Well, we took Tag to the vet last Thursday as planned. It is so fun how life here is such a group event! I had previously asked for a vet referral from one of my Las Palmas neighbor contacts, who came with a dog and 3 cats and has lived here for a year – I have found it is always good to have that information BEFORE you need it. He gave me the name of a good lady (named Maria, of course!) in the nearby town of Jipijapa. So five of us – me, Bill, Elaine and their friends Robert & Rick – all piled into Mesfin’s SUV (with Bill in the hatch with the dog) for the 30 minute winding trip. The vet was the combination of professional & compassionate that I had hoped for (reminiscent of my wonderful Dr. Colleen back home). She did not really speak much English and although we had a few with good Spanish skills, she called a friend who was fluent and could freely explain to us what she was saying and vice versa. As expected, Tag had very serious cases of mange, worms and other issues. The vet gave him the appropriate shots and deworming treatments and sent us to the pharmacy in town to buy the other medications. Bill & Elaine elected to leave him with her for several days so she could do all the necessary treatments (baths, applications, etc.) to help him get better before bringing him back home. The most disconcerting part was discovering that the “kennel” was nothing more than a cage on the sidewalk by the street in front of the vet (welcome to Ecuador!) The look on his face as we left (and the subsequent howling and yelping when Bill, Rick & Mesfin returned from the pharmacy with the medicine) said it all – he thought his few days of “salvation” were over and he was being abandoned! It was so hard that we could not explain to him what we were doing was out of love and it was for his good in the long run.
This all vividly brought back to me a lesson that God has used animals to remind me of several times. Most recently a few days prior, when Mesfin had sprayed a large amount of pesticide all around our house and property. For several days, I did not want to let Charcoal outside until I’d had a chance to wash off the patio and let some of it dissipate. I would go out in the morning to have my coffee and breakfast on the patio and she could not understand why I would not let her come out as usual (she also doesn’t understand why I want her to stay on the patio and not venture off into the yard/dirt – she doesn’t know about the snakes, scorpions, dogs or numerous other hazards that she could encounter at any moment!) It is so hard with our animal friends that we are not able to communicate to them the things we are doing are for their good, to help or protect them. We have to hope they have learned by our other actions that we love them and they can trust us and know that although they may not understand, ultimately they can trust and believe we know what we are doing and it is best. How much more is this like our relationship with God? We don’t always understand why He tells us to abstain from certain things, or wonder why He allows difficult things to come into our lives, but as Isaiah 55:8 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” – His ways are far beyond what our finite minds can comprehend. But ultimately we have to rely on the fact that He loves us and we can trust Him that whatever we don’t understand, we know His plans and purposes are always for our good – that His “plans are to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Tag finally came home today and we want to shower him with even more love and attention than before (if that is possible!) We want him to learn that no matter what may happen in the future that he might not understand, we love him and whatever is done is for his good and now that he has been “adopted” into a new, loving family, he will NEVER be abandoned again!