I confess I am a real animal lover. Growing up, my dogs were my companions. They slept in my bed, they sat at my feet at dinner and I adored my dogs. I lost my dad in the 6th grade and my dogs comforted me in my sadness and loneliness.
My husband is different. His dogs lived outside. They were working dogs for a farm. The idea of a dog living in the house, let alone sleeping on a bed, was out of the realm of normal for my husband. We have had years of conversations about animals and how they should be treated. Stephen has always struggled with the idea that 36,000 children die everyday of preventable causes, but Americans spend billions of dollars on pets. It seems out of balance. He likes dogs but I would not classify my husband as an animal lover (however he and Lil J.J. seem to be having male bonding).
So why did God give us dogs?
I don’t have all the answers to poverty and the things that are out of balance in this world, but I do know that God has given many people joy in caring for animals. Whether that be horses, dogs, cats, rodents (which I don’t understand), animals bring joy to many households. They provide companionship for the lonely and actually reduce stress for the elderly. They can provide comfort during difficult times and be great exercise partners. To me, animals were a creative gift from God.
My husband and I have settled the animal issues in our home. We have two dogs and one cat. One of our dogs sleeps next to my bed on the floor of our bedroom (a real stretch for my husband). My husband has learned to value the dog because he loves me. He also finds value in the fact that my kids have learned to care and nurture these animals. Each of my girls is take turns for night duty to get up and take the puppy outside. They are feeding the puppy, watching the puppy and playing with the puppy. They actually saved for months to purchase the puppy and all its food. This little guy is definitely a luxury item and my kids are learning to understand that. He has cost each of them their allowance for weeks.
Obviously having animals cost money, and as a pet owner, you are responsible to care for the pet by keeping it nourished, immunized, licensed and in good health. I do think that here in America and Europe, some people go too far with their pet purchases. After all there is designer clothing for animals that cost more than my entire closet, paw wear, hairwear, designer dog crates and beds, designer dog collars and expensive medical procedures. that are excessive when you consider the needs around the world. Check out http://www.funnyfur.com/dogaccessories.aspx if you don’t believe me. Its a bit insane.
The bottom line is I love my animals. I get attached to my fury little friends. I take them to the vet when they are sick and I cry when they die. Their sweet little faces melt my heart. What can I say? But I do know that if it comes down to pets verses people, I need to be about people, and my pocketbook always needs to demonstrate that value.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
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