When A Name Changes Everything

I was pretty adamant we were not getting a dog. They were too much work. I had four kids. That was enough.

I was outvoted. Charlie came to live with us.

Sure, he’s cute. But he’s got some issues.


Charlie is super smart, but doesn’t socialize well with other dogs. At all.

He’s curious, but it can get him into trouble. A lot.

He’s full of love, but at times his demonstrations of love are overwhelming. And a little painful.

He’s loyal, but it manifests in his marking everything. Every. Thing.

I wasn’t planning on liking him to be honest. But somehow his personality grew on me. Slowly at first.

Maybe it was the first time he ran to hide under my chair because he’s scared of fireworks. Maybe it was the time Koby got the back of a hammer stuck in his leg and Charlie refused to leave him until help came. Maybe it was when I cried from a wasp sting, and Charlie tried to make me feel better. Whatever the reason, the critter found a place in my heart.


One September afternoon, the day before school started, we were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine when we noticed Charlie was not running and playing with the kids. He lay on the grass, but not even at our feet as he was prone to do. He looked awful. As the evening progressed, Charlie kept getting sicker. He couldn’t hold anything down and we were getting genuinely worried.

The following morning, I took the kids to school and Rob took Charlie to the vet. The news wasn’t good. Charlie had contracted parvo virus and they didn’t think he’d make it. They started him on antibiotics and gave him fluids but cautioned us that if he didn’t improve by the next morning, there was nothing else they could do.

The kids and I stopped in to see Charlie on our way home from school. We walked into the clinic and waited for someone to take us back to his kennel.

And that’s when I saw it. Looking from the waiting room into the clinic area I saw a whiteboard with the patient list. His name was on top in big bold letters. Charlie Bergen. The name changed everything.

I started to bawl. I had never thought of a dog as having a last name.  (Still don’t to be honest.) (Though when I am upset at him I call him Charles Dickens.)   But somehow, seeing our family name associated with him changed my feelings for him. In my mind, Charlie became fully ours. He belonged to us.

Suddenly, the fact that he was so sick and needing help just to survive felt like my responsibility. Though it seemed somewhat irrational to Rob, I felt strongly we needed to do everything in our power to save him. He carried our name and that meant something.

You see, historically, husbands have given their wives and children their last name as a symbol of intimacy and protection. It’s a sign to the world that these people are loved, cared for, and they belong. While this symbol has been distorted somewhat in our modern culture, I imagine if you are in as desperate a state as Charlie was that day, you’d give anything for one who has the power to protect and care for you to exercise that ability.

Friends, apart from Christ, we are no better off than Charlie was that day. We lie at death’s door, desperate for someone to intercede on our behalf. We need someone to put their name on us and declare we are loved, cared for, and that we belong.  We need someone to intervene on our behalf.  Jesus did just that. And in Revelation 3, he promises to those who overcome, that the world will see he loves us. He even says he will write his name on us.

A name changes everything.


(Charlie made a full recovery. I’m thankful. Really. The vet bill was ridiculous. How thankful I am that our Saviour has unlimited resources to go along with his infinite love.)

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