Having a Dog to the Glory of God: Part 1

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According to the New York Times, Americans spent a total of $55 billion on their pets in 2010.  That is a whole lot of money (for lack of a better remark).  Having a pet, particularly a dog or a cat (depending on what “type of person you are”) is pretty much a given in the American ideal of what a family should look like.  Move into a place of your own? Get married? Have a big backyard?  The next step is to get a pet (if you can afford it).  It’s almost a milestone of settlement, of “marking your territory” in this world, if I may.

My wife Sarah and I recently went through this.  We had been married for several months before she had began dropping hints about wanting a puppy.  Sometimes it was a hint, and sometimes it was actual pleading: “But wouldn’t it be cute and cuddly and lovable and sweet?  I could run with it and take a nap with it.  PLEEEEASE???”  I would reply, “You know we can’t, because [insert excuse],” in a stern, wannabe-manly way.

You see, I grew up with dogs.  In fact, dogs lived in such close quarters with my family from before I was born (and still do), you could almost say that I was, in part, raised by our dogs (as weird as that sounds).  She was tugging on my childhood heart strings, so I secretly began to look at different types of dogs, as to avoid commitment but at the same time toy with our options, and to potentially surprise her with a puppy.  However, I still had several reservations:

  • Dogs are expensive; Aren’t there better ways to spend our money?  What about the price of food or veterinarian visits? Can’t this go to missions or to the church or to helping the poor?
  • Dogs are a lot of work; Are we willing/able to put in the amount of effort it takes to raise a dog?
  • Dogs hold you back; We won’t be able to travel as freely with a dog. What about mission trips? We will have to board him whenever we go on a trip, or find a dog-sitter.
  • Dogs are messy; Are we willing to risk our books and furniture getting chewed/peed on?  Or shedding hair all over the couch?
  • Dogs are quirky; What if the dog is just a weirdo that barks a lot at nothing in the middle of the night?
  • Dogs need room; Do we have enough room to give him/her a good life?
  • Dogs are alive; Are we willing to protect a life from cars and strangers and other dangers? Will I be able to give the dog a good life? Will he be healthy, not overweight, not spoiled?
  • Dogs require patience; Do I have that kind of patience?
  • Dogs need attention; What about the time that we spend together?  I had been around dogs enough to know that they integrate themselves with people’s lives.  Are we willing to share our time with a dog?

This non-exhaustive list of concerns can be summed up with this question:  How can we honor our Creator while owning a non-human creature?  Long story short, we finally decided to go for it and got Scout, a six-week-old Brittany pup.

This series of posts comes from our own personal reflections on life with Scout.  How do we honor God in a world that either worships animals, abuses them, or abuses them by worshiping them?  What are we learning from having a creature that is so different, yet so similar, living under our roof (or ROOOF!)?  What does God teach in the Bible about non-human creatures?  What can we learn from them?  What does owning Scout mean when God owns everything?  What is the balance between dog as servant and dog as companion?  What does a redemptive relationship between humans and animals look like?  They’re big questions, but, I mean, look at that face to the right… They’re worth answering.


Written by keywoodblog

February 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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