Meet Madison. She’s my daughter Alison’s dog, on loan to me until Alison finds a permanent residence. Someone abandoned her in a hotel room (not Alison, the dog), and a friend rescued her and gave her to Alison. The vet promises she’s a Chihuahua. Weighing all of four pounds and resembling a small cat with a baby fox’s head, she has rocked my world. Cuddly, fluttery feelings long dormant have revived. I find myself burying my face in her side, planting long kisses on her neck, and taking frequent snapshots of my “grandchild” (see above).

Last Friday night I found a wrapper from long-lost decon rat poison gel in my office. A wrapper, mind you. I surmised that Maddie had dredged it up from behind the heater grate where it lay in wait of a house mouse. The mouse has since gone to mouse heaven. Now Maddie appeared destined for dog heaven.

But strangely, she wagged and whirled just as friskily as ever, black eyes shining with health. I assumed she hadn’t eaten the gel at all. The next morning found Maddie begging for her morning walk, perky as Katie Couric. I banished my fears until later that day when she excreted an almost iridescent green (not Katie, the dog).
Now I began to search online for the facts of this type of poisoning. I learned that, “it causes death by interfering with the blood clotting mechanism. This leads to spontaneous bleeding. There are no observable signs of poisoning until the dog begins to pass blood in the stool or urine,” which takes several days because they have a certain amount of stored clotting factor. Once depleted, they bleed to death internally.

I could see we were on death row.

A rushed trip to the vet and $180 dollars later, Maddie found herself on prescription vitamin K. She’ll probably be fine but we have a month to wait for certainty.

Concurrent with the dog drama, I was reading Half the Sky by New York Times columnists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I could rattle on about this book, but let me distill: it chronicles the global oppression of women in three primary areas: sex trafficking, sexual violence, and unnecessary maternal death. It’s one of those books that bursts the western affluence-induced bubble and leaves a sensitive soul feeling impelled to sell one’s house and travel to Ethiopia with the proceeds, to die if necessary, but with a clear humanitarian conscience. I read things like: $9 billion a year would provide all effective interventions for maternal and newborn health to 95 percent of the world’s population, which “pales beside the $40 billion the world spends annually on dog food,” (p. 122). So while I spent $180 on my dog, five women in sub-Saharan Africa died in labor because they didn’t have the $40 needed to get a C-section. If left to my own devices, I’m able to torture myself into clinical depression with these kinds of thoughts.

But God’s Word shines a light on world poverty—a brighter light than even the most brilliant humanitarian luminary could shine. The One who will judge each person by what we did for the poor and suffering (Matthew 25) also said, “The poor will be with you always,” (Matthew 26:11). He then praised Mary Magdalene for wasting—humanly speaking–$40 thousand on a bottle of designer perfume, with which she soaked Him, head to toe.
From these compassing, comprehensive, somewhat-colliding facts of the Bible I get a simple message: Do all you can for the poor; but also care for those nearest and dearest with an extravagant, grateful love. Zoom out to take in the big picture, zoom in to attend to the small. Macro and microcosm alike matter to God, and to us when He indwells.

Maddie sits pensively as I write, staring out into the sunny front yard, hoping to spot a squirrel. Me, I’m planning to pour my life savings into the world’s chasm of need. Maybe I will move to Ethiopia someday. Maybe Maddie will come along.

8 thoughts on “Maddie

  1. Christine Reply

    I have read “Half the Sky”. It made me tear up. I wish there was more I could do for those women in such places. I think I need to do something for them soon.

  2. Christine Reply

    I have read “Half the Sky”. It made me tear up. I wish there was more I could do for those women in such places. I think I need to do something for them soon. I am thinking of studying International Development.

  3. Laura Pinyan Reply

    I remember how I was frantic when I realized my pooodle Max had eaten some bread crumbs left near 2 gopher holes. Someone had poisoned the crumbs, and my escapade into treating a poisonsed pet was way more expensive than yours, but he was worth it. Laura

  4. Jennifer Reply

    International development sounds awesome, Christine! Laura, great to hear from you. We have to save our pets, don’t we? I’ll check out your website.

  5. sally atari Reply

    your dog sounds so cute. I too have discovered the joy of a small dog about a year and a half ago when my children decided they could not hear me cry the blues about not having a grand child when I had 3 kids by age 24. they marched me to a puppy store in Ny that specializes in miniature where I found Emma-lee and Charlotte Bronte, two tiny shitzus. I love the way you write, Jen. Very funny and deep like you. I won’t be reading that book. Sounds very upsetting. My fur ball is sitting by me. She has medical insurance ($35 a month) and I don’t. Now that is an injustice. I can afford to buy her insurance which covers all her shots and being fixed and yada yada ya but I’m in the lurch If I fall off my high heals and sprain my ankle.

  6. sally atari Reply

    And by the way, what a joy that you have your own traveling companion and child prodigy … I realize you don’t travel often together but that would be fun for me as I love being with my kids. I wasn’t able to make it to Alison’s concert the night she came to my area. I had a singing commitment and tried to scoot out and go and see her but missed it. I heard from my sister and many friends in this area, south jersey, that it was wonderful, her voice is beautiful and her songs really fun. I borrowed a cd and confirmed, she’s super talented … like you. 🙂

  7. Jennifer Reply

    Nice to hear from you, Sally. Dogs are awesome, as are kids. I love having older kids who become friends. Sounds like you’re having the same delight. I’m also glad to hear you’re still singing. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Cynthia Reply

    I’m reading your blog backwards Jennifer and really enjoying it. Who knew that so many of us boomers were going to end up dedicated to little dogs? I don’t remember my mother’s generation being so smitten, or at least not in our part of Canada. The dogs we had were always farm dogs, outdoor dogs, and as far as I know, no one ever slept with their dogs (horrors!) or carried them around or bought them specially-formulated snacks or delighted in the fact that they could jump into one’s arms. And I’m kind of shocked that we do all of these things with Zoe. And just a little surprised that I am so bonded to her and that she appears to love me. I spent over 25 years as a Social Worker and would have thought that I would surely have ended up doing the more noble things in Ethiopia. Anyhow, good piece Jennifer! I’m going to continue reading and making some comments…
    God bless, Cynthia

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