Although only six months old and of a different species, Oreo is teaching me quite a lot about being human. Yes, sometimes I refer to him as my Oreo cookie, but Oreo is my bi-shiz-poo (not an AKC approved named).
I’ve wanted a puppy since I was a little girl. In fact in 7th grade we had to write an essay about a childhood memory we would change and mine was about not asking my uncle for one of his new puppies. I still vividly remember sitting on the cool cement floor of my uncle’s house playing with all these little soft black puppies. I so desperately wanted one to come home with me, but I knew my parents would say no. So I didn’t even ask. I can remember consoling myself with the thought that I would get to play with them every time I came over. However, by my next visit, the puppies were all gone. I don’t remember how old I was then, but that memory from Haiti was over 25 years ago.
Recently, as in two-and-a-half weeks ago, I inherited a puppy. Sadly this was not my first attempt to pacify that childhood longing. I adopted a dog from the shelter once but we both (the dog and I) had so much anxiety over the decision that I returned him. Despite all this wanting and thinking and searching, Oreo fell into my lap quite unexpectedly; without much prior knowledge, or time to plan. It was as if my friends said, “you have been talking about a dog for the last seven years, here! Get one already!”
But, back to human training. As the days of ownership wore on and my initial anxiety about the commitment sunk to the pit of my stomach for lifelong residence, I started seeing aspects of myself I wasn’t too keen of committing to.
I’m still unbelievably selfish. I live a selfish life. I serve and I volunteer and I go out of my way to help. I sign up for mission trips, I brave foreign dangers, I passionately speak out about atrocities against the weak. I visit friends at the hospital, I pray for the sick, I spend time mentoring or ministering to others… When I want to. When it’s convenient for me. When my time allows for it. And when it doesn’t, I conveniently explain (if I feel an explanation is warranted) why I cannot be inconvenienced at this time. Try to care for a dog with that attitude.
I am still very impatient, and demanding, with a tall order of high expectations. I want things done right the first time and there better be a good reason otherwise. There is a place for everything and everything should be in its place. If I have to say it a third time you can expect consequences. Try training a dog (and not lose your salvation) with that attitude.
Although I’ve done my share of camping and living in tents for weeks at a time in the woods, I’m not a fan of the outdoors. I hate grass, especially Florida grass. I don’t like to be in the hot sun. I can’t stand mosquitoes and flies. I have an extreme fear of snakes. Try restraining a dog with that attitude.
I idolize my comfort. I have a tendency to quit or give up when things get difficult. In fact, every morning for the first week and a half, I woke up deciding that I had to give him back. That this was too much. That I didn’t need this in my life right now. He made my schedule uncomfortable. He made my relationship with my roommate uncomfortable. The demands and restraints he placed on my life were uncomfortable. Try loving a dog, or a human, with that attitude.
In the short time I’ve owned Oreo, I’ve changed. I have a new-found respect for moms. Now don’t think I’m one of those “owners who pushes their dogs around in a baby carriage”. Neither have I ever been oblivious to the plight of mothers! But I have now had that suffocating feeling of being completely depended on, having too many unanswered questions for Google, and operating on little sleep. I’ve become more outgoing in interacting with my neighbors and even strangers. I’m more bold. I’ve had to put my fears aside in order to tend to something else beside my emotions. The fact that I was on my patio one day after a snake sighting is nothing short of a miracle!
Oreo placed a mirror to my face and made me take a good look at myself. How selfish have I been in my human relationships? What other idols are blocking my God-relationship? Not a great reflection, unfortunately, but I am grateful for