I have grown up with animals. My parents had two dogs when I was born. When I left a year ago to come on my mission we had two dogs, a cat, a cockatiel, an aquarium with fish, and chickens and ducks. I understand my parents have also recently gotten another dog. As I think back on the pets we have had many memories come to my mind, mostly of our dogs.
Dogs are typified as being loyal. I remember our dogs chewing up the sprinkler system at our house, eating the fruit off of our trees, the accidents in the house training them, but being able to later clean the messes outside. I remember them jumping on me with muddy paws, chasing them when they chased other random animals, bathing them after they were sprayed by a skunk, and countless other memories.
I remember one instance not long after we had gotten some baby chickens. I was not present, but my Mom related the story to me later. She had taken some of the younger children who she tutored outside to see the baby chickens in the yard. The cage my dad created was constructed by some free standing chicken wire stretched out into a circle. It had been sufficient to hold the chickens in, but had been quite easily smashed down by our dogs. Counting the chickens only 4 of the 5 were accounted for. At this time my Mom became aware of our dog Copper (above) barking furiously at our dog Cami (below). Cami was chewing on one of the chickens, but had not seen fit to kill it yet . . . I think she liked the fluffy squeak toy. My Mom implored for my brothers help, who was painting the house at the time. My brother Chad came over to survey the situation. Upon looking at the sorry state of the chicken Chad took the hatchet from his tool belt and with a deft blow beheaded the bird in front of my Mom and her two younger students. This was certainly a unique experience for the two students coming to see the baby chickens.
We have had such loyal dogs :). Despite the faults they have, the cost, the mess, and stress I feel the dogs we have had have provided a sense of stability in my life. They have been there to share in the excitement, and the sadness, in the joy and the tears. They provide a sense of support and comfort. They are there to listen and love when everyone else seems to be against us. Whether we are hurt from our own selfishness or others, they are always there.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that when you spell dog backwards you get God. Just like the dogs I have had in my life, I feel God is also there to share in our triumphs, and sorrow at our defeats. Unlike a dog, our Heavenly Father takes no maintenance from us; it is in fact just the opposite. We read in scriptures He “is preserving [us] from day to day by lending us breath, that [we] may live . . . even supporting [us] from one moment to another.” I know our Heavenly Father is there to love us no matter what we do. Many of the mistakes we make may seem fun for a moment, and we may not be able to see the consequences. Just like I am sure our dogs were unaware of the end result from chasing a skunk. Elder Howden talks about how we need to learn to face our problems in his recent post "Flight from the Gaping Jaws of German Shepherds." I know as often as we make mistakes, and no matter what we do, our Heavenly Father will always be there to forgive us and help us move on.