Oct 042012

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'”

Genesis 1:26-27

We have beautiful comical reddish/brown squirrels in my neighborhood. They travel the overhead lines like little acrobats, frequently breakfasting at my bird feeder.

Earlier this week, a friend called to report an injured squirrel in her yard.

When I was a little girl, Dad taught me that helping suffering/dying creatures is part of exercising our dominion over creation. I remember once we were walking the dirt lane by the little dam on Center Lake, and came across a painted turtle that had been partially crushed by a car. Gently, and with the utmost respect and solemnity, he explained that the turtle was suffering and could not survive with such damage. He told me that creatures depend on us sometimes to end their suffering. Once he was sure I understood through my tears, he swiftly fulfilled the duty of dispatch dominion.

That was on my mind as I drove the half mile to my friend’s, with ax and gloves in the trunk.

We stood a good long time evaluating the critter’s condition. There was no blood or visible damage, but he was breathing very fast and shallow, moving only infrequently and without proper coordination, and he had been crying.

Then something happened that I’ve never seen before.

Two other squirrels, one small and young like this one, and a larger older female, took turns visiting the injured fellow, then slowly approaching us, coming within a foot or less, sometimes standing on back legs, looking intently at us, then running back to him. At first I backed away, fearing maybe they were guarding the injured one.

This happened several times, until eventually I realized they might actually be pleading with us to take action.

With that possibility in mind, and having satisfied ourselves of his desperate condition, we stepped up to our responsibility.

“You have made him (man) to have dominion over the works of Your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen – even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.”

Psalm 8:6-7

As similar, and sometimes apparently merciful, as it might seem, I do not support euthanizing humans or aborting less-than-perfect fetuses. Scripture is clear that dispatch dominion ends at the bright border of humanity, except for the limited sphere of government-controlled capital punishment. We are created in God’s image and our times are in His hands. He gives the breath of life, and it is solely His prerogative to take it back again.

Oh how I cried after burying that furry little fellow. Death hurts the dying and the living. But I took consolation in having fulfilled my calling as a thinking Christian woman by helping my fellow creature in his hour of need and exercising one important aspect of creation dominion.

© 2012 Melody K. Anderson
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Feb 012012

My dear old boxer friend Max died this afternoon. He lived a good long life and entered the big sleep gently and with dignity. Several weeks ago, a friend encouraged me to ponder the lessons God has been teaching through this great companion, which continues to be a God-glorifying exercise. Here now, for your consideration, is a sampling of:

Lessons Learned with Mr. Max

“Look to the animals, and they will teach you…” Job 12:7

  1. Be willing to lay your life down for your friends
  2. Communicate, even if it means tipping over your toy box
  3. Know your job and do it. Stay focused
  4. Choose friends wisely. Pour your life into a few select souls
  5. Greet loved ones enthusiastically
  6. Walk guests to the gate
  7. Growl before you bark
  8. Don’t beg
  9. Learn and honor others’ boundaries
  10. Open your heart to the love around you
  11. If you have a choice between drinking from your bowl, or the pond, choose the pond
  12. Some of the best communications have no words
  13. Accept and embrace others with your eyes
  14. Find out where the doggie door is and learn to use it
  15. Home is where your loved one’s are
  16. Just when you think you’ve reached the end, there might be more.
  17. Lose yourself for awhile in something wholesome you enjoy
  18. Don’t jump on people
  19. Get out in the sun at least 10 minutes every day
  20. Don’t try to force others to do what you want, even if you can
  21. Respect authority; rest in it.
  22. Be ready to play at a moment’s notice
  23. Sit. Staaaayyyy. Love waits patiently
  24. Take a nap when you need one
  25. On a leash, you’re free from the pressure of deciding where to go
  26. Cats are more fun to chase than to catch
  27. Ask for what you want, then be grateful for what you get
  28. Be content to stay in your own yard
  29. Never give up. Defy the odds
  30. When you’re happy, wag all over

On this occasion, as possibly less of a thinking Christian woman, and more of a grieving Christian woman, I’ve taken the liberty of modifying a poem called The Last Battle, and am dedicating it to Mr. Max, in case it might help someone else with a terminally ill pet.

With Love and Thanks

If it should be that I grow weak, too tired to play, too pained to sleep, then you will do what must be done, I’m trusting you, you are the one.

You’ll be sad I understand, but don’t let grief restrain your hand, for on this day, more than the rest, I need your love to stand the test.

We’ve had so many happy years, I understand your aching tears, but don’t ask me to suffer so, just please, do this and help me go.

Take me where my needs they’ll tend, and stay with me until the end. Your scent, your sound, your eyes, your touch will comfort me so very much.

Please hold me firm and speak to me, until my eyes no longer see. I know in time that you’ll agree, it’s one more kindness that you’ve done for me.

Although my tail has waved its last, all pain and suffering now is past. Great Master, I pray her soul You’ll lift – good life, good death such precious gifts.

Don’t grieve too much it fell to you, this sad and painful thing to do; we’ve been so close these many years, my love and thanks flow with your tears.

© 2012 Melody K. Anderson
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Jan 232012

There’s a pet store in my neighborhood whose proprietors appear to have chosen a lifestyle I don’t agree with. I never felt comfortable there, so for many years did business elsewhere.

After my dog was attacked (see Bitten by the postal carrier’s dog) and refused food (and therefore heart meds), I found myself stopping in for something to spark his interest.

One clerk in particular went out of his way to suggest treats and food like canned turkey and canned pumpkin, opening packages and giving me free samples of dehydrated food and tasty bits to offer. As a direct result of this extravagant kindness, my dog started eating.

In recognition of such exemplary service, I dropped off a coffee house gift card with a note:

Dear Ray,

Thanks so much for your kind compassion when I came in looking for things that my sick old dog Max (who, on top of everything, had been bitten by a loose dog) would eat.

He’s doing much better now, by the way.

It’s so rare to find merchants who are so genuinely concerned and motivated to help.

The Good Book says, “A righteous man regards the life of his animal…” (Proverb 12:10) thanks for helping me do that for Max!

God bless!

I wasn’t sure about including scripture, not wanting to offend, but in the end felt led to do it. Imagine my surprise returning to the store a week or so later, and seeing the note displayed on a pillar right by the register for all to see!

In that moment, as a thinking Christian woman, I realized I had vastly underestimated the spiritual sensibilities of these shopkeepers. They had embodied the spirit of Proverb 12:10 so much that they were willing to display it in their store! What a treat to be surprised by such a display of righteousness. Glory to God!

© 2012 Melody K. Anderson
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Jun 212011

Do you like rats?

What a question! Of course many people keep rats as pets, and I understand they can be very sweet, but probably the majority of people have them solidly on their disfavored list.

My grandpa’s sister, Ida, was bitten on the lip by a rat when the Jones family was living in a sod house on the Nebraska prairie as homesteaders. One night Ida thought she was hugging her dolly in bed. Apparently wild rats don’t like to be hugged by little girls!

Back to the present, I’m currently on an active vector control campaign, using strategically placed Rat Zappers to patrol the deck near the bird feeder. Caught #26 last night (we’ve been at it for about a year). Southern California weather is idyllic, that’s a fact, but it attracts more than just tourists!

Imagine my surprise at finding a rat, apparently dead, in the laundry room Saturday morning, directly under my next footfall. A rat in the house! Oh, that is the absolute worst! On closer examination, it was not dead but clearly breathing and looking at me with fearful, plaintive brown eyes. I’ll spare you the actual image, knowing how distasteful even a picture of a rat might be to some. The little guy’s head was stuck between the washing machine and the threshold. I really thought that wild critters had better sense.

What to do? Put on thick leather gloves, took him by the body, and gently worked his head free. So there I was, holding a rat. Now what to do?!

Thought about just tossing him in the Rat Zapper and ending it quickly, but that seemed so proactively violent. No, that wouldn’t do.

So I put him in the flower bed and expected him to scamper off, but he just laid there. Stunned, exhausted, injured, I didn’t know. Asked several people for advice, including my wildlife knowledgeable brother, and finally decided if the rodent was still there after 2 hours, I would dispatch him mercifully.

At the appointed time of execution, I laid him out on the ground and raised the shovel. Oh those brown eyes and long whiskers! Twice I raised the shovel, but just couldn’t do it, so I put the shovel down and offered the condemned some water, which he drank and drank.

Put him back in the flower bed, covered him with leaves, and decided to let God and nature take it from there. After 4 hours I gave him more water. By the next day, there was no sign of the perp. I wish I’d marked his ear or something so I could recognize him if he ever ended up in the Zapper. I still hope he perishes, just not directly at my hand.

Practical justice dictated death for the trespasser. Compassionate mercy prevailed.

The Thinking Christian Woman can discern between justice and mercy, administering each, in its time, in love, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
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