Our dog Casey is stupid.
I know that sounds unkind, but stick with me here and I think you will eventually agree.
On the other hand, our cat is smart.
This has nothing to do with me be “cat person” or a “dog person”. These are just facts.
I actually prefer dogs. They wag their tails when you walk in the room, accompany you on on walks and are generally good-natured when they are loved and cared for.
Cats, on the other hand, want everything on their terms and can, at times, behave as though they really don’t need you. My cat would not like to be taken for a walk and I gave up buying her collars, since she immediately got rid of them (I have yet to figure out how). I spent years disliking cats intensely and still have only warmed up to a few of them. Our cat Skipper has won me over. Even though she is noisy (like the rest of the family) and a bit demanding, she is smart.
You are probably wondering why I think our dog is so dumb. Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, a family had a black cat.
She was happy with her status as the family pet and was not in the least threatened by the parade of fish and reptiles that came and went. She survived the occasional scrape with tomcats and possums and managed to avoid the coyotes. To show her love and appreciation for her family, she regularly left gifts of dead birds, mice and lizards on the back step.
Then this family adopted a cute little beagle from the local animal shelter. That’s when everything changed. From the moment this dog entered their home it was clear that her beagle hunting instincts were very strong. She cornered the cat, chased her down the hall and generally pestered her on a daily basis. The cat, however, ignored the dog as best as she could and avoided her at all costs.
One day, the cat had enough. She was cornered by this pesky dog and took matters into her own paws. With one swipe she left her mark. The dog ran away, yelping in pain. When the owners examined her they realized the cat had hit the bullseye, or the dogseye, as it were. She had scratched her cornea and left an ugly mark. The dog was taken to the emergency room where they said the eye would heal. The vet said, “well, at least now she will leave that cat alone”. For days, she lay shaking in her dog bed, whimpering in pain, while the cat paraded by, inches from her, once again queen of the house.
Slowly the dog began to heal, with daily antibiotics squeezed onto her eye and extra TLC from her owners. Peace ruled the house and the family breathed a sigh of relief.
Now, if the story ended there, that would make sense. The fact is that dog got better and once she got better, you know what she started doing again? Chasing that cat.
Now, if you were bugging me, teasing me incessantly and generally making a nuisance of yourself and I took a stick and poked you in the eye, practically blinding you, would you continue pestering me? I highly doubt it. Well, not our dog Casey. She is truly thick-headed. She has resumed chasing the cat, although I have to admit, the cat doesn’t take her quite as seriously and doesn’t perceive her to be the threat she once was.
On her checkup visit to the vet, I told her how the dog had begun to chase the cat again and she shook her head in disbelief. That is one dumb dog (she didn’t say it, but I know she was thinking it).
When I started thinking about these two beloved pets of ours and their complicated relationship, I realized I’m really not that different. There have been times in my life when I have been poked with a stick in the eye – not literally, but you get the drift. And you know what I did? Went back to doing the same thing I had done before.
This was partcularly true of me as a child and a teenager, but it has persisted into my adult life. Like my kids say, “sometimes I likes to be’s bad!” I do something stupid, suffer the consequences for my behavior (the proverbial stick in the eye) and then turn around and do the same stupid thing over and over and…
It has been a slow journey for me, realizing that I need to change my rebellious ways and learn from the discipline. But the Lord is so patient with me and his mercy is endless. If there’s hope for me, maybe there’s hope for that dog!
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)