Thursday, June 12, 2008

Animal Hospital Walls


I've only been in a veterinary clinic once before, but I remember a similar motif to the one I visited today: uncoordinated wall colors, and random framed drawings of assorted household pets. We were the only ones in the waiting room, but it still took about five minutes for Pete to sign papers authorizing the euthenatia, and another five for the vet to prepare. I started at one side and worked my way around the walls of the animal hospital.

First picture, first question: why would someone draw a picture of such an ugly cat? He or she must have really loved the cat. Still, wouldn't this artist realize that even though she loved the cat, no one else would value a framed picture of such a hideous looking creature? An inscription was printed on the bottom right corner of the matting: It's always hard to lose a family member. Thank you for easing my pain. With love, Cindy.

I moved on to a picture of a man with a fishing pole, glancing over his shoulder to his trailing dog. It was the very picture of man and his faithful companion - I don't know when artists will realize that this picture has been painted a thousand times over. I told Pete my theory that a dog is everything a man wants in a woman: good listener, rapt audience, non-argumentative, adoring. He nodded but didn't smile.

Across the room was a bulletin board smothered in animal-themed note cards and holiday pictures. One picture was of of a 30-something couple and seven rottweilers. I wondered if this couple had security issues or if they couldn't have children. The names of the dogs read like a top-10 baby names for the past ten years: Emily, Isabelle, Ethan, Ava, Michael... I decided that they couldn't have children. They looked really happy. The Christmas card said Happy Holidays from the Wilson Family!

The private waiting room was the color of a kiwi and had a couch covered in animal fur. Pete sat on a stool and I sat on the arm of a chair. "She was a good bird," he said, and I agreed. The vet came back with Max, who was still moving slightly but quickly stiffened in her hands. "She went to sleep very easily," she said. "I don't think she had a lot of blood left."

We wrapped Max in a cloth and placed her in a box. We thanked the wonderful vet who had said all of the right things and carried Max with such care. I glanced again at its walls covered by the affection of a rare breed of people: animal lovers. I thought, If I were to make an addition to these walls I would inscribe this verse:

Matthew 10:29: Are not sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

I have always had a somewhat sarcastic bent towards animal lovers. Yet somehow, I think their Christmas cards and ugly cat drawings - and our tears over Max - illustrate a small portion of God's love for his creation.

His eye is on the sparrow.


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