Pet Lessons

My husband and I {love} animals.  As a matter of fact, Tim’s first major in college was biology, in the hopes of becoming a veterinarian.  Unfortunately, his hopes were dashed when he discovered that he did not, in fact, love biology the way that he loves animals.  But it’s not surprising that he wanted to work with animals,  given that just about every picture of him as a kid included a cat.  In his arms.  Being loved to pieces.

Pet Lessons

Though not as much of a “cat person”, as one might refer to my husband {or his dad – the great cat whisperer, we think}, I have always possessed a certain affinity for animals as well, and even convinced my dad once that we needed a family pet.  Which, oddly enough, was a cat that turned out to hate me. My many attempts at snuggling with this fiercely independent creature might’ve had something to do with that.

Pet Lessons

As animal lovers, then, we have lots of pets {especially for our small house}.  Two cats, two dogs.  All of them, rascals.  All of them, entertaining in their own ways.  And, if you ask us, all of them are incredibly cute despite their many annoying habits {one such annoyance being the enormous amount of hair they all shed EVERY DAY!}.

Pet Lessons

Meet Bruno.

Pet Lessons

Bruno enjoys carrying our clothes around the house, and often growls at the cats if they are near his food bowl.  And he’s sitting on the couch in the living room.  We find this strange and wildly amusing.

Next up – the sweetest dog you’ll {probably}  never meet, Dallas.

Pet Lessons

Dallas has not quite learned the art of hiding under the bed, as most of the time when he attempts to do so, we find the majority of his black, furry body sticking out, tail thumping ferociously.  We laugh.  Every time.  Dallas also enjoys a good snuggle, and can be found most nights curled up next to me on the couch.

And finally- the cats.

Pet Lessons

Our cats are not so much my obsession as they are Tim’s, but I do find them to be quite amusing as well.  They beg to go outside so they can lounge on our deck.  When we take our dogs for walks at dusk, they often follow closely behind until Sadie can’t keep up any longer {she is, as one might say, “girthy”} and plops down in the middle of the road for a rest until we return to find her. {For real.}  And they both let us know when they’re hungry {which is always}.

My pets, though, do not merely provide me with entertainment.  They also teach me.

  • My pets cause me to ponder the immense creativity and skill of God.  Why are our pets so silly?  How did they get so cute?  Why are they so distinctly different from one another in their personalities and skill sets?  As I think of the answers to these questions and more, I am reminded that they have been created by God (Genesis 1&2, Psalm 104, Psalm 146:6), who is extraordinarily creative.  This causes me to stand in humble awe of the Maker King, Who crafted not only the skies, mountains, seas, and humankind; but every living thing – including my silly, little pets.
  • My pets remind me of the generosity of God.  Upon my arrival home from work, I am greeted at the door by two very excited dogs.  This makes me happy.  When I am cleaning, going in and out of the rooms of our household, Dallas often follows me around to see what I am doing.  This makes me so happy!  Whenever I sit down, I am frequently joined by a dog or two.  And then a cat.  Ohh, how this makes me happy, and even brings me a level of comfort on lonely days.  In all these ways and more, my pets remind me that God gives good gifts to the people He has made (James 1:17), which draws me to worship my generous King for His goodness.
  • My pets help to draw me out of my selfishness.  My flesh battles with my spirit to have its way (Rom. 7:22&23), and I see this war waging more acutely in the presence of my pets.  NO, I don’t want to take my dogs out for one last walk at night, in which I pick up their crap and cart it around in a disgustingly thin, plastic bag!  NO, I don’t want to give my dogs a bath.  Like, not ever do I really want to do that.  But it is so good for me, because in these moments {and many others}, I see my selfishness.  I see my desperate need for Christ, even as I care for these little creatures.  Yes, my pets draw me out of my selfishness, causing me to fix my gaze yet again on the One who purchased me, that I might not live for myself anymore (2 Cor. 5:15). {I have been set free (Gal. 5:13).}
  • My pets remind me that there is a greater need than loving animals – it is to love one another.  When I am around my pets, and I bathe them and feed them and hold them in my arms, I cannot help but think that they live in greater luxury than many people around the world.  There is just something that doesn’t seem right about that to me.  And no, I’m not saying the answer is to stop caring for animals or to get rid of all pets; we have been given a responsibility to care for them, after all (Genesis 1:28).  But may we be ever mindful of the fact that, while pets are wonderful and are, indeed, gifts from God; they are just that – animals.  They are not humans, they are not souls with eternity stamped into their hearts (Ecc. 3:11).  How great is our responsibility to love our fellow man, who has been made in the image of God (Matthew 7:12, John 13:34, Rom. 13:8, Gal. 5:14, 1 John 3:17&18)!  May I not neglect this greater need, to help care for the needs of the people around me.

So, I am thankful for my pets.  I am thankful for what they teach me.

“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps…Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!  Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!  Young men and maidens together, old men and children!  Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.”  -Psalm 148:7,10-13
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