catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 7 :: 2007.04.06 — 2007.04.20



Dogface still comes with me everywhere.  We were in England not so long ago and a friend commented on what a cute teddy I had.

“He’s a dog,” I corrected.

“Yes, and he’s such a cute teddy,” my friend said.

“No, he’s a dog,” I said.

“An adorable teddy,” my friend continued.

“His name is Dogface,” I said.  “He’s a dog.”

“What a lovely name for a teddy.”

Eventually light dawned:  Brits call all stuffed animals teddies, regardless of their species.  I was not okay with this, my creature being clearly a canine and not a bear, teddy or otherwise.  He’d been with me through thick and thin, and I wanted him to get the respect he deserved as a dog, albeit not a particularly ferocious one.

I got Dogface as a baby gift and he’s been with me ever since.  He was originally part of a doggie trio also comprised of Barkley (a la Sesame Street) and Saddie (he looked sad), but when I’ve only had room in the suitcase for one, he’s been given the job.

Like a good friend, he’s on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Sometimes I say he’s my favorite friend because he never, ever disagrees with me and he always thinks I’m right.  It’s nice to have someone who thinks I’m right, no matter how wrong I am.  In that way, he’s even got God beat.  Maybe that’s not very couth, but it’s not Dogface’s fault.  He hasn’t got a choice.  He’s my Dogface and he’ll back me up.

I like to ask him questions sometimes, and let him answer.

“Dogface,” I’ll say, “you think I’m right, don’t you?  Jingle your tail once if you don’t and twice if you do.”  (Perhaps this would be the time to mention that he has a lovely round jingle in his tail.  It can actually leave his tail and move into any part of his anatomy, but that’s another story.)  And, don’t you know, that tail will jingle for minutes on end.  He’s a very amenable pup.

That’s not us, though.  Us people, I mean.  We’re God’s just as much as Dogface is mine, yet we’ve got choices.  We don’t have to back Him up.  We don’t have to jingle when He asks.  We don’t even have to think He exists.  And yet He still loves us.

I wonder how I’d feel about Dogface if he didn’t always love me back.  He’d still be cute and cuddly and give comforting hugs, but if one day he piped up that I was being a selfish brat and needed an attitude adjustment, I think he’d find himself hurled across the room faster than you can say “teddies don’t talk.”

But God doesn’t do that to us, even when He tries to hold us and we spit in His face.  He just holds us tighter and wipes the spit away and whispers that He loves us anyway.

When we rant that He’s unfair, that He’s letting bad things happen, that He’s not getting things done fast enough, He doesn’t stop to remind us that, actually, we’re the creation and He’s the creator.  Or maybe He does, but we can’t hear Him because we’re whining too loudly.

The analogy’s not perfect, though.  Dogface’s had plenty of times he’d have been well within his rights to give me a good talking-to and never has; au contraire, God’s often gotten one, but has never needed one.  And that’s something else—when the going gets tough, Dogface isn’t the one I go to for advice.  Cuddles, yes, conversation, no.  Even if he could talk, I know he’d always side with me (I can see it in his eyes), and, painful as it is to admit, sometimes it’s the other side I need to hear.  Now I’m not at all suggesting I want my stuffed animal to turn against me, or even that I think it’s wrong to have one little inanimate critter who unflinchingly agrees with me absolutely, but I do know I need a few real friends who are willing to step up to the plate and tell me the truth about how I’m living my life.  And I’m willing to listen to them, and make adjustments, and refocus my attitude on someone besides myself.  I know it’s important and necessary and useful for character growth and development—just so long as Dogface knows I really was right all along.

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