Humane Religion Magazine
July - August 1996 Issue
A NEW HOME FOR OSCAR
Joan E. Atkinson
This article was originally printed with the notation that it was written “for children.” But the faith-in-action that it demonstrates is an inspiration for people of any age.
One of my favorite weekend activities is doing volunteer work at our local animal shelter. Most of the animals there are dogs and cats, but sometimes we get rabbits, hamsters, mice, and even parakeets. The shelter gives them a temporary home while they wait for a new one, and in the meantime we can enjoy getting to know each other.
My duties include taking the dogs outside for a walk on a leash, keeping their water bowls filled, and talking to the people who come there looking for an animal to adopt. I like helping them find the right animal to share their home with.
The dogs are always very grateful to be taken outside for a walk. They show how happy they are by running around me and anything else within range, until we all get thoroughly tangled up in the long leash. This is fun for me too, because it makes me happy to see a happy dog.
One day as I was walking each dog by turn and then putting him back in his run, I came to a run with a new dog inside that had been brought to the shelter during the week. He was enormous and very powerful-looking! The yellow identification ticket on the gate said his name was Oscar. I opened the gate and was about to go inside and put a leash on Oscar when the animal control officer came up to me and told me not to walk him.
“God forms and preserves the individuality and identity of animals as well as of men”
“He’s a very strong dog and you won’t be able to hold him on a leash,” she explained. She closed the gate and added, “A dog like this doesn’t have much chance of getting adopted because he is too big and strong for most people to handle.”
Her words made me sad, because I knew how much it means to an animal to get adopted. Oscar looked at me expectantly through the gate, hoping he could go for a walk like the other dogs. That made me feel worse, because I wasn’t allowed to take him.
I went aside to think quietly by myself for a few moments. Christian Science has taught me that God is Father-Mother, the creator of every spiritual idea. In reality we are all God’s ideas, and so are the animals. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, “God is the Life, or intelligence, which forms and preserves the individuality and identity of animals as well as of men.” That means He loves and cares for all His creatures—even Oscar! So His love could surely provide a home for Oscar, with his bigness and strength, just as He does for each one of us.
I remembered what Christ Jesus said about sparrows—that “not one of them is forgotten before God.” If God doesn’t forget a tiny sparrow, he could hardly forget about great big Oscar.
I looked around and saw all the people carefully observing the animals, seeking something special in each that would say to them, “This is the one for me!” Then, when they found that special animal, they would take it home to love. And I thought, surely, somewhere in someone’s heart, there is a home for Oscar.
I went back to my work, and a little while later a burly young man came into the shelter. He walked down the runs glancing at the dogs, and when he came to Oscar he stopped and stared. I went up to him to see if I could help.
He looked very solid and sturdy—just like Oscar. “Is this dog taken?” he asked.
“No, not yet “ I answered. Wanting to be honest and not hide any information about Oscar, I decided to explain, “He is a very powerful dog and strains at the leash.”
“That sounds like just the dog for me,” nodded the young man, warming to Oscar.
After completing the adoption procedure, he took Oscar outdoors on a leash to his car. As they pulled each other in zigzags across the grass, he kept exclaiming, “I love it, I love it!”
So Oscar found a new home with that young man. The very thing which at first seemed Oscar’s worst trait—that is, his strength—was just what his new master especially liked in him.
Whether we need a home for ourselves or for another, we can find that home, with love. And isn’t that what home is really all about—loving? The proof is that when we feel love, we feel quite at home.
Reprinted by permission from the Christian Science Sentinel.C.1989 The Christian Science Publishing Society. All rights reserved.