March 22, 2013

Reflection / Steve Seitz

Lessons from a basset hound

Driving away from the kennel one chilly, recent day, a “close moment with Christ,” as those moments are known to fellow Cursillistas, was the furthest thing from my mind.

That is partially due to the fact that very close to mind—and my sense of smell—was our dog, the basset hound, who has allowed me, her “co-master,” to serve her these past nine-plus years. I should briefly explain that my partner in this “co-mastership” is my youngest son, who named this creature before she was even a sparkle in her father’s eye. That will be a significant fact momentarily, so please stick with me.

Now, as it often happens, I somehow became the primary caretaker of the dog some years back. That was solidified when Eric, our son, moved off to college. My fate was sealed at that moment.

The dog’s name is Domino.

Believe me, no religious implications were ever intended. Indeed, there were no intended implications in the choice of her name, but when that name was chosen, more than 10 years ago, I am sure that God was fully aware that he would use this short, flop-eared, bloodshot-eyed creature to teach me, a particularly stubborn student, some important lessons.

He knew that he would, through this creature, instruct me in patience. She obeys at her convenience. He knew she would also teach me humility as I stooped to pick up after her as I say hello to the neighbors. He knew she would teach me his love.

This particular lesson came as I drove away from the kennel that day with Domino pacing back and forth across the back seat. She was notably fragrant that day, as I had opted against a bath prior to her pick up. Live and learn.

As I drove, I planned when I might have an opportunity to vacuum the back seat. Her hair seems to grow and shed before my eyes, and the black upholstery of the car is a magnet for it. When would I have time to clean the nose prints off the back windows? Can’t she just lie down?

Why do I do this? As I sat there in traffic, I thought of that evening when Eric declared that he had “selected the name Domino for the basset hound” that we had promised to get him. I realized that at that time—when she was no more than a name to me, and it was all so perfect, so tidy and odor-free—it seemed like a dream.

Then it hit me.

There was a time, let’s say “some number of years ago,” when I was no more than a name—a name known only to God at that time. The difference is he had no need of idyllic dreams of my existence. No, he knew every detail of every moment of my life. He knew everything!

He knew every half-truth, every full lie. He knew all of it, even (especially?) those things that I wish I did not even know about myself. And yet …

Did he change his mind? Did he say, “Well, maybe not that one.”

No, rather, he came into this place in a body like mine. He lived this life to feel what I feel, to hurt like I hurt. He came to show me that his love is real and true, and larger than anything this world can throw at it.

He came to show me the way home.

He came because he loves me. He loves you. All of us!

Having just been the catalyst for this remarkable revelation, Domino got an extra Milkbone and, her favorite, a slice of cheese when we got home.

(Steve Seitz is a member of St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese.)

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