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.