Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The Perils of Loving a Tomato Picking Dog
My dog picks tomatoes.
I wish I were joking but I'm not.
The first time we found a tomato on our bedroom floor, pocked with doggy teeth marks, we were such proud parents. Did you see what Our Smart Doggy did? He even picked a ripe one! What an amazing pooch, copying us like that!
As we gushed on about his intelligence, Tanner just ducked his head in embarrassment, the same way he does when we catch him stealing crackers off the counter, or when we discover he's spent the afternoon hiding out with a highlighter, turning his entire snout day-glo yellow. He stared at the ground and scratched a paw at the floor, as if to say, "Who, me?"
But as the summer progressed and the tomatoes grew even more delicious and fewer in number, I began to get annoyed. Tomatoes began showing up daily in random places in my house. Another tomato ruined? I began to resent all the Resolve I had to spray when Slobber Dog lost self control and mauled his homemade spaghetti sauce all over the carpet.
This resentment felt faintly familiar.
I pondered it a moment and a light bulb flashed. Yes! This was just like the time he learned to open doors with his doggy paws! We were so proud, at first. That dog had watched us and copied the flick of our hands on the french doors. Wasn't that amazing? We clapped and petted and invited neighbors over to watch. We even took video and posted it on youtube. But then he started letting himself in during a dinner party, grinning at us and waiting for applause. What happened, he seemed to say as I locked him in the den. Why doesn't Mommy let me climb my 90 pound body onto the people's laps? They love me! Everyone does!
I had to feel a little sorry for Slobber Dog. He was just doing what comes naturally.
Yes, Tanner is a master copier. When anybody hugs, he'll cry and bark until we help him stand on his hind legs and join in. (Yes I know, it's a little silly looking. Don't tell anyone.) And that's not the worst of it. We have to keep him inside whenever Todd has to plant anything or else that dog will follow at his heels, digging polka dot holes all over our backyard.
We even planted our tomatoes on an old coffee table, just to keep Tanner out of the dirt.
So how does he pick them? I am still trying to figure it out.
He's a different species, obviously, with no nimble fingers to grasp the fruit, to twist it gently until it falls into his palm. I'm guessing he adapts by using what God gave him, those yards of flexible jowling made for cradling birds, the extra facial skin my middle child calls his glibber.
I've hidden outside with the video camera, hoping to get the heist on tape, but no such luck. I just get hot and sweaty and attacked by bugs, while Tanner stays cool in the AC and watches me from the window. Smart dog.
I guess that's the danger inherent in our natural tendency to imitate. I see it in my kids as well. They may copy my friendliness with the grocery store clerk, but they'll also copy what I say when somebody cuts me off in traffic.
And it's no different with grown ups, I'm afraid.
I'll hang out with my friend Susie, and before you know it I'll have picked up the generous way she listens, making you feel like you're the most important person in the world. Suddenly I've picked up "Hugs to you," typing in her sign off as if I thought of it myself.
But then I'll spend a few moments around negativity, and I'll hear it coming out of my own mouth. What? I didn't want to copy that!
Negativity has no part of the imitation I want to live. I'm a Christian, literally a "little Christ." (Now that's a daunting title, don't you think?! It makes me want to stay locked in the house with my mouth taped shut! ) I want to do what Ephesians instructs:
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Live a life of love.
It seems impossible, too big, too ambitious in this world. God is a different species of being. God is so much bigger and greater and full of love than anything I can think of. I'm puny and small and human and weak. I can try my best, but how can I even come close to imitating God?
I can use what God gave me: God in human form, Jesus, the living example. I can study Christ's life and do my best to imitate His love. I can pray for help. And when I fail in my journey, I can cling to grace and try again.
Now, if I can just share the love with my tomato stealing dog. Maybe a short fence around the coffee table garden? As if it doesn't look ridiculous enough!
What helps you in your journey to imitate The One?
And while you're at it, any ideas on tomato crime prevention?
Have a great Wednesday, y'all!
PS. Here's the video of Tanner showing off. And just so you know, I don't usually talk like a high pitched Snow White. It's my mommy's-got-a-treat-for-you voice. Enjoy!