It seems that I'm not the only one who sees lessons to be learned, or at least observed, in our canine companions. The other day on this blog I just wanted to draw attention to the humorous and fascinating antics of my canine companions, Porthos & Gimli, and now Dr. Gene Veith is beginning a discussion of "Dog Morality" over on his blog.
I do find it amazing how dogs can and do teach us about ourselves, beyond simply being "man's best friend" (after wife and children, of course - let's keep all of the alphas and betas in the proper order now! :-).
After all, Jesus' comment to the canine-like - er, Canaanite - woman in Matthew 15:21-28 led her to admit that she would gladly identify herself with a crumb-crunching little pooch as long as she and her demon-possessed daughter could receive the Lord's gifts of healing, mercy, and life.
And wasn't it C. S. Lewis who compared our relationship with God to that of our dogs to us? If I remember the analogy correctly (I'm forgetting the source off hand, and I'm always glad to be corrected if I'm getting this wrong), we somehow relate to God as our dogs relate to us--certainly of a different essence/being than our Master, but nonetheless glad to be part of His family by His choosing, all the while eager to jump up on the couch to curl up next to Him. (Okay, so I'm paraphrasing, and from memory to boot, and illustrations and analogies certainly have their limits! :-)
What does strike me about our canine companions is how they can and do model faith and faithfulness for us. As I've often seen in my pooch-pals (Porthos & Gimli now and their "big brother" Shadow before them), they can get into trouble and experience my disapproval, scorn and wrath (yes, sometimes more severely than others), but they just keep coming back to greet me, wag their tails, and give their happy, bright-eyed, ears slightly back looks as if to say, "Master, we are always and ever so glad to see you!"
Just as the Canaanite (canine-ite?) woman showed in Matthew 15, faith in and faithfulness toward Jesus Christ means clinging to Him no matter how we are treated, seemingly by Him or certainly by others around us, or what we experience in terms of rudeness, rejection, and so on, and no matter what our sins truly deserve. "Yes, Lord, yet even the [little] dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table" (Matthew 15:27)! Yes, Lord, I will gladly identify myself as your "little pup" and I will gladly receive the crumbs of Your mercy - crumbs of Gospel words and little kibbles of Sacramental "forgiveness, life, and salvation" that come from your Table!
And just think of this: those little crumbs just keep coming, week in and week out, from the Lord's words and His holy Meal. But one day, on the Last Day, instead of those little crumbs that sustain us now we will receive the delightfully full plate of goodies that our Master drops before us for all eternity!