Yesterday, August 26th, was National Dog Day across the United States. In all honesty, it is quite a great idea that has found traction with pet owners, particularly dog owners, as a special day to celebrate our four legged friends.
For those of you who don’t know it, National Dog Day was founded in 2004 by Colleen Paige, an advocate for pet ownership through rescue, a conservationist, advocate and founder of several other “holidays” related to animals across the globe. The purpose of the group is to heighten awareness of the plight of animals and find ways to help increase the adoption rate of pets. The date of August 26th has even become the unofficial birthday of countless thousands of dogs whose real birthdays are unknown or forgotten. So, as you can see, August 26th is a day of celebration.
We all know that many dogs are abandoned by owners who purchase pets as presents and then grow tired of the responsibility – or, they get a breed that is beyond their ability to train and/or control with their limited knowledge. Likewise, sometimes their dogs bark too much or shed too much, or eat too much – or even poop too much… You never know how many reasons there are that people get use to justify getting rid of their pets.
Years ago, I was the Vice President of the Humane Society for Hamilton County here in central Indiana. I was responsible for fundraising and hosting the annual event that brought in funds for the care of hundreds of dogs that we provided shelter for. One night, we were getting ready to have a board meeting, after the shelter closed, and members of the board were filing into the office. Suddenly, a man came in with a small black and white dog. I even remember the dog’s name – it was Oreo. His wife and small son were with him. This irate man wanted to surrender the dog, for an unspecified reason, right then and there.
We advised him that the shelter was closed and it would be helpful if he could keep the dog one more evening and surrender Oreo in the morning. Rather than comply, the man pulled a pistol from his belt and threatened to shoot Oreo on the steps of the shelter if we wouldn’t take him – NOW!!! The little boy was terrified – his father was going to shoot the boy’s dog in a moment. The young child turned to his Mom and begged her to intercede – she wouldn’t – I think she was scared also. Obviously, we took Oreo in on the spot and he was quickly adopted by another family where, I am sure, he lived out his years in a loving environment.
That is just one of the many experiences that I had during my time with the Humane Society. But there were positive experiences as well. Like the years that I played Santa Claus and had countless photos taken with children and their dogs during the holidays. Of course, Janet was Santa’s assistant and helped get everyone in the right spot for the best possible picture.
Then there was the time that I was presented with a Doberman puppy in grateful appreciation for all the work I had done throughout the years. “Dad’s Red Mercedes”, who we nicknamed “Sadie” was so small at one week of age that she easily fit into the palm of my hand, with room to spare. Sadie eventually became a large (86 pound) girl who brought terrific joy to our lives. After her passing, Lexie, another rescue, brought us a similar joy for the next 11 years and now we have Hank, a large boy who had been surrendered twice – once in Missouri and once in Illinois – before he joined our family almost three years ago.
We have also had Bobby, Sassy, Nicholas, Ellie, Abbie and Beau. All of them brought joy to our family in one way or another. And that doesn’t even count our childhood dogs or the many cats, fish, gerbils, guinea pigs and other animals that our families have had throughout the years.
But people don’t realize that we have been given a great responsibility to take care of the earth and the animals that live on, above or under the earth – and that includes the lakes, streams, oceans and rivers as well. That’s because God gave Adam the right to name the various beasts that He had created and that means that God gave mankind dominion over His creation. That responsibility is still ours – and we are to protect the earth and all God’s creations. Just as we name our children, we make sacrifices for them while they are under our care. We are to care for our pets in a similar fashion – and that takes time, money and courage…
Tonight’s verse is about God giving dominion to mankind regarding the animals. Moses, the author of Genesis, tells us, during the creation story in Genesis 2:19-20, “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.”
My encouragement tonight is that God wants us to be responsible for His creation – the earth and its inhabitants. My prayer is that we will be thoughtful before taking on the additional task of caring for living beings that can’t take care of themselves. After all, we shouldn’t make promises we can’t keep! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…