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  • Reverend James Squire

How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?

How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? was a best-selling song By Patti Page in 1953. What is it about dogs and windows? It doesn’t matter which home was our residence, our dogs managed to find a perch to view what was going on outside. It is the same with two of my sons who own dogs that look for ways to view the world whether on a window seat or up on a piece of furniture to allow them to get a view.

I really didn’t think about it at the time, but we looked at many places to buy a home after retiring from EA, the last was on a Saturday afternoon. We left the day after we saw it and flew to Key West. Our real estate agent who was great called me on Monday morning and said, “Remember that house that you saw that you liked? (I did go back in to see it a second time?) If you want to get in, you better go in hard as 18 other people are bidding on it.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the homes we looked at blended together. I couldn’t remember it, but said, “Go ahead!” I did remember that it was on a large piece of property which was requirement #1 to give Sadie the Wonder Dog ample room to run around. Labs are high energy. So, we bought the home from Key West based on the dog’s needs. When we returned, I said, “We better look at what we bought!”

The home has a lot of windows from Sadie’s height to a foot from the ceiling. This was dog heaven. She could dash from one window to the next to act like the Lord of the Manor, always vigilant. The storm door at the front door is all glass which is where she watches all the dogs being walked. One of the trash men throws her a biscuit when he drives by. She sits on the rolling front lawn to get it. She is there any time she hears his truck. There is an underground electric fence around the whole property to keep her safe. We have three quasi adopted little girls as neighbors who come to visit. They know exactly where that electric fence is and walk right up to it. Sadie likes to greet them with the standard lab greeting which is a little much so they wait for her to calm down before getting to the house.

I never would have thought that windows could make such a transformative improvement in a dog’s life. The windows are a symbol. They are the vehicle by which she can see the world around her. She can’t be, in the picture, of what she can’t see. She reminds me of the importance for each of us to have a vision bigger than those comfortable areas where we are too comfortable or too indifferent in our homes. There used to be a saying that related to the ministry of churches to stay away from a church that doesn’t shake things up a bit. It is referring to “the comfortable pew.”

There is a dark uncomfortable side to looking out windows in a neighborhood. The Number one requirement for the election of mayor in Philly was to stop shootings in neighborhoods. When those neighbors look out windows, they see the possibility of a shooting. It is a living hell for them. You can’t be what you can’t see. Many Philly neighborhoods yearn to see a safe street. If they looked out through my windows, they would see an idyllic site. I and others need to see better what our neighbors in Philly see. It’s called engaged empathy.

Back to Sadie! I used to think that I was dog owner of the year until I met my match. One of my former students posted a front door on Facebook that he had just hung with an explanation because, as you know, some front doors have glass windows at the top of them. He hung the door upside down so that his dog could look out.

You can’t be what you can’t see! Without a vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18) We need to be reminded that it is critical that we leave the comfort of our homes, to engage that world that is a requirement to making the world a better place. We need to know more fully what our Philly neighbors look out and see, places where shootings have become too common in certain neighborhoods.

But there is more. Here is how the refrain goes for that song!

How much is that doggie in the window?

The one with the waggly tail

How much is that doggie in the window?

I do hope that doggie’s for sale.

I receive more joy from Sadie than I could ever provide for her!

Is there anything in your and my life that is not for sale? I have often said, “We are all paying a price? Is it worth it? Is it preparing us to love?

But that “sale” question is a bit different? It is, at one level, harder. We need windows! We need a vision! We need to know the price we are paying and whether the answer is worth it.

Is there something in your life or my life that is of such value that has too high a price to sell to another? Name it! It is sometimes phrased as, “What are you willing to die for?” Usually my students would say, “My family!” But It’s a question that stops them in their tracks as it should for the rest of us.

When you think about it, this is a question that Biden and McCarthy are “playing with” regarding the controversy of raising the debt ceiling. Economic tragedy for our nation and the world or…

I think of John McCain. He had to parachute from his plane during the Vietnam War and broke both arms and legs and then was mercilessly punished at a Vietnamese prison camp. How great freedom would have tasted! He was offered his freedom, but that was too high a price to pay to give up his loyalty to his brothers in arms.

We are faced with the question of what is too high for you to sell each day with an answer given by Zelensky and the Ukrainian people, our nation, our land.

It strikes me that our armed forces, veterans, first responders, police, firefighters, and others have answered the question. What about the rest of us? Is anything not for sale?

I wonder how much that woman in the song was willing to pay to get that doggie in the window? No one who listens to the song thinks that perhaps the dog wasn’t for sale for a price she was willing to pay.

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