A dog's collar
A collar and tag may not seem that significant to some. Those who own a dog and especially those who have lost one will understand why it is I still have my first dog’s collar with all her tags in a cabinet. They might also understand the sadness I feel that I did not remove Holden’s collar before burying him, although it was a simple blue nylon collar that could be found at any pet store. He didn’t even have tags yet. This is Hunter’s collar, with the ID tag my husband bought for him. It, too, is a simple collar. The tag bears only his name and our phone number. Yet I believe it to be perhaps the most significant of the three.

All of us at times allow the weeds of our heart to come out into the light. Not all of us recognize this or try to change it. Mostly, we just bury them deeper and try harder not to let people notice. After our dog was killed by a car, I was expecting my husband to become impatient with me in regards to missing Holden. “It’s just a dog.” The fact that he was wrapped up in a trash bag at the bottom of our dumpster disturbed me but, “It was just a dog.”

The day after Holden was killed, my husband called me and apologized for not being more compassionate as I carried Holden through the house, leaving a trail of blood. He had mostly been upset at having been awoken in the middle of the night. But there, in his hotel room, he began thinking about all the things he had said to and about the dog. All the times the children had witnessed him losing his temper over minor annoyances of pet ownership. My husband has always tended toward noticing the worst in every situation and this was most clearly demonstrated in his behavior toward Holden.

Suddenly, he had a deeper appreciation for life. He noticed how many gifts he had been given in this world, but rather than appreciating them, he carried them as yet another burden. His home, his possessions, his pet…even his children and spouse. He resolved in his heart to develop a habit of praise.

After he got home, he helped me dig a grave in the back yard. He got Holden out of the dumpster and talked to the children about the privileges and responsibilities of pet ownership. He praised God; he praised the children; he praised Holden.

After we got a new puppy, he made a concerted effort to speak gently. He played with the children and the puppy more. He noticed the efforts of the children and not just how they fall short. And he spent $8.50 on a little tag with Hunter’s name and phone number on it in case he got lost.

Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.
--Psalm 47:6