One would think that with a house full of kids, there would be little need for canine companionship. It is not like we don’t have enough to do and care for already. We provide 168 weekly meals, clean 100 loads of laundry each month, conduct school work, supervise and administer house chores, accommodate ballet lessons, sports practice, church activities, routine discipline, birthdays, lawn care, bedtime stories and prayers. Who would notice we didn’t have a dog? No one would, except my 5-year-old daughter, Sophia.

Sophia loves puppies. She has a fond appreciation for four-legged, tail-wagging, slobber-kissing pups. If it barks and loves bones, it has a place in her heart. Dolls are OK, but when it comes to toys, dogs are tops with Sophia. On more than one occasion, she has been found surrounded by her furry friends engaged in imaginary conversation.

For her, the only thing better than a pretend dog is a real dog. We tried to satisfy her passion by babysitting dogs of family and friends. We did all we could to keep from adding another name to our family’s roster. But the sad farewells, between canine and kid, were becoming unbearable. Set on having a dog of her own, Sophia’s puppy-dog eyes were softening her daddy’s heart.

And then it happened. A friend had a cute, cuddly black Labrador Retriever puppy for sale at an incredible price. The bloodline was royal, the disposition perfect, and the dog could even be trained to hunt! Like a catfish on chicken liver, I was hooked. Unbelievably, my wife put up little resistance to the idea. The dog, Delilah, was ours. Christmas would come early for Sophia this year.

It was dark by the time we made it home with the surprise. I rang the doorbell and left Delilah on the front porch in a Santa suit and a big red bow on her head. Sophia opened the door to find the puppy of her dreams. As I peeked around the corner of the house she exclaimed, “Daddy, are we babysitting?” “Not this time,” I said. “This puppy is yours!”

She dropped to her knees and greeted our new family member with a huge hug and a kiss. They were instant friends. The joy on her face and the excitement in her eyes confirmed that we had made the right decision. The long hugs, hard kisses and words of gratitude that followed reminded me of Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

Giving a Christmas puppy brought great joy to my heart. I can only imagine the joy the Heavenly Father felt the night He presented the world a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes. His gift was the most perfect Christmas gift of all, salvation through His Son.