The Dog

The Dog

I have a dog I didn’t want.

The last dog I had died  seven years ago and that was a traumatic time.  There were tears and lumps in throats when it passed.  There were awkward silences and stares into the now empty yard and the hollow doghouse.  That was hard time.  Then two weeks ago another dog found its way into the yard.  I am not sure how.  Upon examining the dog even at a distance, it was obvious it was deaf, blind and toothless.  It stumbled as it walked, its eyes were milky with cataracts a little green puss was present in one of them. 

Did I mention that I didn’t want the dog?  It wouldn’t be much of a guard dog with its physical problems much less that it only stands a towing 10 inches off the ground.  It bumps into everything in the yard, an old tire sandbox, the dog house, the trees, and did I mention the sneezing and the howling perhaps becasue it has various pains.

My daughter first called me and told me about the dog on her way to work.  “Dad, there was a dog by my car when I went to work today, I think we need to do something with it,” she said in a voice mail.  “We” I thought.  Your at work the only we now is me.  I wasn’t looking for a dog and now I am getting pressure from my daughter to accept the dog or look like a mean, vicious, uncaring dad.

Did I mention I didn’t want the dog?  But I put it on a long leash in the yard where our previous dog ran. I didn’t want this dog to become a spot on the highway running in front of our house becasue it lacked a white cane with red tip.  I wouldn’t hear the end of it from my daughter, much less live with the guilt of sending a defenseless dog to its death.

So “we” fed it, “we” watered it, my daughter took it for walks where she reported it fell off the curb a number of times and ran into light posts when it could walk in a straight line.  For two weeks now it has been fed and watered and talked to, even though it can’t hear.  But a strange thing is happening.  It seems to be getting healthier.  It now jumps up and down like its on a trampoline when it senses its feeding time.  It either smells us coming out of the door or is beginning to see shadows and looks at us with those milky eyes hoping we will come near enough to pet it.  Its getting better, now what am I supposed to do?  Did I mention I didn’t want a dog?

As I reflected upon its appearance I begin to wonder about it.  This little dog would be considered a throw away, after all it seems someone already threw it away on the side of the road, at least that is what the shelters suggest happened.  I have called every dog rescue facility in the area, 5 in all and they won’t take the dog.  Its either too old, too, small, too sick.  There isn’t enough room at their shelter, they don’t take small dogs, its not from town so its not our responsibility, its in the country there is no place for it to go.  I could, after they finish moving for two weeks take it to the county dog pound.  But I know that they will put it down, “kill it” in five days or so.  It seems a little harsh, even though I don’t want a dog, did I say that, after all it is still breathing and eating the dog food we purchased for it, soft food becasue it has no teeth.  If I got rid of it now, I would be stuck with a week of dog food, so I will have to wait or so I tell my self 

But I am realizing that the real issue has to do more with the value of life, even this little dogs.  I am reluctant to take it to the dog pound becasue it would be as if I were sending it to an euthanasia chamber, and its only crimes are that it is old, blind deaf, toothless and landed in my yard.  Seems a little harsh, even though I don’t want the dog. 

And yet there is a bigger issue. What is the value of life, or any life.  Becasue it won’t keep the squirrels out of the yard, or guard the house from burglars or terrorists does it make it any less important.  There is rising in me an understanding that I, we, have a responsibility of taking care of the last and the least.  I am not the judge which life is of value and which life is not valuable.  It came into my sphere of care for some reason, I doubt it was to take it to the gas chamber, but to give it a place to live out its last days in a place it would be respected and cared for, even though I didn’t want a dog.  The value of life is more important than my convenience or comfort.  After all who is to say that someday I won’t be like the little dog, toothless, blind and deaf hoping for a place to exist.  Would I want someone to determine then which life is of more value than another?  What would be the criteria? (What did you say?  I couldn’t hear you or read your lips) Besides I don’t want to go down that slippery slope, its been traveled too often already with world wide disastrous results. 

I have also seen my daughter’s heart open and blossom around this little dog just as my youngest son cared for our previous dog.  I saw him, on the dogs last days scoop the feeble dog up in his arms so carefully and gently and give it a softer place on which to lay.  My daughter cares for this dog in a similar way.  It has also brought about meaningful discussions about what the dogs situation and what to do with it.  We are in no hurry for an “outcome.”  In an interesting way the dog has given my daughter and I an avenue in which to bond,  to understand each other and to see what is inside of our hearts.  I am moved by her caring, openness and compassion.  I can see he grace in action, as she reaches down to touch, and speak to the dog.  She even wants to give it a name, to make it more than just a stray, not just lost dog dumped on the side of the road.

It seems that “we” being taught by this little dog.  What the value of life might be, any life be it four legged, winged, crawling or human, those lost and least, those with little to offer the world, those blind, deaf and toothless or those who have expended what they had to give to others.  I am being called to share what I have, some food, a place in the yard, and a heart being filled by this little dog who is teaching me about sharing the grace of life that has been given to me.  A very interesting lesson with levels of depth that develop each day.

Did I mention I didn’t want the dog?  I think it was sent here, thanks be to God

danahouck1@gmail.com  Phone 507.339.0045