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Shot Of The Day

Wonder Dog

Update on Gator the Wonder Dog

We brought him home from the hospital last night. Cameron and I had to lift his 90 pounds of fur from the back of the SUV to the floor. While he usually hates to be picked up, he didn’t really resist. He walked in the door on his own steam, wagged his tail and plopped down on his plaid dog bed where the words GATOR are embroidered in all caps. It was a gift from dad years ago. Men and their dogs have a bond like few others. People keep sending us the u-tube video of the dog at the soldier’s casket. I love the sentiment but I can’t make myself watch it. I guess I don’t need to see it to know how deep that connection can go. After Gator sniffed the air a while to confirm that he was indeed home, we all curled up on the floor with him assuming the role of dog. He fell fast asleep surrounded by his favorite peeps and stuffed animals. This morning, I woke up with that foggy mind where you have to remember what day it is and what’s going on with the ones you love… “is he here? or still at the hospital?” Then the familiar morning sound I’ve grown to love… his tail pounding the carpet, gave me the answer. It sounds like a heart beat and in a way, it really is. You know it is well with a dog’s soul when the tail moves vigorously. Kind of like the smile on a person or the purr from a cat. As wonderful as this healing news is, I can’t seem to get something out of my mind. I had it many years ago when I was returning from a mission trip to Cuba, but I pushed it down to the place where you push things that bother you because there is no easy answer. In the airport, I met many Cubans who left Cuba years ago and were now at the end of a return visit to see family or friends. At the end of a visit to Cuba, you rarely see people with lots of baggage. Most leave empty-handed because the thought of taking anything back with you seems sacrilegious in light of all the suffering. It isn’t rare for visitors to leave their clothing and return in a native’s rags just so that one more person can have something. As I departed, I saw one family with a most unusual piece of baggage — a dog in a kennel. Who would bring a dog to Cuba I wondered? The dogs I had seen on my visit were malnourished and dying. By contrast, this dog was groomed by an artiste with a decorative-Doctor-Seuss flair. She had perfectly rounded puffs on her tail and bows on her ears. Her nails were painted the same color as her bows and she rested on a decorator pillow that matched the fabric on the carrier. The dog was well fed and coddled and cuddled by the owners. The family doting on her was obviously concerned that pookums would be stressed by the plane ride home. I guess a guy sitting next to me saw the look on my face as I stared intently at the irony of the scene and tried to make sense out of what was going on. The contrast between the care that this dog had received and the suffering of the people around him was stark and almost comical. The man next to me finally explained that some come back to Cuba with the intention of showing others how well they are doing now that they are free. He was certain this was the case with the dog. I didn’t understand it, but I couldn’t shake the irony of a pampered dog being better off than human beings. In the hospital this weekend with Gator, I had the same feeling but I couldn’t stuff it down this time. I love my dog. When they told us how much it would cost to save him, I said yes even though he is 11.5 and has a life expectancy of 12-14 years. I said yes even though I could feed countless starving children with the same money. I said yes and now I can’t shake the weird thought that there are millions of people on this planet who would give their eye teeth to be my dog. To be fed regularly. To have clean water. To have medical attention. To be loved and cared for like I care for my dog? I don’t think there is anything wrong with loving a dog the way I love Gator, but isn’t there something wrong with this picture? I know GOD wants us to love others the way I love my dog, but…. But what? I can’t really think of a good but? Can you? I can’t finish the sentence so easily any more. Perhaps GOD uses everything for our good. Perhaps this tragedy with Gator was meant to stir this stuff up in a way that I can’t push it down anymore? Perhaps caring for my dog has taught me that caring for the hurting is not so complicated. Feed them. Pat them. Tell them it’s going to be OK. Comfort them. Do what you can with what you’ve got. Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything. Do something. Don’t try to make it perfect. God makes it perfect. Just do something and if they ask why, don’t be afraid to tell them. You can do something but GOD can do everything! That is a taste of Jesus to the hurting world. Perhaps all of this is to say…. I seem to be learning my next life lesson from Gator. Stay tuned Gator fans, I’m sure they’ll be more.

Posted: 1 September 2011