It had been an especially challenging day with the Jack Russell Terror. My husband and I had a halfway serious discussion about shooting him. (I was the one who was halfway; Hubby would have shot him long ago!)

Then we got The Call. It was a call that I know my husband is always waiting for: one of the Men in the Family needed his help. He had been trapping some pesky coons that have been winning the Human-Critter Battle all summer, and since he lives In Town (population 600, max), he didn’t have a way to dispose of them. Enter Hubby, and his handy-dandy every-farmer-needs-one rifle.

The halfway serious discussion came up again.

“It’s your call.” He had his work coat on, gloves ready on the table, rifle laid out flat and waiting.

“Well.” I admit it: I was tempted. I still am. The dog is whining at the door, knowing Something is up. He can probably smell the coons from here. He’s a good critter dog, and I hate that there’s fondness in my heart for him, because it’s been such a tough day.

I can’t get past, though, the game of playing God. We do it so much in our culture. No, I don’t really think it’s a big deal with my dog, though I have known people who would think it’s a bigger deal with my dog than it is with that unborn baby a few miles away. In fact, I used to be one of those people, though my agricultural roots kept me from swinging too far into PETA’s camp.

How could I consider shooting my pet, who’s part of my family? Would I do that to my daughter? (Some days, it’s probably better not to ask that question!) Would I do that to my husband? (Honestly, no. The man’s a saint. Really – he’s the one who needs a support group, being married to me!) Would I shoot my friends? (Wellllllllll…) So how can I consider shooting my pet?

You might notice a difference between my pet and all the other options on that list. My pet is not human. He might live in the same house, and on a lucky night, sleep in the same bed, as I do. He might eat the same food and he might be willing to die to protect us.

And yes, today, I would play God and shoot him.

See how un-God-like I am? All those years of sinning and committing every last one of the seven deadly sins – some twice – and God forgave me. That long list of failings I have – the things I have done and the things I have failed to do – and God continues to forgive me.

See how badly I play God? My experience with God has been mostly forgiveness and healing repentance, not just rewards for my barking and whining and pooping in hidden corners. I have become a better person (I hope!) by trying to get closer to God through prayer and devotion; I fall short far more often than I hit the mark, yet God accepts the person I am and challenges me to keep trying.

This is how one person plays God with a dog. I can’t help but think about the babies who die every day because people play God, instead of turning to God for help. I can’t help but think about the many times I have “killed” my neighbor – the same one that last week’s Gospel exhorted me to love – through my foul thoughts or mean-spirited intentions. I can’t help but think about the reasons why I don’t deserve to be here, even as I feel grateful for the grace that allows me to keep puttering along.

We’ll have more challenging days with the JRT. And God will have more challenging days with me. Guess it’s the least he can do, and why not? After all, HE is the one who has to play God. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the responsibility’s off my shoulders!