Just a Dog (Not a Dog Spelled Backwards)

Mar 5, 2018

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT

Georgia is a dog.

Georgia is my new dog. She’s as sweet as a Georgia peach in June and already loves me, but I’m pretty sure it’s because I feed her, pet her and take her for walks. In other words, she’s just a dog. She’s not my child, so please don’t call me her parent. Her parents are two dogs of an undetermined, un-designer mix, which I shouldn’t have to explain.

I’ve noticed a trend in several areas of our culture where we are shifting our natural affections for weird ones, hence the crop of doggy shops that are abounding. Don’t tell me we are in a recession if stores like Bloomingtails or Posh Puppy Boutique prosper. Women at work whip out their phones to show pictures of their “grand-dogs.” This new obsession has been tagged “replacement – syndrome,” a mostly millennial craze which grossed 4 billion last year on such pet essentials as strollers and pet-slings. One article I read showed a young man licking his cat with a rubber tongue.

I am not without compassion. We yearn for what we feel we should have but don’t. Ever since I put down my sweet Rosie two years ago I have been perusing the internet for a new friend, “one with four feet” as my son Jake announced when he was five and tired of burying goldfish. It seems like a simple prerequisite but I soon learned that the world of dog ownership has morphed into an exclusive culture. Even if you can afford $2000 for a purebred, you may not be worthy of one.

I began to wonder if I was a good enough human to adopt a mutt. One turned me away scornfully when I told them, yes, I did have to work. Finally I found Georgia, named after her birthplace. I was sweating the adoption a little because I don’t let my pets on the furniture to “snuggle” – I don’t care if it is their forever home, they will be forever on the floor. And if they need a bath there’s the garden hose, although they get the senior fluff and puff at Petsmart should they live that long. But the southern rescue that released her to me didn’t sound like they cared about that. Different culture. I doubt they have a Bloomingtails.

Longing. Barren women fasten upon a pregnant mother or a newborn cry. Yearning for approval is soothed by a bunch of letters after a name or the accouterments of a fat paycheck. The bottle of wine brings a reliable comfort, so does the little pill for “my anxiety,” as my patients refer to it. Or maybe it’s the boy/girlfriend that really, really loves you…for now. C.S. Lewis wrote:

“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

Solomon wisely noted that eternity is planted in each human heart. We instinctively long for what we can’t see. So we fashion a substitute, a golden calf. We lose hope, or just patience. The gifts which God delights in giving to His children become objects of worship or even worse, discarded as cheap arcade tokens. We want more, bigger, shinier and a short cut to get it. The longing becomes bondage.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:9

            His riches in glory. Eternal life. Heaven. If you are a Christian, then you know this is not our home. We are sojourners, so we travel light and hold everything loosely, especially pets. I have learned that even the things we think are secure may not be. Anyone who has picked out their child’s casket will agree. We know there is more than this, but we can learn to love the gifts He has placed within our reach today. And be grateful.

If you are not a Christian, then think about the longing. God put that there. You are really longing to know Him, the one who tenderly formed you. That’s exactly why Jesus came.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[a]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:14

I found this on Amazon while I was looking for a ball for Georgia that she couldn’t eat:

Furbo Dog Camera: Treat Tossing, Full HD Wifi Pet Camera and 2-Way Audio, Designed for Dogs, Works with Amazon Alexa (As Seen On Ellen)

For $249, you can watch your dog on your smartphone while you’re busy at work, which you need to do a lot of because you spent $2500 for the dog and it costs another $150 a week just to keep her in doggy daycare, then there’s the toys, the accessories and the pet insurance. Furbo even spits out treats for Fido, and it has a 2-way chat and bark alert. I’m hoping it’s really a one-way chat and one-way bark. Be real. Almost 2000 people have given it four stars and it works with Alexa.

I’m glad I have a new dog. I love my dogs and I have even suggested getting a dog to people who are profoundly grieved. They are simple and loyal creatures, an oasis of comfort when the rest of the world seems too harsh and complex. I marvel daily at God’s glorious creation, from dogs to daffodils, which are pushing through the cold dirt right now. As I look around me, I am blessed. But this is not home; the best is yet to come.

So do not be dismayed! If you have a Furbo and a Designer Dog but still feel like something’s missing, you’re right! Jesus is saying, Hey, this way! Once you know the Creator, then all of creation makes perfect sense. And you can freely love those around you, even your pets.

            “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – Jesus

Thanks Jesus, for a new dog, for making the journey through this life a little sweeter. You think of everything.