Isn’t it funny how people love dogs? Man’s best friend and all that. If you think about, the love for an animal is something decidedly odd. Dogs are rather nasty. They lick themselves in places I’d rather not mention, they eat strange things they find off the floor, and their way of showing affection is to salivate all over your face. Many’s the time I’ve had to wipe an obscuring fog of canine slobber from the lenses of my glasses. If it were a person, even any of my closest friends, who decided to drool on me in such an appalling fashion, I’m sorry but I would have no option but to haul off and punch you in the nose. And yet I laugh at dogs (unless, of course, their slobbery affection comes too close to my mouth). Countless times I’ve been knocked unceremoniously to the floor by an overly exuberant mongrel. I’ve even been sat upon by a ninety-five-pound Rottweiler. And yet I can still tolerate those socially unacceptable beasts.
And I say to myself, “Why?” And I ask myself, “Wherefore?”
And I answer myself…
It’s all completely, one hundred per cent the goodness of God. Dogs, as Ben Franklin so famously put it, are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. (Or something like that…) He loves us, and so He instilled in us an irrational affection for shockingly improper beasts whose distasteful behavior would be more than enough cause for banishment were it present in a human. He planted something in our brains that causes us to think a four-legged, hairy creature with a long pointed snout and a cold wet nose is beautiful.
What is it, exactly, that’s wonderful about dogs? Looking at it from a purely logical point of view, absolutely nothing. Cold, emotionless analysis proves that animals really have nothing to offer in the position of pet. Pets really don’t do much good except make you happy. They eat all your food. They defile your carpets in unmentionable ways. They sit on your books when you don’t give them enough attention. They are constantly underfoot.
My dog has a habit of sitting motionless at my feet when I am cooking. From time to time she will dig her claws into my leg and drag her paw slowly down until I give her a scrap of chicken. This maneuver causes great pain. Why on earth would this supremely obnoxious animal be one of my favorite things in the whole world? Why do I love her so? I’ll tell you why I love her: it’s a present from God.
We often count our blessings, but we rarely realize what a gift it is to be able to enjoy them. We are thankful for beauty, but how often do we sing songs of praise because we are able to appreciate it in the first place? We are grateful for what we have, but very seldom for who we are. There are those, you know, who can’t appreciate the pretty things or the funny things of life. They possess the same external blessings as you or I, sometimes to a greater degree, but it is all worth nothing to them, for they cannot enjoy it. There is a name for these people: depressed. We have so little power in this world to change our surroundings or circumstances, but we do have an amount of control over the way we receive it all. (Note: It is entirely by the grace of God that we are able to enjoy things and be happy, but I do think we have some responsibility for our attitudes…. I am quite sure that I will never be able to understand the sovereignty of God and the will of man.)
Children are masters of this. The simplest thing can delight a small one; stomping in a puddle after a summer rain, rolling down a hill, wrestling with a puppy, feeding the ducks with scraps of bread. It all summons that silly grin, that childishly joyful laughter. They unquestioningly receive the smallest blessing and don’t think to ask for something bigger or costlier. That is the magic of childhood, and I hope I never outgrow it. It may be juvenile, but I want to laugh forever at the silly little blessings that really don’t mean anything to an adult. I want to keep my infantile dreams and make new ones. I want to be able to giggle and dance. I want to be forever grateful to the God who gives me everything!
Now if you’ll excuse me, Bess wants a piece of chicken….