My Next Best Friend

The current, and recurring dispute in our home is whether we should get another pet. Having all but capitulated (don’t tell my kids!) the discussion now revolves around the breed of dog. My wife is campaigning for a Havanese, but I am adamant that we own a Vizsla. A relatively unknown breed, this Hungarian hunting dog has some outstanding virtues. A beautiful breed, the Vizsla is affectionately called the ‘velcro dog’ for its attachment to its owners. Sociability and intelligence are winning characteristics but the real gem is that this dog doesn’t shed and doesn’t smell. It sounds like my future best friend.

One persistent misconception about me is that I don’t like animals. In honesty, I have nurtured this mistaken belief because I enjoy the reaction it brings. But I do like animals—particularly dogs. What I don’t like is filth and stench! And this is the predicament I find myself in, I am attracted to animals that turn my nose. So here comes the Vizsla to the rescue, finally a dog that grooms itself and practices good hygiene. It has no minuses and all plusses, I am ecstatic! I am also aware that my infatuation is delusional.

Sometime in the future I will, pooper-scooper in hand, be complaining bitterly about this one-sided relationship. I do all the hard work while my Hungarian master chortles at my servitude. And yet, I will persist in this injustice because I made a commitment when I invited this dog into my home. Even when the dog proves to be less than I had believed him to be, he will still be my dog. Pooper-scooper and all, we will do life together.

Why do we persist so valiantly with dogs and not with humans? Why do we stay the course with these furniture-eating, dirt-dragging animals only to cut and run from our own kind? Perhaps it’s because people sin against us more viciously than dogs do. But I believe there is a deeper reason too—our thoughts about relationships are just wrong. When we receive an animal we assume a responsibility, but when we begin a relationship we expect a return. Our roles in relationships are too often characterized as consumer and vendor. So when the vendor fails to provide a satisfactory product, we start shopping around.

Let’s give people the same consideration we show to dogs. After the infatuation has been eroded by yet another disappointment, persist. Correct, rebuke, encourage and keep loving one another. I know that people can do more damage than pets, but they can also accomplish much more good. People are worth the effort. Pooper-scooper and all, we do well to live life together.

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7 thoughts on “My Next Best Friend

  1. years ago a cute list of ’10 things you can learn from a dog’ traveled the e-mail surf. there were some valuable lessons contained therein….one of which involved unconditional love. We used to have Golden retrievers–and I think we still have some of their hair in some of our furniture! I applaud your choice of breed…they are indeed a nonshedding, familiy friendly dog. Learning to care for pets is a great way to work in some practical life lessons for the kids, too. Our boys learned about life (and death) through our dogs. I miss having them. someday i hope we have the opportunity to get another. You will enjoy it!!!!!!!!!!

  2. The unconditional love you describe is appealing. But what I am learning right now is the commitment piece. Skelly, our 11yr old black lab is old and weary. Hip displacia + persistent ear infections, etc. She is super sweet and yet she demands more than she can give at this point. She is not a convenience, but she is still our dog and we endure the troubles because we have chosen her as a member of our household. And it has me thinking, why are we so persistent with our pets and so impatient with our people. God grant us the capacity to love better.

  3. Commitment IS the piece or shall I say “peace.” Howard Thurman lists commitment as one the five Disciplines of the Spirit in his book of the same title. Real commitment as he defines it is not what we do out of duty, but what we do automatically –what we can’t stop from doing. In another words when someone surrenders to (is committed to) Jesus, one simply “does his dance” and the world is a better place. It’s automatic…no tit for tat…no expectation of anything in return. Having said that, I still think it’s okay to do things out of a sense of duty, just don’t be dissappointed when you aren’t appreciated. After all, it’s your expectations and attachments that have let you down…not the other person. God grant us the capacity to love without conditions attached to it. Peace and Grace.

  4. A true observation. Thank you for posting.
    But I have a question.
    What should one do when in relation with a person, there is not a return?
    I’m currently in a relationship where I tried to enter with responsibility, but the lack of return is wearing me down. It feels like I’m putting in, but getting nothing back. I want some bilabial guidance, but no one i’ve talked to so far has been able to really help me.

    • I’m sorry that you are hurting-there is no pain like relational pain. Honestly, I don’t have enough information to really help. The bonds of relationship depend on the nature of the relationship. What holds spouses together (God given oaths) is more binding than that between co-workers (financial incentive). Let me know more and I can offer you more specifics. Blessings.

      • Specifically in this case, it’s a close friendship that I entered with the hope of it being more. We were friends, and then decided to see if dating would work out, but never officially started dating, a quasi-dating relationship if you will. It started out last fall and seemed to be going fine. We parted for a period of the holidays as we both went to see our families. When we both came back to Jackson this spring, I tried to pick up where we left off and she seemed to share the same feeling, but for the last 3 months there has been a lot of me trying to work out time for us to spend together and a lot of her flaking out on me, often without explanation. At this point we are both going home to see our families for the summer and I don’t even know where we stand as there hasn’t been any sort of feedback or effort from her for the past month to try to encourage our friendship.

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