Chaplain’s thoughts …

Comprehensive Airmen Fitness — lessons from Fido

I have a confession to make. I am not an animal lover. I am really more of an “animal tolerater,” to coin a phrase. Oh sure, I have fond memories from childhood of Barron our dachshund, Lady our collie, and Littlebit the mutt-puppy I found and carried home when I was 11. We even had a few cats, including Mopsey, our ginormous feline, that stalked the neighborhood for rodents and brought them home as a token of her love. Each of these pets, and a host of wild critters, were a significant part of my growth and development as a child.

But, as a child, I didn’t know anything about the cost of caring for a pet. I knew nothing about vet bills or the price of dog food. I didn’t understand it when dad blew his stack when our dog gnawed on the dining room table leg, but I understand now how hard he worked to provide for us. Of course, I knew nothing about international travel with pets; but thanks to the Air Force, I know ALL about that now. Please, don’t get me going on the ransom I must pay every time I take leave and have to book my doggie into the local pet spa.

Perhaps you are sensing some frustration, and I’m sure I should talk with someone about this. I’m just trying to find a way to say, “Sorry son, we’d love to send you to college, but we spent your college fund on the dog.”

Struggles notwithstanding, I have learned a few lessons from Lucy, our 14-year-old cocker spaniel.

Unconditional love: Dogs do it better than humans. Dogs don’t weigh out their love on a scale, they just get happy every time you come home. You don’t even have to be an animal lover for your dog to think you are the best thing since sliced bread.

Forgiveness: Yes, I’m anthropomorphizing, dogs likely have little understanding of forgiveness, yet they put up with their humans very well, even when we are unkind or short-tempered. Admit it, we’ve all yelled at the dog, or worse, and the pooch keeps coming back as our best friend and loyal defender.

Joyful exuberance: Dogs get excited about the everyday aspects of life, like mealtime, outdoor time, road trips or treats. Their joy and excitement is comical and contagious.

Just a thought … perhaps we could be more doglike and learn to love, forgive and rejoice over the people and things that come our way.

Thanks for your service and sacrifice.

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