Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Top Dog

    Even though Little One certainly reigns our world as "top dog," we have received and returned the affections of some fine furry friends through the years. I have searched the scripture, and as far as I can tell, the Word of God is unclear as to whether our pets will one day join us in heaven. Interestingly enough, by far I am not the only one who has pondered this dilemma for I found the concept of the redemption of animals worthy enough for the likes of C.S. Lewis among others. I don't know whether my reasoning is exegetically correct, but I think that a God who said that he would use the very stones to cry out the name of Jesus, would give more dispensation to pets than stones. I also trust the vision promulgated in Isaiah 11 where the wolf and the lamb lie down together. Sounds to me like heaven just might be the most gloriously redeemed zoo (no bars or cages for sure) known to mankind.
    Needless to say, whether or not our dogs make it into glory, I will testify here on earth that they have brought us joy and delight through the years. It all began with Jose, a mixed breed puppy that my husband and I took home from the pound nearly thirty-four years ago. From Jose we moved to adopt Trouble, another mixed breed aptly named because we had to take him to the pet emergency hospital ($$$$) after he broke his leg on the very first day of his adoption. After Trouble came a succession of Black Labrador Retrievers (all of them male). Also around this time, we made our foray into the cat world with the adoption of none other than Rocky Balboa. Somewhere along the line we began to allow our children to select the name for the pet, an honor that was uniformly rotated from one child to the next. I make this point specifically because it was our daughter's turn to name the animal when the cat came onto the scene. After much deliberation she announced her choice for a name in the family meeting: Queen Esther. Her father looked aghast. He quickly moved to exercise his parental authority and veto the name by saying, "I simply cannot go to the back door and holler for Queen Esther on a regular basis." My daughter, after significant bribery accompanied by theatrical pleading by her brothers, agreed to allow the next-in-line to name the cat and thus a female tabby named Rocky Balboa came to live in our home.
      The Daughter did indeed have the choice of naming the next animal: a Black Lab upon whom she bestowed the name of Luke. When Luke died, we took another Black Lab into our hearts: Bo Jackson (yep, you guessed of the boys picked the name.) Bo made the move with us to the house we live in today. When we sent him to live on a farm after aggressive behavior toward a neighbor, we switched breeds and adopted our beloved LuLu, a Golden Retriever.
    LuLu was the dog of dogs and every member of our family had tears to shed when we were forced to put her down after 13 years of mutual adoration. We are convinced that a finer dog has yet to be found. She was loyal, gentle, and loving to a fault. She never met a stranger and endeared herself to the neighborhood at large. She had treats waiting at many a back door and regularly accompanied one neighbor on his early morning runs.We even had a family call to see if they could be allowed to formally adopt her and simply "share" her with us. We said no.

   When Lou Lou was still in her prime and our house almost empty of children, we took in a Border Collie by the name of Sarah. She was the smartest dog I have ever been around (Sorry had the heart, but not always the brains). She was intuitive, perceptive and absolutely and utterly terrified of thunderstorms. After LuLu began to age, Sarah's energy level began to get the best of all of us so we placed her with a family who was familiar with the special needs of Border collies. LuLu grieved the loss as terribly as did I. Together we contrived to get my husband to give me a puppy for my birthday
Phoebe MacKenzie, a West Highland Terrier, came into our lives four years ago.LuLu was utterly convinced that she, an aging Golden Retriever, had given birth to this puppy and she watched over tiny Phoebe like a mother hen. But in typical terrier fashion,Phoebe quickly established herself as the Alpha dog in our household yet she always treated the Grande Dame LuLu with the utmost and well-deserved respect.. 
   The day after we put our beloved LuLu down, I answered an ad placed by a woman seeking to place a Cavalier in the right home. The owner was dying of cancer and needed to find homes for her menagerie of pets before things got worse. Despite the fact that 96 people responded to her ad, we were
somehow selected to give Wilson a home. So once again our personal menagerie is complete (and I hope stable for a time). My husband and I love our dogs. We are no longer cat people but certainly understand people who are. Our pets are important to us even though we realize that they are not real children, but furry substitutes who don't talk back or require the payment of college tuition. And in the end, they are not people, they are simply dogs.
    However, you can rest assured, when we get to heaven, the Husband and I will be whistling and hoping that a troop of beloved pets come running at the sound of our call with LuLu leading the way!

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