Sunday, January 31, 2010
"Bear" Says "HI!"
I thought maybe it's time for a little update on my foster dog, "Bear".
In the previous post about him I'd mentioned that a couple had been interested in him, however their dog of 19 years had to be put down and in their sorrow they didn't feel they could consider another dog just yet. Please pray for them. You who have pets know how hard a loss that is, and many of you will recall what I went through with my Greyhound, Fire, as he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and was put to sleep only a couple weeks later.
So, it seems Bear is still looking for his "forever home."
He is doing VERY well, I'm happy to report! He and my own dog are getting along very well and have fallen into a comfortable friendship and routine. Bear's real personality has now had the freedom to come out and he is all at once very sweet and docile, mischevious, playful, klutzy, and continues to have a desire to please!
Every day he makes me laugh on our walks as he tends, without warning, to decide to take flight. Seriously! He will suddenly BOUND upward, all four paws airborne, galumphing down the sidewalk in an act of pure joy. You could almost compare it to the joyful bucking of a young colt, but with an upraised tail and doggie grin!
Although I haven't been working with him on obedience in any traditional manner, he IS learning, slowly, by the example of my other dog. As I make her "sit" or "down" for every treat, or some other thing, I have tried a little to enforce that same move with him. Since I know dogs learn well through the behavior of other canines, I've been mostly telling my own dog to "sit" and if Bear does it spontaneously, even when treats AREN'T being offered, I give him a great deal of praise in repeating, "Good sit!"
It seems that he is now willing to "sit" on command, if not yet consistently. At times in his shyness, he can't figure out what I am asking of him even if he did it only 30 seconds before, and I won't push him on it if I see distress; I do not want him to associate obedience training with something scary. It is quite easy to reward his other good behaviors, such as "come", which he is always ready to do if only for a scratch under his chin!
Bear has also gained weight, is filling out nicely and although he has further to go, it is clear that real nutrition is doing WONDERS for him. He is happy, he is comfortable, he has energy, his coat is shiny and SOFT and HEALTHY!
The Theology of the Dog
Ah, you didn't think you'd get off so easily, without me waxing theological, did you? But if you love animals, you may be interested in this particular theology, which comes to us from Christian Anthropology: Who we are in relation to God, and who dogs and other animals are in relation to God and us!
If you recall, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a particular friendship with animals. The animals spoke, Adam had the honor of naming them, and we see in that state of perfection of the world that even animals were given particular gifts that do not belong to them in this fallen world.
In one of my classes this fact was brought to the forefront, and our professor advanced the idea that, in fact, domesticated animals have far greater participation in God's own perfection for they are the ones that are closest to the perfection of animals in the Garden.
It makes sense, though, doesn't it? In the Garden, humans and animals were friends.
When we look at our domesticated animals, don't we see something particular in those relationships? We don't fear them, they don't "fear" us, we work together...but in the proper accordance of God's directive. Although we may joke that our cat or dog or parrot runs the house, reality proves otherwise, and in any area where an animal dominates, we recognize obvious disorder.
Seriously: who of you won't chase your dog or cat off the bed when you want to sleep, regardless of the evil look they give you? Are you really going to sleep on the floor instead of forcing your Great Dane to do so instead? REALLY?
But we see the gift of our pets. I've been saved from furnace issues, one very deadly, compliments of a dog. I've taken my greyhound (I miss him) to a nursing home and watched the residents there pet him in great joy while talking about their lives. We use dogs to sniff out human life (and death, unfortunately) in serious disasters, we use them to find drugs and other illegal materials, and we use them to defend our safety in a myriad of ways. They serve us, we love them, we care for them and together, we have a particular type of friendship that actually is a participation in God's own love.
I, for one, don't keep a loaded gun near me any longer because of the simple fact that I have a dog. I trust my dog's teeth better than my half-asleep shooting, anyway, in the event of a nocturnal intruder.
And, of course, as my professor observed, German Shepherds are nearly human so...could we expect LESS from them?
I know that they take time to "thank" me every morning and evening after I feed them. Before they begin to play or rest or drink water, they come to me to show their affection after they've eaten. I'm not sure most humans have the audacity to such politeness. But I digress.
In any case, Bear is STILL up for adoption, I can't afford him and considering I may at one point actually be entering religious life, I'd REALLY like this dear creature to go to a home that is deserving of his loving attention and protection.
Are YOU that person or family?
As I always do, I must offer: if you are interested in adopting "Bear" please email me so I can direct you to the proper channels and his official adoption page.
For now, though, I am content to have him as a happy member of my household, and I will enjoy him for as long as he is here.