I love the fact that someone within the Russian government decided to send France a puppy. Someone heard that a police dog named Diesel had been killed whilst looking for suspects in the recent terror attacks in Paris. Someone heard that Diesel had died and thought, “We need to send them a puppy.” Then they spoke to others and convinced them – “we need to send France a puppy.” Then they found a suitable puppy named Dobrynya. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34891115)
While non-dog lovers might not understand, every dog lover will get this immediately.
Sure, you could put it down to some kind of weird puppy political propaganda, but I choose to believe beneath all the military and police uniforms that something far greater than that is happening. Not politics, but compassion. Not war mongering, but love. Someone understood the loss and wanted to try and fill the void. Someone wanted to give France a puppy.
Yes, Dobrynya will grow up to be a police dog, working alongside a handler to fight crime. A bond will grow between Dobrynya and his/her handler that will encourage them to protect each other over the years as they protect others together. Dobrynya may learn to sniff out explosives or attack people. I understand. But for now, Dobrynya is an adorable, playful puppy.
And puppies embody everything that terrorists are not.
Puppies are extremely generous. They rarely hesitate to trust or show affection. Puppies run to greet you, ears back with a full body wag to show how excited they are to see you, to greet you and to welcome you to their pack. No matter how long you are gone, whether five hours to go to work or five minutes to go to the loo, puppies are excited to see you again. To puppies, no matter how long you have been away, you clearly have been gone too long! There is a desire to be with others, in community, that puppies are just born with.
Puppies are playful. They learn how to defend and hunt through play. When puppies play, if one accidentally bites the other too hard, the hurt puppy yelps to warn the other. They both stop for a moment, then start up again- this time hopefully being more careful. They teach each other how to be gentle in their play.
Puppies explore. Even the shyest of puppies has to explore their surroundings. They are curious. You can almost see them asking “what is this?” as they approach anything new. A puppy pads the new with a paw, sniffs, gives it a nudge with his/her nose. The new is to be explored, understood, experienced. And yes, sometimes pounced upon in excitement, especially if the new is a noisy 2 litre plastic bottle rolling across the kitchen floor!
Puppies are potentially helpful. If a puppy is properly trained, it can grow up to help other animals and to help people. Besides the usual “dogs with jobs” like sheep dogs, police dogs, sight/hearing dogs, etc, dogs are also used in schools, hospitals and nursing homes to comfort people. Science has proven dogs are good at helping people with anxiety and depression – just by being a dog.
Put all those qualities together and more, and you realise that puppies – those tiny little balls of fur – ignite joy in people.
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV) says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” In a time when people want to crush spirits with fear and try to stir up hatred in our communities, we need to try and hold onto the moments of cheerful hearts, the moments when people overcome the fear and the anger and do something loving and compassionate, something truly courageous and life-giving.
We need to celebrate the courageous people who say seemingly bizarre things like “we need to give France a puppy.”
P.S. Cats are awesome too! Read about how Belgians and their cats recently responded to being in lockdown… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34897645