Forthright Magazine

Love and boundaries

“My daughter spent $8,000 on that dog. We loved her.” Those were words I heard regarding a stray animal that recently came into my possession. A person claiming to be the former owner saw the ad I had posted, and wanted a “second chance” after she had given or sold the untrained pet. While I couldn’t afford to buy sushi for myself very often, it was impressive that they used to feed it to Chloe. 

When Chloe was found, her ribs were showing from severe malnutrition, and she had parasites and exhaustion. The vet we took her to inform us that she was not spayed; in fact, she was in her fertile cycle. The former owners clearly had neglected her. 

Sad to say, Chloe wasn’t leash trained nor even housebroken during her approximate two and a half years of life. This was odd, given that she seemed very intelligent and trainable. 

We proceeded to give her the love and care and training she desperately needed, but sadly that did not involve yummy human treats from our plates. Her tummy and GI tract were already too compromised to cater to her wish for cheeses, no matter how pleadingly she would gaze at us with those soulful mismatched eyes. 

That was tough. Not just for Chloe, but for us! Giving love isn’t always giving what is wanted. Rather, it is often giving what is NEEDED. Chloe clearly needed love, not cheese or sushi. The vet said she suspected that she was neglected before she was even lost or abandoned, judging from her general condition and that she had likely lost 33% of her body weight. So we committed to making room in our hearts and our home … and even our beloved yard and gardens … until she could get the necessary surgery. Many friends helped in so many ways!

Since Chloe is a purebred Siberian Husky, her value to those who would breed puppies was based on what she could do for them, possibly at the risk of her health. It was our responsibility to give her a home, or find one, that could value her for her doggie self, while at the same time providing care.

We understand this with children, at least if we have been educated by the Scriptures. We don’t raise children because of what they can do for us. We provide some freedom but clear boundaries and constraints. We do not do this to exercise control (those of us with children already know how NOT fun this is), but because we are protecting them, out of love. 

Pornography in schools? Do we give them access to it because they may enjoy it? NO! We protect them from this scourge by being vigilant about the books being used by public schools. 

Partying with the cool kids? Of course not! Deaths by fentanyl laced drugs are becoming tragically commonplace. 

There are many more grey areas in raising children, just as there are places I might allow Chloe on the leash, even though I would rather not. But I did not allow her to eat that strange mushroom under the redbud tree. I did wonder what on earth she had been feeding herself since her former owners had adopted her three months ago. 

True love and care includes discipline and boundaries; and children — even our “fur babies,” — are happier with them. 

Jesus demonstrated true love. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13, NKJV).  We need to respect the boundaries he has set for us. He is not just here to toss us some sushi. 



Christine Berglund
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