I’ve been asked about my favorite pets when I was growing up. Below is the video of my answer, if you’d prefer to watch, and the transcript if you’d prefer to read.
My family had a number of dogs. We had a black lab named Ranger, who had a sad story. He got involved with the wrong kind of dogs, and they went out and started killing sheep—which is not a quality you look for in a dog. I remember my father telling me we had found a new home for Ranger, way out in the country. Years later I realized my dog Ranger had most likely paid the ultimate price for killing sheep and was probably not living a peaceful life in the country.
Later we had a little mutt named Spike, and he was a lot of fun. We also had two cats along the way—one named Hank, after Hank Aaron the baseball player, and another named Jack, after Jack Benny.
But then we had a Golden Retriever named Champ, who was my favorite of all the animals. As a boy, I would often go out in the backyard and sleep under the stars. I got a telescope when I was in the fifth grade, so I would go out every clear night to look through it. (That included a lot of cold Oregon nights.) I would be in my sleeping bag, watching the shooting stars and the meteorites, and the satellites going overhead, and Champ would crawl into the bag with me and lay on his back. We would watch the stars together. The two of us had a great relationship.
One thing Champ loved to do was crawl up on the roof of our house, which was flat on one side. My dad made a little platform where he could come up from the back yard, so when people came by our house, they saw a dog up on the roof. We got a lot of comments about that!
One of my great delights later in life was introducing my wife Nanci to dogs for the first time. When our girls were small, I told Nanci I wanted to get a dog. Our friend Mindy offered us an English Springer Spaniel. We had the pick of the litter, so I went over and chose a puppy and brought him home to give to our children. Nanci, who had never had a dog, immediately fell in love with him. We named him Champ in honor of the Golden Retriever I had grown up with.
Since then we have had a Dalmatian named Moses, who is fourteen years old. He’s a great dog, and we love him. All of those dogs (with the possible exception of Ranger) were a delight to me. The ones Nanci and I and our family have had together have brought us great joy.
Nanci with Champ and MosesGod is so gracious to give us animals. (That’s Nanci in the picture, with Champ and Moses, on her lap.) In Genesis 1 and 2, one of the first responsibilities given to the first man and woman was to care for the animals. It’s true that some people go overboard with their pets, spending too much money on them compared to human needs in the world. But I also believe God has used pets to minister to and speak to and be a comfort and companions to many people.
God created us, God created them, and God created us to have a bond with them. This is not only true of dogs and cats, but certainly of other creatures, whether that’s horses, guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, or turtles. They are God’s gift to us as human beings.