Editor’s Corner: Lessons from dog

By Amy Forbus I began taking in foster dogs when we lived in Texas, pulling them out of animal shelters to keep them from being euthanized. Some would find permanent homes with friends of ours; others would transition to a rescue group’s care while they waited for an adopter. Since we began fostering here in Arkansas, we’ve developed a great relationship with our foster liaison (who, we soon learned, is an active United Methodist). She spends a lot of time connecting individual dogs with the help they need. The dogs we’ve fostered have moved on to the rescue groups that sponsored their care, and several have been adopted. Most of these four-footed guests coexist peacefully with our existing pack of two dogs before moving on to their next stop, perhaps a week later. They’re healthy, with few behavior issues. But then there are others. Our current foster dog, Starbuck, came with a major challenge. He had a broken leg—likely from being hit by a car before the city picked him up as a stray. After diagnosis, pain medications and consultation, his rescue group paid for surgery to remove the top of his femur. Team Forbus agreed to care for him while he recovered. Starbuck provides a living example of the maxim, “Sometimes we don’t know what’s good for us.” He has to have physical therapy multiple times a day so his leg will have the range of motion it needs. He doesn’t like it. He whines and squeals in protest. He writhes around and tries to use his teeth to tell us to stop. And he tries to protect his healing leg by not putting any weight on it. If he doesn’t re-learn how to use it now, though, it will give him problems for the rest of his life. You can’t reason with a dog about this type of thing (or much of anything, for that matter). All you can do is pull back on the leash and force him to take things more slowly than he’d prefer. These behaviors seem sensible in Starbuck’s way of thinking. He acts out of self-preservation and the instinct to have fun. He doesn’t understand that the work we’re making him do will lead to healing. How often do we humans miss the same message? Do we complain and resist situations in which God is working for good, just because we can’t envision the outcome? When Starbuck resists what’s best for him, I remind myself that I can see a long view that he cannot. I praise him for hanging in there. And I’m reminded that God works with a far longer view in mind than any of us can fathom. “We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28 (CEB) To reach me, send an email to aforbus@arumc.org.