“[T]he Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b). 

Last Friday, we began fostering a miniature dachshund named “Missy” for the local animal shelter. Missy is morbidly obese at 23 pounds (the proper weight for this breed is no more than 12). Her owner, who had to surrender her before going into a nursing home, had fed the dog bacon and eggs every day. We’re continuing the low-fat diet the shelter had her on, as well as making sure she IMG_0656gets plenty of exercise. The goal is to bring her weight down so she’ll be more readily adoptable.

I found myself, to my shame, surprised when this fat little dog showed how smart she was and how quickly she could learn where the door was to go out or adapt to our routine. I told Susan that I realized she was fat, but not stupid. Did the two go together in my mind?

I had to admit there was some lingering prejudice I had based on the way the dog looks, and also, on the way people look. Whatever my claim to the contrary or how loudly I preach against such an attitude, I still do judge by looks and externals.

Maybe it was because my niece Page just got two new tattoos and a new nose piercing that I began to think about how negatively I react to body art, even if I don’t say anything. I better get over that, because not only Page but my brother-in-law Warren and some other relatives (as well as church members and friends) enjoy such self expression. Tattoos may not be for me, but someone’s decoration is no cause to call into question his or her character, talent, faith nor any other quality. The same must be said for any other aspect of appearance. (The opposite is also true, I think. Just because somebody is neat, well-dressed, slim, and/or articulate does not mean he or she is moral, trustworthy or gifted.)

Missy has only been with us a week, but already caring for her has taught me a valuable lesson and made me come to terms with a part of myself and my upbringing I thought I had dealt with and moved beyond.  Who knows what she will teach in the coming days?

© 2011 Tom Cheatham

If you’re interested in Missy, please contact the Oktibbeha County Humane Society at 662.338.9093 or go to http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/21064898.