Lucky and the Old Testament - 2008-07-07 06:08
Lucky the Dog
Lucky was an Old Testament dog. For him Deuteronomy wasn’t just a book in the bible—it was his job.
He was a dog of sorrows, doomed to internal suffering as he wandered the earth with thorns in his ears, always watched over by a punishing god eager to correct slights with massive retributions.
And, as it turned out, he was pretty sure that I was that God.
We picked up Lucky at the SPCA shortly before Christmas. My girls had been fighting for a pet and I had given in to them at last. The name on the cage was Tito, and he was a baby Terrier-Schnauzer mix. He snarled and whimpered at the same time, and wallowed in poop as he fought being taken out of the cage.
My kids fell in love with him on sight, though I had some reservations. We changed his name before we left the pound.
He was skittish and high-strung when we got him home, and he clearly had an attention problem—not a deficit so much as confusion. He was able to focus, but with an inability to aim that focus.
Except when he saw me.
He only looked at me from the corners of his eyes, and if he saw any reaction from me his response was immediate and unequivocal—shoulders dropped, tail between legs, head down. It was if he knew that he was flawed to the core of his being-- that he was helpless, and that it was hopeless, and I was the all-seeing eye of doom.
A lot of pressure on me, to be honest.
This fear made it hard to teach him anything. My every look made him start the cycle of punishment—no infraction had weight, no discipline had merit. Lucky had no attachment to the arrow of time—that connection between consequence and behavior.
He was a biblical doggy Job; unreasonable, arbitrary things were done to him. He was a meaty puppet jerked and animated by unseen strings. I think he used preemptive punishments as his only way of controlling anything.
Lucky never outgrew his fear and awe of me. He continued the rest of his life to act as if he were defective and unworthy. His only redemption came through the act of giving and receiving love.
He loved my girls and gave his all to them. He was happy when with them, but only with them. He slept with my oldest daughter every day of his life. He waited at the door, with his tail wagging, for them to some home from school. He loved them both without any conditions.
And they loved him as well. They bathed him, trimmed him and cleaned up after him. They goofed off with him and hugged him. They accepted all of his furry mental problems without any question—they accepted him exactly the way he was.
Lucky died at seven years of age after suffering for a day with massive rectal bleeding. His whole family, and that’s what we were, suffered with him and comforted him as best we could. He groaned and left us in my oldest daughter’s arms- in pain and in love.And I think it all worked out for him exactly the way he expected. Except for the love thing—that grace was an unexpected gift from a God he was always afraid to look at.