Christine Rhyner

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Has He Ever Eaten a Dog?
6/11/2013 12:00:01 AM by: Christine

     I’ve been asked this once, and while my son was a baby, so he never knew about it.

     In truth, I do not know whether many canines make their last appearance on platters at Vietnamese dinner tables. I have my suspicions. But what I do know is that worldwide there are all sorts of foods that other countries find repugnant.

     Here in the United States, where such a large percentage of our diets come from processed foods and items that are dyed and colored and whipped and who knows what all else in order to appeal to the eye, we get grossed out by other countries’ eating habits. In so many ways we are just so far removed from ingesting natural things we’d much rather drink down a concoction of fat, salt, sugar and msg than eat a bug. That is even if we were told in advance that the bug would do our bodies a lot more good than the other choice.

     I imagine there are quite a few countries that would find the French fry a grotesque, useless source of nutritional intake. Come to think of it, a lot of us Americans feel that way too, yet we eat them anyway.

     I know that I have read about Vietnamese dishes you wouldn’t find served to the average tourist such as snake hearts that beat while you eat and live fish, and felt a wave of revulsion at the images. Yet, watch any food show where the host travels around the world and samples what is served up in foreign lands and you soon realize that no matter how many McDonald’s they build, not everyone wants to enter the “golden arches” to fill their bellies.

     As a dog owner I could never imagine man’s best friend served over a dish of rice. And if served to me I would not touch dog. Yet, I observed incredible poverty in Vietnam. I saw children as young as three years-old out on the streets beg tourists for money. I also observed remote areas of countryside where you won’t find places like food pantries or a social services office where you can apply for food stamps with which to feed your family.

     But no, my baby did not sit around the orphanage “spit” while his caretakers lured stray dogs to the facility and roasted them up for supper.  As an infant he mostly drank formula, albeit with a high concentration of sugar in it. And when we offered to buy the orphanage what we thought they needed like baby chairs and toys, they asked if we would please provide them with cases of noodles, not litters of puppies.

     This question is crude and provocative. Since to eat a dog is so anathema to the average American, the question is highly suggestive that your child has come from a land of barbarians who have tainted him with the contents of a pit bull. Does your child therefore have a natural inclination toward barbarism and the slaying of defenseless puppies?

     It’s also a pretty stupid question in that a toothless baby would not be capable of eating such a thing anyway. Would this person have served his infant a steak?

     But I give grace to this person who made this comment. Maybe he heard that is what people do eat in Vietnam. I don’t want to be combative or defensive with someone who seems to want to get a rise out of me. The Bible says that “a gentle answer turns away wrath.”(Proverbs 15:1)

     When another person expects to irritate you a gentle answer can surprise him and not give him the satisfaction of you as an eager partner in his game.

     Though the question was meant to incite me I would not allow it to. I simply said, “No thank you, I brought his dinner.” But I do think that whenever you hear something like this you wonder about the motivation behind it. I felt as though my child was not accepted as part of the family since this came from a family member.  That troubling emotion has got to be the worst part of receiving of a crude, rude or stupid question or comment with regard to one’s baby or child.

     From the moment I saw a picture of my son’s face I bonded with him and though it may be difficult for some to imagine, loved him. For months before I ever held him I prayed for him and imagined only the best for him. In this regard for me I felt a little bit like I was pregnant. They say that adopted children grow in your heart, not your womb. It’s true.

     So, any hint of disapproval or lack of acceptance is tough. But as time has gone by, he has found acceptance not by my insistence that he receive it but because he has proven to be a smart, obedient, funny, gifted and much loved child. A lot of situations we just have to turn over to the God who loves our children more than we ever possibly could.

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