Tuesday, July 31, 2007
A Faithful Friend
In my profile I mention that we have an old beagle, almost ten to be exact. Buddy the beagle ( his name was already selected when we adopted him). Buddy came to us through a kind of winding chain of people who knew people. But the way we came to adopt Buddy is that when he was 4 he was rescued and his first humans were prosecuted for animal cruelty- he had never had any indoor shelter, nor had he ever had a doghouse. Imagine hot sun, raging storms, winter snow, and you are tied to a leash in the yard with nowhere to go. He ended up at the Humane League shelter and was adopted by different households, but the one we got him from was breaking up and no one could keep him. He has adenoid issues from all of the outdoor exposure and Lyme disease that is currently in remission. He used to have a really bad case of thunderphobia, but sadly now is going deaf. This photo is a couple of years old, but he looked so coy here, I decided it was the right shot.
You would think after all of that- lack of permanence, your humans are cruel to you- it would really leave a mark on your personality. Make you mean, vengeful, suspicious. On the contrary, Buddy is the most pleasant, even tempered and agreeable dog you could ever have ( minus some really bad breath). And he is absolutely devoted to me. When I come home, he is at the door, tail wagging so hard his rear end is wagging, and he howls to tell me all about his day and how much he missed me. He thinks he is a lapdog even though he weighs 40 pounds. A happy puppy is the one sleeping on Mom in the sunroom on Sunday afternoon while she reads the paper. Leftover lovingly distributed dog hairs in three colors are sure to be on every outfit so I can think about him when I am not at home. So what’s there not to love?
Unfortunately in the beagle world, perhaps even more than some other breeds, when you claim a loved one, you want to always make sure everyone else knows. Which in dog-speak means, stink up their stuff real good in your scent. One day I was cleaning out my closet and left a pile of shoes out when I went to run errands. Buddy marked the spot in the traditional leg-lift way. He thought he'd done real good.
If I leave my pj’s out on the floor or bed when I am in a hurry, they will be fluffed up and made into a pillow he lays on until I return.
Until recently I could not figure out the scratching of the carpet by my closet door and my dresser. Then one day on our walk, I saw him scratching to mark that he has been there. The light bulb of the epiphany moment flickered on. He is staking out his turf ( as if some other dog might be in the house). He is expressing devotion.
No matter how bad my day was. No matter that I yelled at him for digging in the trash can when I got home, when what he really wanted was a “I missed you, let me rub your belly.” No matter when my husband and I are late getting home and he has been waiting past when the humans should be here. No matter that we give him whiplash on the retractable leash every time he is just about to snatch that really good looking snack on the ground. He is still there, tail wagging and claiming me as his special person.
And in spite of a history of bad human behavior before he came to live with us, he has always had faith in humans to change. Although I suspect this is helped by a good food bowl.
In a lot less smelly canine way, God is like that. He claims us as His own. Even when we seem to reject Him. He still believes in us, even when He shouldn’t. He’s glad to see us even when we have been neglectful of our relationship. And those of us who are marked with the cross of Christ can never be permanently separated from Him – kind of like those little beagle hairs that just dig in and won’t let go.