I think if God loves me at least as much as I love our dogs, I am in good shape. As you know, we gave our female yellow lab mix the name Scout, thinking it was a nice, sturdy, unisex name for our son’s dog. What we got instead was a canine Gwyneth Paltrow – a beautiful but amoral blonde, bent on the destruction of our home.
We first met Scout at a Kendra Scott event at our local mall. For non-Texans, you need to know that Kendra Scott is the go-to jewelry store for women down here. We recognize each other by the earring collections. The store also hosts more charity events than any other place on the planet, routinely giving away 20% of an evening’s sales to a featured cause. In fact, I think I have only been in the stores twice when it wasn’t a charity event, and that was to buy teacher gifts. It was at one such event we took away our most costly item ever purchased there. That was where we met our beautiful blonde, the spokesdog for a local shelter doing pet adoptions, sporting a pink necklace and looking oh so innocent. If only we knew.
It was a tough time for us to adopt another dog, as we already had two, and one was dying of cancer. Scout immediately defied all of our expectations. My son was terrified of her and her sledgehammer tail. I love you! Whap! I love you! Whap, whap! After the first few nights in his room, he asked us if we could take her. Then, the reign of terror began in earnest. First, she pushed my laptop off a table, crushing the corner and resulting in expensive repairs. The shoe loss was a given; we just rolled with it. Next was the attack on books. She developed a taste for pencils, shredding them in my bed. Reading glasses were another obsession. She began stealing them off my night table to chew. Two of my nicer Christmas gifts were disposed of: a new duffel bag and my Beats headphones. Now, there is no time we are safe from her carnage. I routinely wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, hearing the sound of munching on an electrical cord or my password book or calendar. Sometimes it’s nothing, and sometimes she is eating one of my pillows. A side note: she thoughtfully takes them out of the cases first.
Having been pushed to the brink of despair by this creature’s shenanigans, I have sought to find a deeper meaning in our situation. Now I understand that how I see Scout must be similar to how God sees us: beautiful, perfect creations, hell-bent on messing things up and sometimes destroying the gifts we have been given (or that have been given to others – ahem). Scout’s path of destruction must look a lot like our sinful paths, continually separating ourselves from God. Much of what she destroys are things that take our attention away from her. In turn, we want her attention, as God wants ours. Just as God asks us to come to Him, we beg Scout. “Come sit next to us, let us give you some love.” She turns her head and yawns contemptuously. When we show attention to our little chihuahua, she glares at us with reproach. It reminds me of how we tend to take God for granted in our daily lives, yet certainly feel left out when we see His blessings bestowed on others. We are jealous of His love for others. We want that chew toy.
I remember reading your post this April on the retreat we attended themed “Beloved and Chosen.” I don’t always feel this way and I sometimes find it hard to perceive or accept God’s love for me. Our love for our crazy dog has helped me understand how it is possible to be completely and utterly flawed and still be loved. We have accepted Scout, faults and all, and she has mellowed. There is nothing we wouldn’t do for her. My son now enjoys wrestling with her. We have learned to set boundaries for her, as God does for us. She continues to fail and we continue to love her. She is beautiful. She is part of the family. For all of our faults, God loves us the same way – even more. How many times can we forgive Scout? How may shoes are there in our house? We have learned to love the sinner and hate the sin. If we can do this with our dog, imagine what God can do for us.
Perhaps we did pick the right name for our girl. After all, she is not some vegan lifestyle guru/actress peddling organic makeup and conscious uncoupling. Scout has more important life lessons to teach us.