I believe that in the eyes of a dog I see God.
If you know dogs, this is not sacrilege. You won’t shout, “Blasphemy!” If you don’t know dogs, fortunately, God is as forgiving. And perhaps, in another life, you will be so blessed.
My old dog looks at me now with eyes that are growing distant. He’s fourteen, and I know my time of learning from him is breathtakingly short.
Throughout his life, those eyes saw fun. They saw joy and mischief with an innocence no human can attain. The eyes of a human possess a knowledge of self, of ego. But not a dog.
I believe this old dog, whose every step is an effort right now, showed me the divine. “How?” say the deprived. How could a dog point to heaven? Well, I answer, does an angel waste a moment on worry? Don’t angels revel in the beauty of today? Does God love me for all of my imperfections, all of my slights, and in spite of my atrocious inattention?
My old dog is an example. In his prime, my old dog hunted with purpose, without agenda, by instinct. He was without deliberation when he killed. I believe that if God gave me the privilege of being able to think about killing, with that privilege came the responsibility of not. Of finding ways to work things out.
My old dog’s eyes showed me godly love and forgiveness. I wonder about humans who chain their dogs in the back yard. Or worse. There is so much worse. In spite of unspeakable cruelty and neglect, a dog will still love her human. Dogs don’t confuse love and trust.
In those eyes I believe I can see a God who loves humans who kill each other for what? Oil? Power? Revenge? Wealth? Humans who leave Him all the time, and use His name to justify, or excuse, their wars. We come home to Him and He still welcomes us. Humans are incapable of such love. Dogs and God.
My old dog has slept in my bedroom all of his life, so why should I worry about all those dogs chained in backyards? Because God sent me my old dog so I would know better? Because He created me: this soul who was born loving the creatures He made first? I look into the eyes of my old dog, and I see that God.
How do I see all of this in my old dog’s eyes? I believe that because I look with my heart, and I listen with my soul, it is all there, in my old dog’s eyes.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.