Sometimes God sends us gifts disguised as problems. A few months after living in our car and finally getting a roof back over our head, I gave in to my son’s cry for a dog. Not just any dog, a border collie. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the breed, they require constant interaction and must stay busy with jobs/duties or attention from the owner.

Ricky told his mother and me that a man had a litter of full-blooded border collies for $50 each. Some were brown and white, and a few were black and white. We scraped up $50 in loose change and one-dollar bills, hesitantly gave it to him, with one instruction to follow. Do not bring back a black and white dog, please make sure you get the brown and white border collie.

Ricky pulled up a few hours later with a black and white border collie that he had named Henrietta. She was the runt of the litter. By the time my son arrived to pick up our brown and white dog, there was only one left, and that was Henrietta.

We didn’t need a dog, because we were barely able to take care of ourselves. We sacrificed our own needs to make sure that Henri was fed, cared for, and loved just like the rest of our family. She turns 9 today and at some point during the nine years she’s been with us, she became part of our family.

I knew we didn’t need a dog. Tina knew we didn’t need a dog. Every person that knew we had been sleeping in our car a few months before made it clear. We didn’t need a dog!

There was, however, one problem. God knew we needed a Henrietta. She’s not our dog, she’s our family and quite possibly has held us together during the most difficult times of our lives. We will never forget that.

Happy birthday, sweet Henri!

Rick Stanfield is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker and author. His latest book is “I Can and I Will.” For more information, visit his website at