractive – but we trusted the recommendation that she would be a good fit for us. Not too big, so we could afford to feed her. Not too small, so our four boys wouldn’t trample her to death. Gentle and sweet, loving and somewhat tolerant…

So we brought her home. And she was the sweetest dog – loving and gentle – and just tolerant enough. But she never made a sound. She never barked once. She didn’t play with toys, either. She just laid her head on a chair or a knee and waited to be talked to or petted.

Our boys fell in love with her. Everybody did.

We named her Cana, a nod to the Lebanese town we had visited not long before, and a nod to Jesus’ first miracle. After all, the boys said. It was a miracle that we got her.

She was about a year old when she came to us, and only chewed a tiny bit, although when she did, she made sure it was something really expensive. Once it was Nicolas’ glasses, once it was a higher end remote control. She had only a couple of potty training accidents.

And did I mention she didn’t bark at all?

The interesting thing to me is that within six months, she had lost the aforementioned “unattractiveness”. I thought maybe it was because we brushed off a very bushy winter coat. Or maybe she had just come to us with doggy-adolescent gawkiness. But our son Asher set me straight. “She’s prettier because we love her.”

She didn’t bark for about a year. But one day, she saw something that made her go ‘woof!’ Nicolas saw her, and said it scared her to death! Now she’s a great watchdog – unless you actually come into the house. If we’re home, she’ll roll over for you to scratch her belly. If we’re not home, she runs upstairs and hides. We don’t much mind, though. That’s why doors have locks – right?

Seriously, Cana is just a great dog. I could go on and on about her receptive vocabulary, her understanding (and avoidance) of visitors who are afraid of dogs, her hysterical teasing of visitors who aren’t afraid of dogs but really don’t like them, her continued disdain for toys, her audible grumble when we make her do something she doesn’t want to. But the thing she does that sparks the most conversation happens at dinnertime.

Nicolas does not allow Cana into the kitchen while we eat. Any other time is fine, but if we’re at the table, she can’t come in. She obeys – sort of. She sits at the threshold, crosses her paws like a lady, and puts just the paws into the kitchen. Obeying on her terms.

When you have young kids, you often get them a dog to teach them responsibility. But our Cana has taught all of us so much more. She’s taught us that happiness comes from simple companionship – you don’t need stuff to have fun. She’s shown that approaching strangers with caution is okay – as long as you’re friendly once you meet. She’s made us take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we’re really obeying – or just gaming the system. She’s shown us that miracles still happen.

But most of all, she’s shown us how love creates beauty.

Cana, here’s to you girl. And here’s to Dr. Bolynn for bringing you into our lives, and taking great care of you so you’ll be with us for a long time.