I never had children. At this stage of my life, I never will. And that’s okay. Not to sound too much like a Burt Bacharach song but affection is a chameleon, taking many different forms and variations. What the world needs now, is love. Period.

I happen to reserve what might otherwise have been an overwhelming and annoying devotion to my offspring for my pets. There is Bernie, the bearded dragon who conducts himself like a boyfriend who ghosts you and then comes back around when he needs something (like blueberries.) There were a family of Guinea pigs during the 80s who had names like Ollie and Fawn (adopted, as you might have guessed, during the Iran Contra hearings.) There were goldfish whose real names I don’t remember but who will forever be known in our house as Romeo and Juliet, having jumped to their deaths because someone who might have been named Christine forgot to put the protective screen on the tank. I found them the next morning, curled up together like little orange donut holes. I wept, then swept.

But my deepest love has always been reserved for the dogs. There was Maximilian Alexander Flowers, a white German Shepherd who pranced into our lives when I was eleven. Maxie had the names of noble conquerors but was a wussy thing. He hid when the doorbell rang, walked meekly around the neighborhood on his “tinkle walks,” embarrassed to be seen in public doing numbers one and two, and generally sought a quiet life. Like Ferdinand the iconic bull, he just wanted to sit and smell-or eat-the flowers.

Maxie disappeared from our lives when he was only five, from an illness we never fully understood. Our parents kept that pain from my siblings and I. He was only with us for five years but my childhood seems filled with memories of him. His life stretched well beyond my childhood, into immortality.

Then, we got Chance. A big, bounding Black Lab who was born the day my mother died. I truly believe God looked down upon a grieving family and said “this one will heal their hearts.” And he has. Chance is loving, completely guileless, prone to seek you out if he’s in need of a head scratch (even if you’re on the toilet because he figured out how to unlatch the lock) and will lie at your feet when the world is pressing down on your shoulders. He says, with his warm, padded pillow of a body that you’re never alone. And even ten years on, he carries that spark and light in him that illuminates the darkness, with selfless, unconditional, eyes raised and locked into your own, love.

A few years after Chance, we got him a sister. Sophie is also a Black Lab, exuberant and feisty and flirtatious. She is the one strangers love because of her charisma, she is the one the neighbors call out to with familiarity, she is the “It” girl of our world. And Chance doesn’t mind because he knows his own place, which is at the top of every mountain, and nestled in the valley of my heart.

These creatures are God’s reminder that we are his first drafts. They are far above us in their ability to love, to sense danger and sorrow, to give without expecting anything in compensation other than our happiness reflected in their eyes.

Yes, there are exceptions. There are dogs who have been abused and react in violent ways. There are animals who have inexplicable moments of anger. But rarely are they spontaneous. More often than not, they’ve been provoked. More often than not, they’ve been misunderstood. More often than not, they are victims of our impatience, and our cruelty.

Which is why Kristi Noem, who killed the dog she “hated” because she couldn’t train her to hunt pheasant, is a worthless first draft. God forgive her, because I won’t. Nor should any of you.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61

36 thoughts on “Christine Flowers: God made dogs to keep us humble”

  1. Christine – love your posts and articles but you didn’t grow up in a rural area where life and death situations and decisions regarding farm animals, domestic animals, and wildlife confront people daily. Could Kristi’s dog have been trained better? IDK. But as it was written in her book, the situation occurred 20 years ago, the dog attacked and killed some wild game birds instead of pointing as trained (strike 1). Followed by a visit to a neighbor’s farm where the dog escaped it’s vehicle confinement and killed the farmer’s chickens (strike 2). Finally, the dog aggressively attacked it’s owner when the owner was trying to stop the attack on the farmer’s chickens (strike 3). I wouldn’t keep a dog, or re-home a dog, or allow a dog that had attacked me to stay in my home or be near my young children. If you take your dog to the SPCA or other shelter and tell them that the dog attacked domestic animals and it’s owner, they don’t hesitate – the dog goes down. What Kristi did was a hard decision, I’m sure. One that she didn’t want to pawn off on a third party because it was less stressful. People need to grow up and see the reality of life in rural and farm communities.

    1. Respectfully, people don’t need to “grow up.” This was not an Old Yeller situation. The dog could have been rejoined. Noem tried to make this out as her “Im tough, pick me for VP” moment. She exhibited extreme cruelty. And then she shot a goat several times before it finally died. “Grow up?” I don’t think so. Thanks for reading.

    2. I grew up in rural Chester County with hunters and lived around farms and had dogs my entire life. Farmers and hunters don’t shoot their puppies in the face because the dog is rambunctious and immature. She took the puppy to a ranch and didn’t contain the dog. The dog got out of her truck and went after the chickens. That’s what dogs do when they aren’t trained and she failed to contain the dog. She was angry at the puppy (she claimed she hated) and shot the poor thing in the face. Stop acting like rural folks are evil and mistreat their animals. No decent person would do this to a dog.

  2. Well, it’s like this, either her editor is an idiot or really hated her. That story should never have been included in the book. As for Christy, there are some things not even a nose job or plastic surgery can hide. She killed her own dog to get her own way. What does it tell you about her terms as a politician? It takes some talent to make Jonie Ernst ( “I know how to castrate pigs”) look like Mother Teresa

    1. Please note, readers, how Margie mocks my comments about my grief over my mother’s death. Measure Margie by that metric.

      1. You deleted her comments so we can only take your word for it, which I can’t. Its typical for you to delete and block people who disagree with you, so its free speech for thee, but for me.

        1. I did not delete them, but clearly you are not a lawyer. Certain slanderous comments are not generally covered by the First Amendment. Maybe take a Con Law course.

          1. Where her post should be it says, “removed by moderators”, which means they were deleted. So I have no idea if those comments were slanderous and not covered by the First Amendment because they were “removed by the moderators”/deleted. Your specialization is Immigration Law not Constitutional Law and your degree was granted in 1987. So your current knowledge how and when the First Amendment is out of date.

        2. I deleted that comment because it was a grossly uncivil personal attack. This is a forum for debate on issues and ideas, not childish sniping and ad hominem attacks.

          1. And we will never know if this was a slanderous attack because it was deleted. Childish sniping and ad hominem attacks are often the trademarks of Ms. Flowers columns.

  3. Either Gov. Norm’s editor hates her or is an idiot. There is no way that story should have made it to print. It is not good publicity for either the governor or the publishing house. Apparently there are some things even Kristi’s nose job or plastic surgery cannot cover up. That said there is something going for her as she’s made Joni Ernst (“ I’ve castrated pigs on the farm”) look like Mother Teresa.

    1. Or Ms. Noem overruled the editor because her ego made her think this was a example about what a great leader she was by making a hard choice.

  4. Well written and thought Christine … as usual. If there was maladaptive behavior in the puppy, Noem owns the failure. Noem, like many politicians, blames others for her failures, confuses violence for toughness. Vibrant advertisement for term limits.

  5. Everyone’s grandparents lived a short while ago. Everyone’s grandparents would think this world has gone insane. Because it has…

    Why are dogs treated humanely?
    It is a dog-eat-dog world.
    Why do humans behave insanely?
    Ying, Yang, and the between swirled.

    Without God there is no justification for any human equality. Let alone treating animals humanely. Someone alert PETA and the WWF they need God.

    1. So because someone does not share your religious beliefs they are not worthy of human equality? One of the reasons the Constitution separates Church and State was to prevent the religious wars and discrimination that were so common in Europe.

      1. Judah, I agree with you that it was brilliant that the first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Jefferson and Madison could both be accused of mixing religion and government. Madison issued proclamations of religious fasting and thanksgivings while Jefferson signed treaties that sent religious ministers to the Native Americans. And from its inception, the Supreme Court has opened each of its sessions with the cry “God save the United States and this honorable court.”
        My simple point is that without God there is no justification whatsoever for human equality. We hold these truths to be self-evident…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Unalienable or Inalienable means something that is not transferable or that is impossible to take away. No one, no group of people, no affinity group or spokes council, nor the government, can take away your rights BECAUSE THEY ARE GOD GIVEN. God keeps humans from tyranny. God. Let’s suppose Trump becomes President and implements martial law. He did not last time, in fact almost all of the propaganda about him last time was proven wrong, but let’s pretend along with the MSNBC viewers and suppose he does… God is not going to help anyone. People will act, and react, and take all of the actions. But everyone’s varying degrees of belief in God will matter. Because if no one believes in God it will just be which tyrannical group devours the rest of us deplorables. Do you understand why most people are waking up now? Our leaders are corrupt, Godless, and follow the tyrannical elite oligarchs’ orders after taking their donations to stay elected. Ask Speaker Johnson.

        1. The First Amendment clearly states, “The First Amendment provides that Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise”. So there is no requirement that any American follow a faith or believe in God. God is only referred to in the Declaration of Independence four times and in the Constitution which is the basis for American law there is no mention of God.

          Which version of God you referring to? Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Quaker, Amish, Baptist, Evangelical, Jewish, Shinto, Buddhist, or Islam? Do you believe that America is a Christian nation and where is this stated in the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution

      1. And do you know why we have the second amendment? So, we can keep the first amendment. Guns are for killing tyrants. And sometimes useful for hunting. Personally, I lost all of my guns in a horrible boating accident. However, I am grateful for the second amendment. As a people we could always enact another amendment to change the second amendment… but no one ever talks about that. Violence is never the answer. Vote.

        1. Do you know what protects the First Amendment, rule of law. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movements changed this nation for the better without guns. Gandhi freed India from British Colonial rule without guns. On the other hand guns were used to threaten and kill people within these movements.

          1. Judah, a rhetorical question: how is the rule of law enforced? The answer is within the word “enforced.”
            The First Amendment, or any existing amendment, can be undone by another, new, amendment. The “rule of law” does not protect the First Amendment. The representative republic U.S. Government does not protect any of the amendments. The collective force of we the people impose limitations on the tyrannical few. If we the people are not armed, then we are at the mercy of whatever government is in place.
            Guns were used to threaten and kill a lot of people. The were used in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and during many other instances.
            Guns are not the problem they are simply tools. People, who choose to abuse tools, are the issue. You are correct that Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement changed this nation for the better. You are incorrect that guns were not involved. History is mostly portrayed that people were perfectly good or evil, yet they were human beings, and they have the contradictions of anybody else, even Martin Luther King. Source: author, professor and former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary Charles E. Cobb Jr. in his book, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.

    1. Wrong Josh. It’s correct usage. Didn’t have the benefit of Mercy or IHM, did you? 🙂

        1. Josh, sometimes a source seems correct when it is not…
          My Siblings and I is a 2018 Nigerian comedy series, produced by Funke Akindele and co-directed by JJC Skillz and Olasunkanmi Adebayo. The Series is based on the life of the Aberuagba family depicted as an extended family.
          The most common and grammatically correct way to express this phrase formally is by saying “My siblings and I.” When using this phrase, make sure to place “I” at the end. For example, you could say, “My siblings and I went to the same school” (1).
          If you want to emphasize the gender of your siblings, you can also say “My brothers and sisters and I.” For instance, “My brothers and sisters and I are all pursuing different careers” (2).
          Remember, “I” is used when you’re the subject of the sentence or the doer of the action, while “me” is used when you’re the object of the sentence or the receiver of the action (3.)
          Sources: (1.) bing.com (2.) howtosayguide.com (3.) grammarly.com

          1. Michael. What is the subject and what is the object in this sentence?

            “Our parents kept that pain from my siblings and I.”

          2. Well you know: once you’ve been teached English good, ain’t nobody gonna learn you better.

          1. Josh, I apologize and appreciate you educating me on my error. Thank you.
            Judah, thank you for the opportunity for me to eat some humble pie.

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