God gave me a heart for the dog. He gave me a love for all animals but somehow, my heart is geared toward the canine among us. I've known this about myself for probably my whole life. There were seasons that I believed that this affinity was somehow frivolous, that there were better things to do with my time and love than to shower it upon my pet dogs. Don't get me wrong, I love the upright, two-legged people as well especially the ones who live in my house.
Who does God want me to be and what is my assignment here on earth? I can't tell you how many times I've asked myself that. There have been times when I've known absolutely, without doubt of my mission. God gave me two children in the span of 18 months. I think my task was clear here. Girlfriend had a job to do, yes indeed. He moved me to a farm with my husband over a decade ago...girlfriend had more work to do. But, what about my "special purpose"? Surely I wasn't sent to this planet to make sure everybody has clean socks and underwear.
Since I'm very rapidly reaching middle age, I've been soul-searching. Not that it is any shock, I've always been a seeker, a question asker. But lately I've been coming to some actual conclusions about myself. I really don't think God would have given me such compassion and deep abiding affection of animals if I wasn't meant to somehow use it. I don't believe that I'm to ditch my family and go live with the wolves or throw myself into a 24 hour a day volunteer schedule at the Humane society. God simply calls me to move...He also calls me to write. So here is my latest entry in the God-driven gift of rambling on about my thoughts, and rambling on about dogs. A very special one, in particular.
This is Patrick...
Some of you may have already heard his story. If not, I will briefly fill you in. Patrick was found on March 16th in a garbage bag. He had been tossed down the garbage shoot of the apartment building in Newark where his owners lived. By all appearances, he hadn't been fed for months and when the starvation had all but consumed him, he was thrown away and left to die. A maintenance worker, who was emptying the garbage shoot, saw the trash bag that Patrick was in move and opened it up to find the poor lifeless little guy barely alive.
The following picture is disturbing. The first time I saw it I couldn't believe that this was an animal that was even alive. This is Patrick, on March 16th 2011.
Oh, the emotions that flooded me when I first saw this. I immediately went to the place of condemnation of whoever was responsible for such torment. Why? Why in the world would anything like this ever happen? Who could do such a thing?
I've been reading a lot of comments that folks have been leaving on Patrick's now very popular facebook page. Most people, well all people, are angry about what happened. There are petitions being signed to make sure that the responsible party receives the maximum penalty and they are even seeking new laws that would further penalize the tormenter.
It has been weighing heavily on my mind. I've been to the place of "they should lock them up and starve those people to the point that he was starved". Then I quietly hear the voice of my savior whisper, "judge not". I've never been quite so tempted to argue with God. Judge not?? Did you see that poor dog?
So, I'm asked to take another road. The judge not road...
There is a righteous judgement, I've heard this a million times from my mother. I began to think what a righteous judgement would be in a case like this.
This is the woman accused of the neglect and torment of Patrick. I won't divulge her name but you can google it if you'd like. She's all over the internet about this hot-topic case.
I've heard this saying before and it was recently brought back to my attention, "hurt people, hurt people". My heart began to bleed as I wondered what kind of hurt would have to happen to a person to make them so neglectful to an innocent creature. What kind of hurt?
Then as I thought about the judgement that has quickly come down on this woman, I started to think what I would do if I were the judge and jury. Like I said, my first reaction would have been to tie her up and let her starve. But the Holy Spirit never lets me stay in a place like that long.
This would be my sentencing. She would be assigned to work at a shelter for dogs. Daily she would feed them, clean their cages, administer medications, walk them, play with them, make sure they were warm, and clean up after them. She would be made to organize fundraisers to raise money to buy food to feed the homeless dogs. It would be up to her to find the means to feed every dog in the shelter. Sure, there would have to be guidance from those who know how to do such things, but it would ultimately be her who would be responsible for feeding them. I would also require that she sit long hours with the animals that were sick, the ones that need the most attention, like Patrick. Sometimes, people simply have never experienced the fulfillment of properly caring for another living thing. They only know abuse and neglect so that's what they do. We should pray for the people that only know neglect. We should try and find some compassion even when our nature tells us to point fingers.
I've read a lot about animal assisted therapy. There is a children's home that our church supports that assigns the children regular chores involving animals. They are given responsibility to care for them and, in turn, experience that joy and peace that comes with a job well done and the reward of an animal that loves them unconditionally. You can't get better therapy than that.
God gave us the animals. They were provided by an almighty being to give us food, clothes, companionship, and love. They have much to teach us. We have much to learn.
Patrick is a miracle. There is a reason for everything, I know this well. He was saved for a reason, if for nothing more than to give us all hope and to teach us all about compassion. Let not the lesson be about vengeance, but about humanity. God bless us all.