“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.”–Romans 12:2

Ralph, our 8-month old border collie-Boston terrier cross (see personal note at end of post), is in dog boot camp this week.  An unfortunate crossing of paths with a skunk, continued stalking of the cats, and just pure, unfettered dog-edness landed Ralph on a short leash undergoing intensive training in “sit”, “lie down”, and “leave the cats alone”.

Ralph isn’t a bad dog.  In a proper setting, he and his father, Bandit, would be gifted cattle dogs.  On our farm, the dogs keep skunks, raccoons and possum away from the yard, as well as alerting us when visitors drive in.  (Bandit and Ralph are far too friendly to protect us from the two-legged versions of skunk and possum, however.)

In his letter to the Romans, Paul urges fellow Christians to develop their spiritual gifts for use by God and the good of the community.  Without putting ourselves on a short leash to direct the gifts God gives us, Paul knew people are prone to surrender themselves to pure, unfettered dog-edness.  We attack other people just because they’re different than us. We pursue our own interests and wind up with a bad aura hovering over us. (Tomato juice can’t wash away a reputation of dishonesty and self-centeredness.)

While certain breeds of dogs are known for certain characteristics, the usefulness of the individual dog depends on its training.  Pit bulls, for instance, can be a menace in the neighborhood, or highly effective search and rescue and police dogs.  

Paul encouraged the Romans to “not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment . . . for as in one body we have many members and not all the members have the same function.”  We need to recognize our dog-edness, and seek God’s purpose for good use of the traits God created within us.

Personal Note: We didn’t chose to own two dogs.  Last summer someone abandoned (dumped!) a Boston terrier female in the country, who unbeknownst to us took up residency in our barn.  A tryst between her and Bandit resulted in five puppies, four of which we were able to place in good homes. The boys became attached to Ralph, so he became a permanent member of the family (despite my protests that no one would have dogs and children if it weren’t for puppies and babies.)

Dog dumping is a regular occurrence out here in the country.  I suspect that once a puppy isn’t so cute–or becomes a major nuisance–owners believe in some twisted way that turning them loose in the country is more humane than euthanasia, and certainly cheaper and less of a hassle than finding them a new home or taking them to an animal shelter. If you have ever done this SHAME ON YOU (I’m shaking my finger at you as I say this).