November is Thanksgiving month. No doubt you will read numerous columns extolling the virtue and benefits of giving thanks at this time of the year. I could list many, including a couple of miraculous healings I have witnessed over the last couple of months. I am grateful for these things, but in this column, I want to give thanks for something far more mundane.
We have a yellow lab named Maggie and she is the delight of our lives. I know that most people are keen on their own dogs, but she is the best! I have had sheep dogs, mutts, and a Great Dane, and Maggie beats them all hands down. She is intelligent without being cunning, affectionate without being sloppy, and playful without being obnoxious.
But what really gets me is her willingness to engage. She is very sensitive to our moods and needs. Come home joyful? She is ready to play. In a funk? She will put on her best mournful face. Need to exercise? She is ready to run. Want to veg out? She will just loll around, ready to chill.
Now I know this sounds rather narcissistic, as though Maggie was somehow created for our pleasure. However, any delusions of an egocentric world are quickly burst by our cat, who thinks we were created for his pleasure. All kidding aside, I think dogs are God's gift to human beings to teach us lessons in grace.
Think about it for a moment: Dogs usually don't get the chance to choose their masters; they simply have to work with what they are given. Sometimes they must endure the most gruesome of tongue-lashings and if they respond at all it is in some sort of unintelligible barks or whimpers. They lick the hands that punish them. And like the father of the prodigal son, they often wait for ages for their prodigal masters to return home, and don't even ask where they have been. What is even more amazing is that most dogs think their masters are the very best humans in the whole world, despite evidence to the contrary.
Now we still have to admit dogs aren't perfect. They shed, smell, bark too loudly, beg and steal food, and try to escape. And then there is the poop on the floor. Dogs aren't quite divine, but they come pretty close. Remember that "dog" is "God" spelled backwards.
When God created Adam in Genesis 2, we're told he never found a suitable companion until Eve came along. I like to think he got pretty close when Fido was marched in front of him, and I suppose there were days when both Adam and Eve felt Fido would have been a better choice! Maybe that's because when spouses try to love each other it gets complicated. When dogs love, it is with a hopeful simplicity, and sometimes I like simplicity.
It is in that simple, affectionate attention that I am able to catch a glimpse of undeserved favor and in a "prove-yourself-to-me" sort of world that is a breath of fresh air. That is why this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the simple pleasure of my Maggie.