“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
It’s no secret that I come from a family of animal lovers. We seem to become more enamored with our pets as we age. Even my grandparents named each cow in their herd and gave out ranch cubes (cow cookies) with abandon. I’ve shared with you the stories of the Barefoot Hospitality Hounds. Allow me to share some other furry family members with you.
I recently spent a few days with my parents in Austin, TX. When I arrived, my father was sitting at his usual spot at the table with his cereal bowl. Beside him was a place setting that was identical – but smaller – than his. It was for the cat. “He likes to have cereal with me in the morning, but it has to be out of a bowl like mine. He is insulted if you try to serve him from a ‘cat bowl’.” I wondered briefly if I was in the wrong house.
Let me give you a little primer on my parents’ cat. His name is Beowulf, so named for the ancient warrior who famously slayed the monster Grendel. My mother gave him this name because as a tiny abandoned kitten, he was stocky and “warlike.” Indeed, Beowulf fought and survived to become the ruler of ancient Europe. Similarly, my parents’ cat rules the house with an iron paw. Over the years his moniker (like his personality) has softened a bit to “Wulfie,” “Wulfwulf,” or “Wulferpoo.” (I swear he gives me the stink-eye when I visit because I take too much of my parents’ attention. He tolerates me temporarily, but quickly tires of my presence in his kingdom.)
After dinner on the same visit to see my parents, we went in search of organic uncured bacon for Wulfie. It seems he has developed a disdain for all things containing nitrates. We inspected each package of bacon at the local Super HEB for any objectionable ingredient. After an exhaustive search, we finally settled on a package that would satisfy
my mother’s Wulfie’s standards. I can’t make this up, y’all.
My brother, who is a magnet for all creatures great and small, has an enormous chocolate lab named Remy. This dog was the remedy (“remy” in French) for the heartbreak of losing his beloved yellow lab, Duke, to lymphoma several years ago. As with most giant dogs, Remy has absolutely no clue that he is not a chihuahua. He will climb into your lap and expects to be carried in an out of the house when the grass is wet.
Duke and Remy were both supposed to be hunting dogs that would retrieve downed birds during my brother’s hunting expeditions. At the first sound of a gunshot, both of these sweet goofy canines ran for cover. Eventually, my brother gave up trying to “train” them. The dogs ended up staying in bed with my sister-in-law (who is actually the authority figure in the house) on those cold early mornings during hunting season…under warm blankets, of course.
We’re Not Worthy
There are no end to the stories and quotes about love of our pets, but this quote jumped off the page and grabbed me. It might be the quintessential sum of all that is good about humankind:
“Looking at the relationship man has had with the natural world, the domestication of dog(s) may be the only thing we ever got right.”
– David Joy (Garden and Gun, “Mutually Reclusive” )
What I have gleaned from my years as an animal lover is that most animals are easier to love than people. We are simply not worthy of their selfless loyalty and companionship. Quite simply, their love mirrors the love our Creator has for us; after all, d-o-g is G-o-d spelled backward…
Will you join me in trying to be a better steward of your blessings (four-legged, two-legged or otherwise)? Adopt a pet that has been displaced by Hurricane Florence? Or a pet that needs a home wherever you live? Make an effort to recycle more? Donate your time and/or resources to a local homeless shelter or favorite charity?
How can you be a better steward of your blessings?