A Dog’s Life . . .

Both my dogs are having identity crises. Ginger is an outside dog who thinks she’s an inside dog. C.J. is an inside dog who thinks he’s an outside dog.

Let me explain. Ginger is supposed to be a full-blooded Basset hound. We have our doubts about the full-blooded part. She’s just about the sweetest dog you’ll ever meet. We got her to be a watchdog of sorts, and she’s doing a great job. I haven’t seen any lions or tigers or polar bears around our house in ages.

She’s short and squatty and way too fat, which only adds to her charm. She has the gentlest, milk-chocolate eyes you’ve ever seen, and the fact that she weighs just shy of a ton won’t stop her from crawling right up in your lap and licking you all over your face. I’m pretty sure this is her go-to security technique, and why no large beasts have graced our property. If in-your-face cuddles aren’t your thing, she can be terrifying.

Then there’s C.J. (Christopher James or Charis Junior, depending on which member of our family you ask.) He’s 100% miniature poodle. I got him because I wanted a lap dog. (I suffered a memory lapse and forgot I already had Ginger.) C.J. is curly and white with a touch of apricot, and he’s adorable as long as he’s sitting still — which is almost never. Living with C.J. is like living with Winnie-the-Pooh’s Tigger on a sugar high.

Every time I open the door to let C.J. outside, he shoots like a bullet into the wide expanse of land at the back of our property. At the same time, Ginger sits at my feet and begs me to hold her. So if I go after C.J., I feel like a terrible dog mom for ignoring Ginger in her time of need. And if I sit down and cuddle Ginger, I feel like a terrible dog mom because whenever C.J. does find his way home, he’s covered in briars and sticker burrs that won’t come out of his course fur.

They sit at opposite sides of the front door, whining, all the time. Ginger wants to live inside. C.J. wants to live outside. Each envies the other, and thinks life would be ideal if only . . .

In C.J’s mind, Ginger has the perfect life. She gets to romp and roam and hunt and live the dream in the great outdoors. In Ginger’s mind, C.J. has the perfect life. He gets to relax in the luxury of air conditioning and soft, plush sofas, and he gets to cuddle Mom any time he wants. The truth is, both have great lives. They are well fed and cared for and extremely loved. Even Ginger, the “outside” dog, has a soft bed and a doggy door in the garage, and we put a fan out there in the summer and a heater in the winter. When it comes to a dog’s life, they are both blessed, just in different ways.

It would be easy for me to condemn their lack of contentedness, except for one thing. I’m not any better than they are.

I look at my friends’ lives all the time and wish I had it as great. Everywhere I turn, I see someone with a nicer car or a fancier house, or who gets to travel extensively, or who’s prettier or skinnier or who has a more exciting job, a more successful career. I want what they have, and I forget that at the same time, many of them may look at me and think I’m living their dream.

When I stop and consider all my blessings, I can’t help but feel ashamed and embarrassed at my lack of contentment. God has truly blessed me, beyond measure, far more abundantly than I deserve.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Timothy 6:6.

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