Friday, July 17, 2009

Dog Lessons

I have a serious love/hate relationship with our two Chihuahuas.
We bought Hobbes for Jessie as a Christmas present the year Jordan died and Jacob went off to college. She needed the company of something living and breathing, but I didn’t want to do it.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I am simply hard-hearted, you have to know that we had pretty much worked our way through an entire menagerie: fish, gerbils, hamsters, hedgehogs, rabbits, miniature pinchers, bull dogs, alley cats and Bengal cats.
I was done with a capital D. Or so I thought.
Jessie had her heart set on a tea-cup Chihuahua. I wasn’t about to give in. No way. But every time I prayed about what to get her for Christmas the Lord would say, “Get her the dog.”
Of course I soundly and loudly rebuked the devil nine times over and had a foot-stompin’ fit every time the thought entered my mind.
Why, it was ridiculous! Not only would she be leaving for college the next year, but I was DONE with animals, remember? I was not about to have her dog responsibilities become my dog responsibilities!
Still, every single time I prayed about what to do for Jessie for that awful Christmas the Lord would say, “Get her the dog.”
I finally gave in and shouted, “Fine! I’ll get her the damn dog!”
And so the search began. She wanted a fawn colored dog, but the minute we walked into the vet’s office in Chandler, Oklahoma, and I saw his teeny little one pound white self with black ears and two “wing” shaped spots on his upper back, I knew he was ours.
We left him with the vet until the day before Christmas, drove to Chandler to pick him up and I slept (or didn’t sleep) with his tiny, shivering body tucked in beside me in the bed. We put him in a box with the lid folded over, stuck a bow on top and walked down the hall to the living room so Jessie could “open” her present.
She squealed with delight, of course, and for a fleeting moment I felt like we had done the good and noble and right thing.
Then he refused to be house broken.
He ruined every carpet in the house.
And he chewed his way through countless pairs of jeans and underwear and shoes and…well…other things…
I hated him! But then he’d jump in my lap, wag his skinny tail, and look up at me like no human being ever has and I’d turn to pulp.
We bought Callie right before I left to spend a month in Thailand.
I knew enough about dogs to know they are pack animals and I didn’t want to leave Hobbes all day, every day, for a month and have to come home and put him on Prosac.
So the second great dog search began.
Of course if Jay was going to lay out any kind of money, he wanted to see a return on it, so we were looking for a female with the intent of providing the world with more Chihuahuas. You can thank me later.
Jay saw an ad a few days before I was scheduled to leave and we drove out to the doggie farm. They had two females, one black and white like Hobbes, who promptly started hissing at him like a menopausal cat, and a tiny fawn colored one who was scared to death of her own shadow.
“That’s just her ‘submissive’ posture” the woman who took our money told us.
It sounded reasonable. And besides, what the heck did we know about dog’s temperaments?
So we bought the darn thing at a discount and learned why she was such a bargain later. Her “submissive” posture is her constant posture.
She won’t come to anyone except me and only then when I am sitting or laying down. Three years later, she’s still the most skittish dog you have ever seen in your life. But you know what? I lover her! And so does Hobbes!
They romp and chase and play together so beautifully it makes me laugh out loud! They groom each other, sleep curled up together and look over one another like they are playing out Song of Solomon. It’s the sweetest thing I have ever seen!
When Callie can’t be found, Hobbes whines around the house like a rejected lover. It’s pitiful and I feel obligated to stop everything I am doing, find where she might be and relieve his distress.
So….imagine my distress when they both went missing for most of the day during the hottest part of the day!
It’s 104 degrees in the shade around here and they are wearing fur coats.
I jumped in my car and drove slowly around the neighborhood so many times I’m positive everyone thought I was casing their houses.
There was absolutely no sign anywhere of the little darlings and I started to get really upset (even while realizing I could take down all the kiddie-gates I had put up to keep them from peeing in various rooms in the house).
I knew they didn’t understand about 31st street and how busy it is or about cars. And they had no understanding of leash laws or the dog catcher, and I knew they would be terrified if they were picked up and taken to the pound and I wouldn’t be there to pat and comfort them and bring them home.
I worried that they wouldn’t be able to find their way back to the house and that they were probably hot and tired and thirsty and miserable and there was nothing I could do about it as long as they were away from me.
And then I realized just how much it paralleled our situation with God.
He has given us a lovely “fenced yard” to play in with everything in it that we need and has promised to meet every need we have. But there are parameters we are asked to comply with for our own good. There are things about our design we might not have complete understanding about so we need to simply take God’s word about how He tells us to live and operate. And there are forces in the universe that are too strong for us to withstand if we get hit by them, that God wants to protect us from.
But in our ignorance and rebellion and foolishness, we wander outside those boundaries and no matter how much power and provision and protection is available to us from our heavenly Father within them, we will not be able to partake of any of it if we aren’t where we should be.
Fortunately God is more than a pet owner and He can find and heal and restore us so that we are able to see the benefits of the yard and learn that it’s better not to wander off. He instructs us and reminds us that being next to Him and depending on Him is the greatest, safest place we can be.
Now if I could just get Hobbes and Callie to understand the same thing about us!