Reflections of Christian Living in Adoption and Rescue

9 Mar

Reflections on Christian Living – Mar 2015

We’ve had her a week. We rescued our new dog, Vivian, from a puppy mill.  She has had a hard life for six years.  She gave birth to a litter of pups at least twice a year.  Almost everything that happened to her was out of her control.  The only choices she ever had were to eat or not to eat, to go potty –  when the gates were opened – or not.

This first week has been a challenge for all.  I’ve already noticed several things.  Vivian – though six years old – was never trained.  Not house trained, not trained to wait for food, not trained to take a collar or harness, definitely not trained to walk on a leash or even seeing a leash.  Not trained to any commands: not come, not sit, not stay, not in, not out, not eat, not potty.  She has no recognition of the human words our other dog knows extremely well;  words like: come, sit, stand, stay, lay down, off,  walk, ride, treat, eat, bedtime.  (Of course his problem is not that he doesn’t know what we want, it is whether or not he choses to obey the commands – the first time. Sound familiar?)

Next I noticed Vivian (Vivi) is scared of humans.  She is timid and shy around any people and not very brave around other dogs either.  Who could blame her?  All she had known in the past was hurtful, whether human or dog initiated.  The puppy mill –  her old life, showed her no love.  Vivi was seen as a dollar bill.  Only the minimum was done to keep her alive and “productive”.   No one noticed or cared for her needs.  How do I know?  Her teeth were in awful shape – meaning they fed her bad food and never had her teeth brushed.  She had never been groomed or taken to the vet.  As a result, she had to have several teeth pulled.  That is painful.  She had a tumor, which the vet found when the rescue team sent her in for her spay and shots.  At the puppy mill, no one saw or cared to take notice of her health.  Except for her head, Vivi was shaved, in order to get the mats out of her hair. She was a breeder to be used.  Period.  Life was bad — until she was rescued.

Third, I’ve noticed she is now quickly learning to adapt to the freedom she is experiencing in our home.  Vivi is slowly becoming a bit more inquisitive about her surroundings.  She is starting to look for me and when she finds me, she still often moves back to safety of observing from several feet away.  However, she is learning her name.  She is learning to come.  She is learning who can solve her life challenges and meet her needs.  She is learning that when she obeys, she is rewarded.

Fourth, our other dog is helping her learn the ways of “our pack”, our home.  He is slowly teaching her to trust, to know who and what is safe (us, the yard, etc).  He is helping to teach her that we have only her best interest at heart.  He is teaching her by example, he trusts us, so she should trust us too.  If he goes outside, then she is learning she needs to go outside too.  If he comes into the living room, she is learning to come into the living room.  She is slowly learning one step at a time; one test at a time.

Fifth,  somethings are still a challenge for her to learn and accept.  It took 3 days for her to cross her first doorway threshold.  She still hesitates – but she does it.  I had to teach her by moving her feet slowly, how to walk more than a foot at a time, and to move her feet over the bump (the threshold) without hurting.  While, Vivi is often startled by noise and won’t go out or in until she has a clean “flight path” – meaning a way of escape; no one nearby – That is OK for now.  I hope and pray that before box-elder season is upon us, she learns the commands to “come” and to “be quick”, so we don’t have a house full of nasty bugs.  I’m hoping her trust in us will continue to grow.

As I was reflecting on these things, I felt a deep chord strike with me.  How much do we, like Vivian, get captured and caught in a net of fateful human and circumstantially based bad choices?  These choices of ours often seem out of our control.  In a sense they are, because we are not perfect.  We are going to fail.  We all have human sinful natures – Surprise!  We can get caught in a prison of our own making or in a prison of someone else’s doing.

Vivi, has reminded me that God loved me at my worst.  God loved me unconditionally when I was matted, dirty, smelly from sin, and not loving Him.  There was not, and is not, any way for me to escape from God’s love, whether I want it or not.  Vivi reminds me that God still loves me when I am stinky with sin and need to confess.  His love never stops.  He wants to have a personal relationship with me.  God wants me to trust Him to know what is best for me.

IamPersuaded35pp                   ROMANS-5-8

I’ve also been reminded by Vivi that God sends other people in our lives to help us grow and to help us learn to trust.  Just as our other dog is showing Vivian the “ropes” regarding living in our house and our house expectations; so too, God will send other people, often sisters and brothers in Christ, to serve us by helping us to experience truth.  We sometimes see things in the mirror they reflect back to us, which we don’t want to see.  We all want to deny our short fallings.  Sometimes, they point out good qualities and gifts that, in our insecurities, we have simply failed to notice.   Sometimes they point out areas where we have a blind spot.  These people are not sent to judge us, but to help us grow.  We are in partnership with others to help them grow too.  Together, we sharpen each other’s knowledge of God and of ourselves. Together we can discover things we cannot learn on our own.

What a wonderful loving God we have.  We continue to hope and pray that Vivian will grow in her comfort with us and that she will grow to love her new forever home for more than simply good food and a warm bed.   She like we, need our simple needs met before we can begin to discover the joy of truly living.  Joy found only in Jesus Christ.

I want the joy to be found in Christ for many people in my life.  I want them  to come to know Christ, to see Him in me.  I want people to accept Him and grow in love with their new forever home – heaven.  In the meantime, I continue to reflect on what Christ gave up when He left heaven to come to earth as fully God and fully man, to show me what true love looks and acts like.

Martha L Shaw - Poet, Writer, Artist

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