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Heavenly Humor for the Dog Lover's Soul
15 Drool-Filled Devotional Readings from Fellow Dog Devotees
By Dee Aspin, Katherine Douglas, Shelley Lee, Donna K. Maltese, Chuck Miller, Marilee Parrish, Rachel Quillin, Paula Swan
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
SINK YOUR TEETH DEEP: GOD'S WORD
I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
Vending Machine or Banquet?
I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth !
PSALM 119:102–103 NIV
Jot came into our lives two years ago. As first-time pet owners, my husband and I had many questions about the behavior of this nine-pound, nine-year-old rescued rat terrier. Why did she eat grass? What compelled her to paw her bedding into a heap? How could she bypass every dime-store drawing pencil on my desk and only bury in the garden the expensive imported pastels?
The most puzzling thing of all was her attitude toward food. The vet assured us that dogs often go twenty-four hours or more without eating after being re-homed, but Jot's appetite didn't improve over the first two weeks. We tried mixing the kibble with water, baby food, wet dog food, and chicken broth. We even heated the food in the microwave to bring out its aroma. Jot ate a few bites of each meal and then walked away. The vet told us not to worry. He determined that Jot had a decreased sense of smell as a normal result of aging, which accounted for her loss of interest in food.
A few days after the diagnosis, we returned from a night out to find a line of paper confetti on the floor. We followed the trail from the front entryway to the bedroom where it culminated in a mound of shredded personal documents that had been tipped from their container. Atop the makeshift haystack sat Jot, contentedly licking a discarded Slim Jim wrapper that had been at the very bottom of the pile.
Since then we've had plenty of evidence that Jot's olfactory function is unimpaired. She grumbles at my pant legs when I come home from the local animal shelter where I've been in contact with cats. She's sniffed out the family of raccoons under the garden shed, the oily spot where a friend dropped a hamburger from the grill, and a box of chocolates under the Christmas tree. Jot doesn't lack ability, but she does need a strong motivation to act.
So do I. I know that the Bible is full of nourishment, but it takes some doing to make me eat. I'll study carefully for Sunday school— if I'm teaching it. There's no problem spending an hour probing the scriptures for a certain verse—if I want to use it in a greeting card. I'll certainly memorize a scripture passage—if I know I'll be called upon to recite it. This habit of scriptural snacking has often kept me from being truly full of God's Word.
Psalm 119:103 describes the Word of God as being "sweeter than honey." Paul urged believers to move from spiritual milk to the more strengthening meat of the Word (see Hebrews 5:12–6:1). In Matthew 4:4 Jesus says, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (NIV). The Bible is not a vending machine—it is a banquet. It's time to put away the change purse and pull up a chair.
The Buck Stops Here
Donna K. Maltese
"Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."
JOHN 6:57–58 NIV
Several years ago we had a German-shepherd mixed mutt. We'd gotten him as a puppy and named him after the tag on his cage at the pound—Buckingham Stray.
We have a big backyard but no fence, so we put up a running line for Buck who loved being outside. And although he was glad for a home, he took whatever opportunity he could to shoot out the door and roam the fields and yards of our neighborhood. But he always came back—eventually.
One summer our friend Bob came over to stucco the decaying brick facade of our ancient home. Bob didn't know the rules about Buck. So, unbeknownst to me, while Bob was working on the house, he let Buck out—unleashed—every morning, allowing our mutt to roam the neighborhood unescorted.
One day during this time, I walked around the corner to Pino's Pizza. As I stood at the counter, waiting for my order, Mr. Pino looked at me and then said in his thick Italian accent, "Do you like your dog?"
"Excuse me?" I said.
"Do you like your dog?"
Confused, I responded, "Yes. I do like my dog. Why?"
"Well, ifa you like your dog, then keep him away from my place."
"Buck? Why? What's he been doing?"
"Effery morning, he come and take the bread."
"Effery morning, he come, take the bread the bakery truck drop off. Fresh. My long, fresh Italian bread, warm. He take it and head down the alley."
"How do you know it's my dog?"
"I want to find out why my bread missing. So I come very early. I wait. Your dog come. He wait. The bread man come, then leave. And the dog go up to the box, pull out a long, fresh roll, and head down the alley."
Embarrassed, I apologized profusely, then offered to pay for Buck's thievery.
"No. No money. You just keep your dog home. Yes?"
"Yes," I said, thinking, Apparently, the Buck stops here.
Afterward, I related the story to a neighbor who said she'd also seen Buck, just once though, a long roll of Italian bread in his jaws, prancing down the alley, tail wagging. What a treat! For Buck, Pino's bread was like manna from heaven.
Unlike Buck, we don't have to steal our manna from heaven, for Jesus freely gave Himself for us and to us. He is ours for the asking.
Even better, He fills us every day through the Word. When we are starving for nourishment, His manna, His living Word, provides. Take of it freely. Feed on Jesus every morning before your feet hit the floor.
Chew, Man, Chew
I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
PSALM 119:16 KJV
Some dogs are quirkier than others. A few have some, shall we say, unusual habits. Take Bandit, for instance. Even as a puppy, this bloodhound liked to chew, and not the just the usual things. Sure, he liked the occasional dog bone. And he loved a good tennis shoe. But what really got Bandit excited ... was fabric. He loved the feel of flannel between his teeth, so no blanket in the house was safe.
After losing a couple of really nice comforters and blankets, Cindy, his owner, finally wised up. She bought a small blanket from her local supercenter, just to appease Bandit. If he was going to chew on fabric, at least it wouldn't be her expensive bedding. She prayed this would keep him preoccupied ... and also prayed he wouldn't swallow any of the fabric!
Less than two months later, Bandit had chewed over forty baseball-sized holes in what was now affectionately called his "chew-chew blanket." Thankfully, he didn't swallow the missing pieces of fabric. Oh no. Cindy found them in a little pile under her bed, neat as you please. He hid them away like prizes. Still, there was little left of the original blanket. Cindy finally tossed it and bought another, at which point the story repeated itself. She learned through this experience that keeping Bandit focused on chewing the "right" thing solved the problem.
Are you a "chewer" like Bandit? Do you sometimes find yourself chewing on things you shouldn't? Whether we realize it or not, we all do it! Here are a few examples of ways we "chew" on the wrong things. When someone hurts our feelings and we can't seem to stop replaying his or her words in our mind ... we're chewing. When we refuse to forgive someone for the hurt he or she caused us, we're chewing. And when we have a hard time letting go of a nasty habit, we're chewing. Anything that overstays its welcome is going to end up becoming a problem, if we're not careful. And God never intended for us to chew on things that might hurt us. Just the opposite, in fact!
If you've got to chew, at least chew on the right things. Start with the Word of God. Sink your teeth into it. Spend time meditating on it. Take the pieces you've chewed on and carefully stack them, much like Bandit did, so you know right where they are when you need them. You will find that the more time you spend chewing on good stuff—love, joy, peace, righteousness, long-suffering, etc.—the less time you will have to replay and relive old injuries. Before long, your painful memories will be just that ... memories. And they will fade more with each passing day as you feast on the Word.
God truly longs for you to be healed of your past. Today, if you're chewing on a past hurt or sin, let it go. Grab a new blanket ... the Word of God. Then sink your teeth into it. There, you will find the power to move forward.
The Distorted Mirror
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
1 Corinthians 13:11–12 NIV
Aw ... look at that cute little face." My neighbor stroked Benji's chin, sticky with burs again from some corner in the backyard. His nose twittered like a chipmunk as I clutched him in an upright position against my shoulder.
"Yes, and he's going to dog training tonight for the first time."
My schnauzer's ears perked as Donna questioned, "How old is he?"
Her eyebrows rose.
"I'm taking him because he hops down the street like a rabbit pulling at the leash ... and ... he needs socialization. He has no fear of big dogs—any chance he gets he runs straight up to them. I am afraid of big dogs for him."
"My little indomitable has run up to two malamutes, cried for a German shepherd, grunted to get near a pit-bull, but backed away from a Chihuahua. He's so used to looking at Sam, his huge Lab brother, and dominating him, he has no fear of big dogs—just little ones. His mirror is warped."
Dog perception can be as distorted as human perspective.
As a child when I saw a small person bossing a much bigger one, I didn't understand it. Then I grew up and learned it's not the dog in the fight, it's the fight in the dog—unless it's a vicious killer junkyard dog. Then we need to stay clear—but Benji doesn't get it.
When I planned for two dogs, a veterinarian advised, "Since schnauzers are so dominant they need to be matched with a big dog that is not dominant—like a Lab or a golden."
Big Sammy is so gracious, Benji sees himself in a distorted mirror every day as he bites Sam's legs and hangs off his ears—and gets away with it. He is used to being rough with a big dog who is gentle and who adjusts his degree of play like a big brother toward his smaller sibling. This distortion could lead to serious consequences.
Benji needs a reality check to stay out of trouble. Not all big dogs are safe and tolerant like Sammy. Mirrors with accurate reflections protect us.
I am setting the stage to help Benji discern the real world of dangerous canines, just as our good God teaches us to recognize unsafe people. He uses a mirror of truth, His Word and His Holy Spirit, to portray what we are blind to see because of past distortions and tainted reflections.
Sometimes Christians think all the people they meet in church are nice and angelic. They need to see the true reflection of churches is similar to the world—they can harbor those who take advantage of others.
Hopefully, we can discern the Bible's truths that would help us make wise decisions and keep us from pain as we look in the mirror God is holding up and apply what He shows us.
Donna K. Maltese
Love is patient and kind.... It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:4–5 NLT
In 1973, our springer spaniel Ginger was at the ripe old age of nine (sixty-three in dog years). Dad, afraid Ginger would have a heart attack if he took her hunting again, asked Mom if it was all right with her if he got a new springer pup. She responded with an adamant, "No!"
Yet once my dad had set his sights on something, it was very difficult bringing him to heel. So, when we headed to the Jersey shore for the summer, Dad did indeed buy a springer puppy, which he named Maximilian. He just didn't tell Mom. Instead, he took care of Max during the week while he was practicing law at our Pennsylvania home. When Dad came to New Jersey on the weekends, Grandma took care of the pup.
One summer night, Dad took me and my sisters aside and, in an attempt to enlist support that might later be needed, told us all about the cute little springer waiting for us at home. But we weren't to tell Mom anything about him. Giggling, we promised to be mum.
Unfortunately, our veterinarian, a family friend, knew nothing about the code of silence. On a visit to the beach, he happened to say to Mom, "Christine, I love your new puppy."
Mom's face turned to stone, and her voice became stilted as she responded with "What new puppy?"
"The male springer Will brought in for shots ..." The vet's voice faded as he quickly picked up on the fact that Mom seemingly knew nothing about the new addition to our family.
Once the "dog" was out of the bag, Dad brought him to the shore. Maxi was much more affectionate than Ginger and less attached to Dad, much to our delight. We enjoyed watching Maxi dig for shells, swim in the ocean, and hunt frogs under Ginger's tutelage. And the two seemed to get along well, as long as Maxi kept his snout far away from Ginger's bowl at dinnertime.
The vet's visit was a great family story for years, but recently Mom told us she'd known all along that Dad was determined to get a new hunting dog. She just thought it would be easier on her, as far as having to housebreak a puppy, if she pretended to be ignorant of Dad's subterfuge. (And the irony of it is that Dad's new hunting dog turned out to be gun shy.)
In all aspects of their marriage, Mom lived out the precepts of 1 Corinthians 13:4–5, with her patience and keeping no record of wrongs. A good thing, too, for that same summer, Mom got lots of practice. About a month after spilling the beans about the new puppy, the vet came down a second time and said, "Chris, I love your new motorboat."
Mom's response? "What new boat?"CHAPTER 2
A PLACE TO CALL HOME: BELONGING
My dog does have his failings ... but unlike me, he's not afraid of what other people think of him or anxious about his public image.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 JOHN 3:1 NIV
The rescue organization for which my husband and I volunteer as foster parents requires that each animal be microchipped with a unique identification number. When seven-year-old Kloey, a rat terrier, came to live with us, the rescue coordinator sent me the chip, the inserter, and a two-page explanation of the procedure. One look at the size of the insertion needle told me that it was a job for my well-seasoned vet and not for a squeamish foster parent. Kloey was going to the vet the next afternoon, so I took the chip along.
After the initial exam and vaccinations were completed, the vet tech asked if I wanted to watch the microchip procedure. I hesitantly agreed. I tried to make conversation to cover my shakes.
"I've never used the scanner," I said. "How do you do it?"
Dr. B. lifted up what looked like a very large plastic magnifying glass and ran it along Kloey's shoulders as he said, "You just do this—" He was interrupted by a single electronic beep. To our surprise, Kloey already had a chip.
Back home, as I waited on the microchip company's customer service line, a myriad of thoughts drowned out the hold music. What was Kloey's original name? How did she wind up on the city streets so long ago? Most importantly, would she be welcomed back home?
The music stopped abruptly, and a woman with a cheerful voice verified the chip number as one that had been assigned but never registered. My heart sank. A nonregistered chip meant that there was no address or phone number on file for the dog. My questions wouldn't be answered, and there would be no heartwarming family reunion. What a difference some identification could have made.
As our world becomes more and more populous, identity becomes ever more relevant. No one wants to say, "I'm just one of four billion. I'm nobody. Don't notice me." We spend a great deal of money and effort protecting our identities from theft. We safeguard our computers, our bank accounts, and our credit cards.
Excerpted from Heavenly Humor for the Dog Lover's Soul by Dee Aspin, Katherine Douglas, Shelley Lee, Donna K. Maltese, Chuck Miller, Marilee Parrish, Rachel Quillin, Paula Swan. Copyright © 2010 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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