Not long after we brought our dog Mojo home, some friends whom we shall call Jane and Al came over for dinner. I was smothering four medium rare steaks in sauce on the backyard barbecue when they arrived. Mojo introduced them to all six inches of herself by going completely crazy, leaping and running mad circles around them, as if she were about to sign them up to sell Amway. When Al saw the dog, he said, “I suppose they can be fun, but…she reminds me of Precious.” “Who’s Precious?” I asked.
Precious, Al told me, is Jane’s parent’s dog. Since this little bundle of Chihuahua arrived, Jane’s parents had missed their grandchildren’s graduations, birthdays, and Christmases. They didn’t even make it to their daughter’s wedding. Al said, “They gave the grandkids away because the dog was allergic to ‘em.” “Precious doesn’t travel so well,” Jane continued. “No one is good enough to dog sit. So the three of them stay home together. They plan this dog’s meals on a chart. They buy Halloween outfits and liver biscotti and oatmeal shampoo for sensitive skin. They feed it organic dog food. Filtered water. Talk about overindulgence.”
Canadians, I have since learned, spend over $10 billion a year on their pets. You can get Fido into acupuncture sessions for $150 an hour and pay $3,500 for hydrotherapy treatments. It’s not something I mention when we’re in third world countries. Mojo cocked her head as if she knew we were talking about her kind. Suddenly Al laughed. “Last Christmas morning our kids opened a package about three feet by four feet. We had asked Jane’s parents for a picture of them that we could hang about the mantle. It was the portrait we had asked for, but they were holding the dog and they’re both looking at the dog!” “No way!” I said. It sounds preposterous, but it’s true.
Jane’s parents are lifelong atheists. They both admit that there is nothing more important to them than their “Precious.” I find it easy to point fingers, but all of us are in danger of putting something in the place God was meant to be – self; a cause; a relationship; a house. I’m guilty so often of elevating the temporal above the eternal. But true joy and lasting fulfillment arrive when we bow our knee before the one true God. Put anything else in His place and it will disappoint, whether you possess it or not.
Speaking of disappointment, my dog has been staring at me for quite some time, disappointed that I haven’t offered her a treat. Just wait ‘til I tell her there will be no acupuncture or oatmeal shampoo.