You read that right.
Lest you think that I'm writing a canine version of "The Princess and the Pea" – in which I share an air mattress with a dog and can't sleep because of an errant kernel of kibble underneath – let me explain.
My youngest son had to travel out of town for the last two weeks, and I volunteered to take care of my grandbeagle, Marty.
No one has to ask me twice to do that!
Sure, it saves money – but hey, it's MARTY!!!
I love my little furry guy.
Yes, I am biased, but he's pretty adorable.
Might I just regale you with some highlights of our time together?
1. Dog took middle-aged woman for walks three times a day.
2. Dog made middle-aged woman think about signing up for the Iditarod race.
(The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long-distance sled dog race run in early March from Settler's Bay to Nome [Alaska]…Mushers and a team of 21 dogs...cover the distance [over 1,000 miles] in 9–15 days or more).
3. The word "walk" is a misnomer – it should more accurately be called a tug, pull, roam, or wander.
4. Dog found the most awkward places and timing to do his "duty" – usually when people were walking by or retrieving the newspaper on their driveway.
5. Middle-aged woman snickered because dog sometimes chose to make his "deposit" in front of one of the two yacht clubs in the area.
6. Dog tried to eat a bouquet of roses.
7. Dog found random paper towels with delicious scents and dug them out of the trash.
8. Dog injured left arm – limped for two days ☹ – then recovered quickly ☺
– quickly enough to tug, pull, roam, and wander.
9. When dog saw someone approaching (anyone!), he came to a complete (and immovable) standstill – even if the person was a hundred feet away.
10. Middle-aged woman had to explain (often) that his stance was not a sign of his ferociousness, but only of his desire to jump up and lick and make new friends.
11. Dog is mistaken for being a puppy – which isn't too bad when you're 9½!!
12. Middle-aged woman was NOT mistaken for being a puppy…sigh.
13. Dog snored.
14. Middle-aged woman might have snored – dog didn't say.
15. Dog loved being chased around the room by middle-aged woman. Woman panted, dog did not.
16. Dog loved string cheese *treats*.
17. Dog almost ate *string cheese fingers* of middle-aged woman as he bit ravenously into the string cheese. (Note to self: do not hold string cheese in hand when feeding dog).
18. After countless hijinks, antics, and shenanigans, middle-aged woman is convinced that dog is not a dog, but a mischievous angel in disguise.
Yes, I do love dogs, and I especially love Marty.
My favorite thing of all is curling up next to him at bedtime.
Now mind you, on his *regular* nights, Marty sleeps in his own bed, all balled up, nice and cozy.
But when I am there, I like having him next to me.
Last year I tried sleeping next to him on some couch cushions, but that wasn't too comfortable.
Hence, the air mattress.
I figured that we could pretend that we were out in the wild, maybe Alaska, and *roughing it* together!
I rarely sleep as soundly as I do when Marty is curled up by me.
He usually starts the night at my feet, and then sometime around 4 AM, he wanders up closer.
If I've been sleeping especially deeply, I'll be surprised by a furry face right next to mine in the wee hours of the morning! (The snoring is usually the first clue…!)
When my son returned home, he was most appreciative of my time taking care of Marty.
But perhaps he'll never know how much it means to me to spend time with my grandbeagle.
I have always maintained that when a human forms a bond with an animal, there is something primal about it, something *original* if you will – like an echo of Eden.
God intended people and animals to have a relationship.
And when we take care of them, we are fulfilling the original directive given in the Garden:
"Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" (Genesis 1:26, NIV)
How should this charge be interpreted?
First of all, I'd like to correct what I think is a misinterpretation.
Having dominion over something has a negative connotation in most people's minds.
I don't know about you, but I usually think of it as meaning domination, subjugation, or exploitation – like a dictator has over his kingdom.
I don't think of kindness – I think of cruelty and injustice, apathy and insensitivity.
But having dominion over the animals should entail a humane management of them, just as God intended.
I think it's very important to remember that God created animals in His original plan of creation. He saved them in the Flood. And they are mentioned in the future, too.
"God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good."
(Genesis 1:25, NLT)
"'Bring a pair of every kind of animal – a male and a female – into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood.'" (Genesis 6:19, NLT)
"In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all." (Isaiah 11:6, NLT)
I'm not going to get into a discussion of whether or not individual animals will be part of the new creation, or debate the question of whether our pets go to heaven – (I personally hope so!) – but I trust God to do what is far better than what I can think or imagine!
I love this quote from Billy Graham:
"God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."
But I digress.
The point is that we should consider the fact that mankind was given the task, privilege, and blessing of representing God in this world.
We are appointed to be His caretakers.
And as His image-bearers, we have been charged with the serious responsibility to act as God would.
I like the analogy of a garden and a gardener.
The gardener has, in a sense, dominion over his garden – but this position of power is not to be taken lightly.
What gardener would intentionally harm or destroy his garden?
Rather, he tends it carefully – feeding and watering it, protecting it from weeds and invading pests, sheltering it, and promoting growth. In short, the gardener does everything in his power to help the garden thrive.
I think it's the same with animals, specifically – and the same with all of creation, in general.
God gives us the weighty task of caretaking, of taking care of HIS creation.
We must always remember that creation does not belong to us.
It is not ours to use or abuse.
It is not ours to waste or squander.
It is not ours to trample or trash.
It is not ours to conquer or crush.
"The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours – you created it all." (Psalm 89:11, NLT)
OK, so you might not be an animal-lover, or a tree-hugger, or a swim-with-the-sharks kind of person.
But I'll just bet that you have had times when the beauty of creation has left you breathless and awed.
Because you felt God in that moment.
"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." (Romans 1:20, ESV)
So, once again I had the joyous task of taking care of one special little dog.
And once again, I was taught a lot about God in the process.
About responsibility and caretaking.
About kindness and compassion.
About appreciation and respect.
About being God's representative in a world that rarely reflects His character – and doing it well.
All this, while lying on an air mattress with a small beagle in the middle of the night!
Well done, Marty!!
What are your thoughts about taking care of God's creation?
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
(Cecil Frances Alexander)
"You care for people and animals alike,
"The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it…So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals." (Genesis 2:15, 19-20, NLT)
"'With my great strength and powerful arm I made the earth and all its people and every animal.'" (Jeremiah 27:5, NLT)
"O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures." (Psalm 104:24, NLT)
"'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'" (Revelation 4:11, NIV)
"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things were created through him and for him."
(Colossians 1:16, ESV)
"'You alone are the LORD. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all…'" (Nehemiah 9:6, NLT)
"'Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish in the sea speak to you. For they all know…For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.'" (Job 12:7-10, NLT)
"For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay."
(Romans 8:19-21, NLT)
"'In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.'" (Hosea 2:18, NIV)
"Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
Let every created thing give praise to the LORD,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,
fire and hail, snow and clouds,
wind and weather that obey him,
mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,
kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,
young men and young women,
old men and children.
Let them all praise the name of the LORD.
For his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!"
(From Psalm 148, NLT)
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