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Lessons from your dog

Faith & Inspiration

People who want to live the Christian life of “love one another” would do well to observe their pets. I do not wish to trivialize the Bible here, nor to sound like one of those women who has eight cats and talks to them. But God employed animals to teach elementary deportment lessons, so I feel I am in good company in making this suggestion. To the highly self-opinionated pagan Balaam, God spoke through a donkey, who reasoned with the errant prophet about the tendencies of beasts of burden. To the sluggard going nowhere with his life, God recommended a tutorial studying the industry and productivity of ants.

Your dog doesn’t judge you; that’s perhaps the best thing of all. Other people may not be as adept at giving the benefit of the doubt regarding your occasional curious actions, but no suspicion of moral lapse clouds your spaniel’s mind as you scarf down an extra slice of pie, or walk through the door with a six-pack of beer (for making beer-battered chicken nuggets, perhaps).

As to walking through the door, please note that your dog comes running to it from anywhere in the house when you get home. He is never too busy cooking in the kitchen, never too glued to the TV, never too proud, never too coddling of that morning’s grudge to be anything but excited to see you again.

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And what I noticed at my friend Heidi’s house this morning is that when your husky is desirous of going out for his morning constitution with you, he never plays mind games or prevaricates with little hints that, if you miss them, come attached to a punishment—a good sulking that could last for days. He walks right up to you in all his vulnerability and expecting the best of you, cranes his neck to look guilelessly into your eyes with his own clear blue pools, and makes his heart very clear. If you tell him it’s not the right time (though it is hard to resist such tender entreaty, whether of woman or beast!), he is disappointed but loves you just as much the next hour when you finally get around to him.

Has it not struck you as amazing that people sulk and dispense “silent treatments” but collies do not? I don’t say dogs don’t get sad or bear scars from past abuse. But their past abuse is always real and not imagined, never the overreactions to mainly innocent comments. And, in general, I find dogs to be free of the vicissitudes of mood that make Homo sapiens walk on eggshells around each other lest we trip on landmines unawares.

Jesus said to learn a lesson from the fig tree. I believe He wants me to emulate these concrete behaviors from my pet:

  • Love at all times.
  • Come to the door looking friendly when my husband gets home from work.
  • Forget the argument of the morning.
  • Do not let my first impulse be judgmental and critiquing.
  • Do not play head games but communicate plainly.
  • Be demonstrative and physical in comfort.

It may well be a reason why God made dogs.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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