Every morning immediately after his 5 am potty bre…

Posted: September 15, 2003 in Everything

Every morning immediately after his 5 am potty break, my dog, Ralph nestles himself against my left leg. Like clockwork, he warms himself under our covers and into my heart. I’ve never really liked dogs. I bought Ralph for my wife’s birthday last year–she is a lifelong dog lover. I figured that if I got her something she loved, her love for me would only increase.

Every day I see or realize something divine in living life with a pet. Each day I catch a glimpse of God through a 13-inch beagle. In many ways, Ralph has been the bearer of Good News in our home.

This morning as Ralph snored his day away, I was struck with the incredible trust he has in me. I am much larger and stronger than he is, but he has no fear that I might become malicious and hurt him. I make all the rules–some he likes (the 9 pm snack), some he’s not so crazy about (he can’t sleep in the bed at night), but he responds well to each of them. No barking, no pouting.

Ralph is a breathing toy. I tug his ears, play with his nose and make him chase his own tail. He never flinches. He knows I wasn’t created to hurt him.

I’ve had to do many things to Ralph that I wish I didn’t have to do. I’ve held him down while his vet performed the most invasive procedures. I’ve had to withhold meals on Dr.’s orders. I’ve had to bring him near strangulation when he once got too aggressive with my wife. In those moments, there is no way he can understand that what I’m doing isn’t meant to cause pain. It is meant to heal and protect.

Each time I return home, Ralph races to door, eyes shining and tail waging. He rockets off the floor like Sputnik, jumping to near head high just to say “hello.” He’s glad to have the company of those who care for him.

So this morning as he dreamed of chasing rabbits and treeing bunnies I was reminded about trust. I thought about the myriad times I have failed to trust God. I secretly believed He wasn’t there or didn’t care. Ralph reminds me that my assessment couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m mindful of God’s care for me during every trip to the vet’s office as I take care of my dog.

Ralph whispers to me that when my mind’s VCR replays scenes of suffering, God was there. He was there doing for my well-being the thing that had to be done. He was caring for me in situations when I could not care for myself.

Now surely, the question of suffering cannot be answered through the life of a short-haired dog (if it can be answered fully at all). But if a dog, who endured tremendous suffering before we adopted him, can learn to trust again, maybe I can too.

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