“He sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”
Matthew 5: 45.
Let’s get something straight from the outset: My pup’s name is Rainey with an “E” not just a “Y” like the weather. Admittedly, my first two Brittanys were Sunny (Upland Autumn Sunshine) and Misty (Misty Morning Sunrise) after certain aspects of the weather, but Topperlyn Rainey Creek Ruff was named after a beloved cutthroat stream in Eastern Idaho and my favorite gamebird. Despite my intention to break from the weather theme, I wasn’t sure that the heavens got my memo last weekend when we went to pick up my puppy.
Since she was born on April 13th, my family has eagerly waited for Rainey to come home. Quite frankly, it felt like the longest eight weeks of my life. So, when the day finally arrived to head north to Montana—a state that I truly love for its beauty and wonderful fishing—like the hymn, there was a little sunshine in my soul.
Early Friday afternoon, my wife, Kristin, and four of our kids headed north from Idaho Falls through Salmon, Idaho, over the continental divide into Montana. In Idaho, the weather was beautiful, and we traveled through some of the prettiest country imaginable with Ponderosa pines down by the Salmon River and Douglas Firs at higher elevations near the continental divide. The white puffy bear grass was in full bloom at high altitudes.
As we descended into the Bitterroot Valley we headed into a huge rain storm with black thunder clouds overhead. The weather put a damper on our spirits and Kristin and I questioned our decision to camp. Near Hamilton we drove to one campground, but found that every campsite was filled.
After Kristin rejected my suggestion that we rent a room, I then stated, “Let’s just drive all the way to Stevensville and see if we can get ahead of this dang storm.”
Near Stevensville, we found a campground named Bass Creek (which is funny because it is a boulder-strewn mountain stream and I’m sure there’s not a single bass throughout its length). The campground looked nice and was not full, but the rain continued to pour down. Honestly, I was not looking forward to putting up a tent in the rain.
“You think it’s raining because we are picking up Rainey?” I joked.
Before putting up our tent, I suggested that we say a prayer, The family agreed and I prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, we are thankful to be in this beautiful country to pick up our puppy. We really don’t want to get wet tonight. We ask thee to bless that we can get our tent set up, that the rain will stop and that we can stay dry and warm tonight. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
After we finished, I donned a raincoat and Kristin and I went to work. While the rain steadily came down as we set up the tent, as soon as we raised the last pole, the rain stopped. We only had a few sprinkles here and there the rest of the night and we stayed dry and warm. It was a direct answer to prayer.
The following morning, we could not go to Topperlyn Kennels until 10:00 a.m., so we drove around Stevensville, Montana to get a feel for the place. The sun was shining through the broken clouds. We found this really beautiful park near the Bitterroot River and we hiked a path that followed the river, which was swollen from runoff and rain. The sun was shining brightly.
Along the way, we saw a handful of valley quail, which are not native to Montana, but have done well in this river valley after their mysterious introduction. Because of the biblical miracles, I have always considered quail as a good omen and found it interesting that we found some without the help of any dogs. The hour passed quickly and soon it was time to head up to Topperlyn Kennels.
As we approached the top of the sage-covered hill upon which the kennels are located, Lynda walked out to greet us with Rainey in her arms. Kristin and I got out of the car and introduced ourselves. Lynda gave us both hugs. We asked if it was okay for the kids to come out and see Rainey and the other dogs. Lynda replied, “Of course!” She even let Rainey’s siblings out of the fenced enclosure so my family could enjoy the fun puppy pile. While all of the pups were beautiful and fun, I felt sure that Rainey was the one. I was so impressed with Lynda, her kennels, and all of her beautiful Epagneul Bretons.
After parting ways, we drove home through Missoula to the interstate and the family enjoyed holding, petting and getting to know Rainey. We were all smitten. And the fact that we were passing through the very country Norman Maclean wrote about in A River Runs Through It didn’t hurt either. More than once, I thought about Paul Maclean’s quote in the movie: “Oh, I’ll never leave Montana, brother.” Taking home Rainey felt like we were taking home a little piece of Montana.
So, what of the weather the night before? Admittedly, I am usually not a fan of the rain, especially when camping, hunting or fishing. Notwithstanding the negativity that I associate with rain, there is also a spiritual symbolism to rain that shouldn’t be ignored. You see, as evidenced throughout scripture, rain has always been associated with blessings from heaven.
Shortly after Misty passed away, on a particularly difficult day, I opened the scriptures hoping to find some peace. As I thumbed through the Old Testament, I happened upon the following verses in Job 5: 7-11:
7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number:
10 Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:
11 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.
At this low point in my life, I found solace from this scripture, though I did not fully comprehend its meaning for me.
After this experience and bringing Rainey home, however, I firmly believe that the rain was simply a symbolic prelude to beautiful blessings that will flow into my life with this wonderful pup. I guess a little rain is not so bad after all.