Many of you know our dog, Max. Max has taught me two things this summer.
The first is the value of the iPhone “portrait” feature. My old phone finally gave up, and when Robbie brought home a new one (shopping for anything plug-in being a Blue Job, chez Berndt), I snapped this:
Max has never looked this good in his life.
(And that is not being unkind. Those who have met Max in person, or seen him in previous blogs, know I speak only the truth. But hey. There is more to life than great hair.)
The second lesson from Max is that good things happen when you decide to be nice.
I am not what you might call a Dog Person. I don’t mind them; in fact, I would go so far as to say that I like most dogs. And that I trust people who have dogs more than people who don’t. But if you invite us over for dinner, Robbie’s the one who will sit on the floor and get your pup’s hair and his breath and his ticks or whatever all over his clothing, not me.
But all of that’s changed in the last 100 days.
101, to be exact.
That’s how long it’s been since Max had surgery to take out his spleen. The docs biopsied whatever was in there, and the news was not good. They gave our guy 18-45 days.
I may not be a dog person, but I was the one who brought Max home as a Christmas morning surprise back in 2007, and I found myself rocked by this verdict. And if Max had three-to-six weeks left to live, I resolved to make them the best weeks of his life.
I bought chewy dog treats.
Took him out for some walks.
I might even have talked baby talk, once in awhile. (Which is not something I ever did for our kids.)
And…I began petting him. Not a lot (because then I would have to get out the Roomba and watch it suck up the hairs, which can take up a lot of my valuable time). But a little. And if Max was surprised, he didn’t show it. He just acted happy.
It’s Day 101 and Max seems healthier–and more active–than ever. Maybe he felt weighed down by that spleen? Maybe he is thrilled with the treats, after 11 years of dry kibble? Maybe all he ever wanted was to go for an actual walk?
I don’t know.
But what I do know is this.
I can’t point to the exact day when it happened, but I find myself LOVING our dog. And doing things I haven’t, before. Things like standing in the pet aisle at the grocery store, wondering whether he likes “salmon and veggie” or “chicken and rice” in his bowl, or what shape (bone? bacon strip? tube?) he prefers for his treats.
I know, I know. Some of you are reading this, and you are aghast. Who among us, you think, doesn’t buy bacon-shaped treats BEFORE it’s almost too late? I get that. Unsubscribe if you must; I won’t judge.
And some of you will wonder what possible lesson or truth I could mine from this story. I will tell you. It’s this:
The nicer you are, the more you will love. I don’t know how it works, exactly, but when you decide to be kind to someone (and I think this works for family members and co-workers, as well as mangy golden retrievers), the more attractive they will appear, and the more you will want to be nice. It’s as if love begets love. And not only will you find yourself giving love; others will start loving you back. (I can’t be positive, but I am pretty sure Max thinks I’m awesome.)
And I can’t help but wonder if it’s that way with God. He is so good to us, and he always has been, covering us in love since the beginning of time. When he looks at us, he doesn’t see all our scabs and our warts and our failings. He just sees the object of his boundless affection. He sees us as lovely.
And as we bask in that love, we are transformed. We love, the Bible says, because he first loved us.
Help me to extend love to ______, and to pray for them even if they come against me. Equip me to love others the way that you have loved me. (Matthew 5:44, John 15:12)
And P.S., Ecclesiastes 9:4 says that “a live dog is better than a dead lion.” I don’t really understand that verse, but I do know that I love my live dog, so if anyone wants to pray for us to enjoy another 100 great days (or more!), we’d be grateful.