Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doggie Disappointment

This past weekend, we tried to take our dogs to one of the less busy dog parks in our city. We've found this one works out pretty well for us-- fewer dogs means a better experience overall for everybody, I think. This really stems from one of my dogs' social ineptitude when it comes to greeting other dogs. He's too gung-ho. He wants to great everybody, get right in their faces, and sometimes give them a nice sniff on the butt, or a hump or two. Usually, it's the getting right in another dog's face that doesn't go over too well (and occasionally the un-welcomed humping). Now, I'm no dog body language expert, but when he runs up to another dog and "gets all up in their grill," I really don't think he's being aggressive...just overly excited. Some dogs don't appreciate this excitement and I think they do see it as an attack. Here comes a ~70 pound Australian Shepherd at full speed... I don't blame them for getting a bit up-tight.

Anyhow, this little problem is what led us to going to the less busy doggie park. But this weekend, things didn't work so well. As soon as we got in the park, he ran up to a dog that was either an Irish Setter or a Golden Retriever (it was more red than gold) and it growled, bared teeth and moved away. The owner took notice, but then Jax kinda ran on to pee on something. Round 2 wasn't as good. He decided he wanted to get to know the stranger a bit better and ran after him/her. The dog eventually turned and went off. Prior to this, Jax was not growling or showing teeth, or anything. But when that dog responded as it did, he was on the defensive as well. When he started in with the dog, our other dog, Apollo, a Husky, started in to help protect his brother. The other dog's owner starts yelling at the top of her lungs "STOP IT STOP IT!" and using her little ball thrower to try to separate them. Ryan went in and just grabbed our two, as the second owner of the other dog was yelling "Whose dogs are these?!?" Ryan was right there...we don't leave our dogs unsupervised at the park. The woman ended up yelling, "We're leaving! We're just going to leave!" Thankfully, none of the dogs were hurt--it really didn't get to that point.

Ryan ended up putting our two on a leash and we walked around the park... I wanted to just leave, because I feel if you have to keep your dogs on a leash at the free-reign park, you shouldn't be there in the first place. I feel like such a failure when my boys behave badly at the park...but I get defensive of them as well. I don't like for people to think they are bad or aggressive dogs, or that they are starting fights. They're not the kinds of dogs that start fights...they want to have fun and run around and meet the other dogs. I've decided it just depends upon the chemistry with the other dog that will determine how things go at the park. I know I'm rationalizing, but if another dog can't handle my dog's overt friendliness...don't both dogs have problems? I feel like I've failed my dogs and am a bad dog owner when things happen--but how do you keep a social butterfly from being so social? I wouldn't know how to correct this behavior if I tried. And then there's the problem of him actually learning that other dogs don't like it when you get in their faces... I really doubt that you can hurt this dog...and if you can, he still won't connect the "I'm hurting" feeling with "Oh, maybe I shouldn't do that again" thing...especially in the social setting of the dog park.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Type of Worship I Prefer

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " --Matthew 25:40

Let me say that I'm not writing this to "toot my own horn"--rather, I am writing as a more of a charge to some of the people at my church who disappointed me greatly this weekend, and to show an example of one of the few times where I've actually felt as if I'm doing something for God's glory. This Sunday, I felt as if I were truly worshipping the way that God would have me worship.

As my husband and I were walking into a side entrance (not the main one) of the church building, we saw a homeless man sitting in the windowsill of our building. He had his shoes off, his feet were resting on the ground, his head down, and the open, weeping sores on his grimy feet were glistening in the sun. I commented to Ryan about his feet and how horrible they looked--Ryan didn't have much to say. We weren't the only people who walked through those doors that morning, but I wonder if I was the only one to notice.

It angers me to think back on it. God clearly expects us to take care of people just like this man--so I was wondering, why was nobody reaching out to help him? I know some people didn't see him because they used different entrances into the church, fine...but what went through the heads of those who walked by?
  • Were they condemning, thinking "That guy's probably a homeless drunk--look at him here waiting for a handout! He's making our church look bad-maybe we should call the police to run him off."
  • Were they more worried about themselves, considering "Oh, well, I guess I could help him, but I might get my clothes or the church dirty if I brought him inside."
  • Maybe they were sympathetic, wishing "If I only knew what to do for him, I would do something...but I don't think I have the skills. Poor guy..."

I don't know which of the above applied, but honestly, I think that had a dog or cat been sitting outside in such shape, somebody would have given it attention immediately. I don't know what it is about people that we are less forgiving and less willing to help out. Perhaps it's that we think that people have done something to deserve what they get, or that they can help themselves out of situations. And I'll admit... I'm guilty of these thoughts many times.

Regardless, this man needed help, and I couldn't very well go and claim to worship God while this man was sitting outside suffering. Some people believe that Jesus or angels present themselves as people in trouble needing help...I don't know if I believe in all of that, but I certainly knew that God was watching me and honestly, I think He was testing me. I went inside, sat my things down, and went to the First Aid room we have (yep, we have one!) to see what supplies were available. I felt we had enough to be able to bandage the man up, so I went outside in tears and introduced myself and offered to clean his feet for him. By this point, I was trying to not bawl-- my pregnancy hormones + frustration + compassion for this man were coming out of my tear ducts.

He said he just needed some socks because his shoes had been rubbing places on his feet, but he would be ok with getting them bandaged up. I brought him into the church, sat him down, and talked to him for a bit. His name was Roger, he was originally from Mt. Sterling, but had been put in a psychiatric hospital in town for 2 months and then I guess just discharged to the streets...he had been in our city since December, and he'd never been homeless before. He said he used to have some good Red Wing boots that didn't bother his feet, but that somebody took them, and he was left with cheap shoes and no socks.

I soon did get some help from other people at the church--one guy was a paramedic, he got me some soapy water and towels. One lady who is a nurse helped bandage his feet with me...and one of the assistant ministers went and got him a few things that would be helpful on the streets, including some other shoes, some gift cards to fast food places, and some socks. And then there were the few who poked their heads in, kinda said hello, and disappeared into the not so dirty, stinky, unpleasant, and real areas of the church--back to greeting those in suits and dresses I guess.

As we left church that day, I saw Roger back out on the sidewalk--he had said he figured he'd sit out there for a while--he didn't know what he was going to do that day. As it rained that evening, I thought of him, hoping he'd found at least a small patch to stay dry in.

Lessson Learned--God gives us opportunities to show our love for Him all the time, we just have to look around us and accept those opportunities. He might even want us to be uncomfortable or get dirty every now and then.

What it's Worth--Knowing that what I did wasn't just for that man, or for me...it was for Jesus.