While my two brothers and I were growing up, our family had an Australian Shepherd. She was a red merle. I remember getting her as a puppy and being amazed (and a little sad) at how quickly she grew up.

We named our sweet girl “Princess” and she was.

“She’s spolt (spoiled),” my mom would say. We baby talked Our Sweet Princess and called her “Girly-whirly.” Unashamed.

I remember how frustrating it was to potty train her. And the dismay I felt when she chewed our furniture, and sometimes even the house itself.

I remember teaching her how to play fetch.

I remember my younger brother putting his skates on and then having her pull him down the street as fast as she could go.

I remember how she’d put her head in my lap and look at me with those “please pet me” eyes.

Princess is no longer with us, but the lessons we learned in caring for her remain to this day. Lessons in patience, compassion, humor, companionship, unconditional affection, and physical care.

Allister McGrath, in his amazing biography of C.S. Lewis, writes this about Lewis’s deep concern that we treat animals well:

“For Lewis, the true mark of the primacy of humans over animals is ‘acknowledging duties to them which they do not acknowledge to us.’ Human dignity demands that humans show respect for animals. More than that, animals can enable human beings to develop compassion and care. Lewis’s theology of creation leads him to insist that human relationships with animals can be ennobling and fulfilling–both for animals and for humans.”

Alister McGrath, C.S. Lewis, A Life, 276.

Amen. May our furry friends continue to teach us how to be humane, and thus, more human.