Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stanley's Parable

Stanley's Parable

We were the typical big family: Four kids... and a dog.
Every big family needs a dog, right? So we went to the shelter to get one. We looked at several, but fell in love with Stanley. He was an Aussie Shepherd mix, and we think he had some Saint Bernard. He was older, but still young enough to romp with the kids, yet gentle enough that they could do anything to him.

At first it was fine. I knew I was in charge of the feeding and cleanup, and he was just like another kid. I'd never grown up with a dog, but I was willing to take on the extra work. The kids loved him. And Stanley loved the kids. He was a good dog.

But he wasn't an outside dog. No matter how much we tried, Stanley could not get used to sleeping outside. And I could not get used to all the dog hair that ends up in everything. But the kids loved him, and he was such a good dog. And he seemed a little lonely for canine friends.

Then we moved. The new yard didn't work as well. He couldn't get his exercise out. I'd have to walk him. Which was fine; I could walk him to school with the kids. But I couldn't go on campus with him. Which was a problem. He was a good dog, but I was overwhelmed.

Then Stanley started barking. And chewing. I knew it was from lack of exercise. And having to stay outside all alone. We all loved him. But I couldn't take care of him. He needed a real family. One that would have a place in their house. One that wouldn't mind all the Stanley fur. One that had another dog to keep him company. And one that could provide him with adequate exercise. My heart was bigger than my ability. I didn't want to admit it.

Finally, Stanley's barking and chewing was too much. It was bothering the neighbors. It was bothering the kids. It was bothering me. I wanted to find another family for him, but Stanley had to go now. There was no time to find a better solution. I signed the papers at the shelter.

Then I got the call from the Aussie Rescue lady. "I have Stanley here. How could you take him back to the shelter? You know they could have put him to sleep."

This women then proceeded to interrogate me and jump to conclusions at every turn. First I wasn't feeding him enough, then I allowed him to get overweight. And I couldn't find the time to exercise him, but he couldn't get up and down the stairs. So, according to her, I had just dumped him at the shelter to get rid of him.

What could I say? I wasn't going to change her mind about me. She didn't have all the details, and deep down I knew I had made the right decision. This woman, who couldn't pick me out in a crowd, had made some pretty harsh judgments. And it wasn't fair.

It hadn't a snap decision. I had prayed about this, and thought about it, and tried other solutions. But I had finally found the best solution for me in this situation. I'd come to the realization that I raise children better than I raise dogs. I'm just not a dog person.

And something else. I loved Stanley, but not in the way he deserved. I couldn't love him enough to keep him and take care of him, I didn't have the ability. But I could love him enough to let him go and have a chance at a better situation.

Yet, I am grateful to that woman, of whom I can't recall the name, for her phone call. Now, every time I'm tempted to pass judgment on someone's decision, I think of Stanley. I think that no matter how much I think I know about a situation, I don't know everything.

And I'm not THE JUDGE.