The Book of Bandit – ch 1 – First Callings

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it;  and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”  – Genesis 1:28 –

Last year, in the fall, we made a profoundly life-changing family decision…  It was time to get a dog.  This came in the wake of the death of two beloved Pandemic-era Hamsters named Dude and Buddy.  They had lived wonderfully long hamster lives (well past the average 2.5 years).  They had diligently run cardboard mazes of our children’s construction and eaten countless apple slices like champs. 

And so, once we said a fond farewell to the last hamster, we searched the rescue dog sites, and consulted with our pet owning friends and then we found this guy: 

He’s a Schneagle… yes that’s a thing, quite literally 50% Beagle, and 50% Miniature Schnauzer, and 100% Puppy.  We especially loved the juxtaposition of a cute-but-sad looking little face with a bounding and joyful demeanor. 

Within days we realized a few things: 

  • He can howl, and it’s adorable, he especially loves to howl when the kids are practicing their band instruments! 
  • Naming him Bandit was a terrible idea.  Once he got faster than us, he immediately got to work living up to his namesake.  His favorite game being I-steal-you-chase.
  • If a dog is supposed to have a part of their brain that distinguishes food from not-food, our dog’s is stunningly underdeveloped…  or perhaps non-existent.   

And something else happened, that I was not expecting, not ready for…  The whole house got… nicer… more kind, more patient.  It was surreal. 

This is not to say that we were mean or terrible beforehand, but there was a noticeable change in the home, for the better.  This is strange.  If anything, I would have expected a dog to increase the level of stress in the house, it’s certainly more work. 

And the pastor in me began to think…  Is there something theological going on here? 

Yes, there is, we were returning to one of our first callings. 

In the book of Genesis humans are commissioned by God to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it, and to have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and everything that moves on the earth.  We were given a purpose, a calling. 

At its heart it works like this:  God has dominion over us, and we (who are made in the image of God) have dominion over creation…  which means, we are supposed to care for the created world and all its creatures, as an echo of the care that God provides for us. 

In so doing, we touch, part of, the heart of what it means to be human.  You were literally made to caretake the planet and all the creations of God.  When we fulfil that job in a Godly way, we experience an element of holiness, or perhaps it is better to explain it like this… In Godly dominion: 

The caretaker gets to experience a reflection of the love of God as they tend, train, and work for the good of that which is under their care.  They get to love in a way that God loves, in the Christian tradition you could call this an aspect of holiness. 

The one under care experiences a status elevation:  Plants in a well-tended garden get to become a little bit more than they would have been otherwise, caretaken animals receive food, shelter, protection, and relationships they would not have normally had.  Protected ecosystems can thrive, or perhaps even be restored.  – I believe the same happens to us when we submit to the caretaking of God, we too rise in status, become a little bit more than we would have been otherwise.  Or could you we are blessed

As in all things here on earth this charge of dominion, this holy calling can go quite wrong if it is done in the wrong way or for the wrong reasons; if it is not done as a reflection of the love of God.  I won’t pretend for a second that we are flawless and perfect caretakers of creation (or even of the one puppy we now have), but… there are moments when it’s done well in many homes and people groups around the world.    

So perhaps, what I witnessed in my home was a soft and simple echo of our first human calling.  Perhaps something as delightfully simple as caretaking something that God made has the potential to show us an echo of the love of God. 

This I say as I run to chase after a pair of my socks that were just nipped and darted out of the room in a flash of fur…  I swear he smiled as he did it.    

2 thoughts on “The Book of Bandit – ch 1 – First Callings”

  1. As I look out the picture window to the sidewalk early in the morning, I marvel at the love and care walkers have for their pet dog or dogs. I grew up with wonderful farm dogs. The love and care my family gave them was returned many times over. There is something to learn from that at the human level. I also had a pet (rather frisky) raccoon. Mom was run over. The call of the wild finally came after a year of adventures. We miss Corky, but know that Corkey like us has a path in life to follow, with GOD as our guide.

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