There is great wisdom to be found in the company of dogs. Do not be deceived by their easy going ways. Or for that matter by their charming persuasion. God often reveals himself in the mundane. Or the Great Dane.
To those who have eyes to see, these canine counterparts hold much wisdom. Quite honestly, some of the greatest wisdom, therapy and comfort I have received has been in the wordless exchanges with my very own “Man’s Best Friend”.
I remember when our daughter began her full assault on us in acquisition of thus said dog. I remember my fears, having grown up in the company of cats; to this day still in the company of them. I only had one dog, growing up; a stray I hid in the garage at the apartment duplex we lived. My mother was quite surprised when the landlord inquired about our new dog, which she knew nothing about. I fed that pup potato sticks and hot dogs when I exhausted my meager allowance for dog food unbeknownst to my unsuspecting mom. That sweet dog who I named “Friend” went off to the pound promptly and I swore off dogs forever in an attempt to quench the heartache I felt. Her memory remains with my guilt ridden mother and I to this day. I’m not sure what happened to her.
I didn’t trust dogs, either. I understand cats. They are independent. Predictable in their unpredictability. I get cats. They are aloof, and affectionate on their own terms. I can handle that. But dogs always seemed…needy. Not just “needy”, but dependently needy. Unappealing to me. I am selfish, thank you. Cleaning cat litter is as sacrificial as I wanted to get.
But, the Queen of Everything spoke and my husband sided with her in memory of his own dog. Two against one. Unfair. I knew this would impact me more than either of these two idealistic beings. I knew who would be on diaper duty. That would be me. I shuddered at the thought.
We looked, and sought and eventually found the dog who would become our very own fur family member.
The decision making process fell more heavily on me as time went on as I visualized what this new family member’s presence would entail.
Having inherited the “Eeyore” gene from my mom (this is a bit of a family joke and yes, she knows!), I began imagining in my mind potential catastrophes based on various choice outcomes. I considered a small dog and was told they were yappy and snappy. I envisioned walking the yappy small dog in our then rural, backwoods area and imagined Coyotes or Fisher Cats springing out at us in the dusk and early hours. I pictured the two neighboring giant Rottweilers chewing the little dog at the end of my leash down to collar as I screamed uncontrollably. I dreamed of the wee lad dashing in front of a car, crushed under a tire, on one of the hilly, sharp cornered roads that surrounded our community. The large breed frightened me too. I visualized my daughter crushed by the behemoth sized dog, while she slept. I pictured us walking peacefully and again approached by loose dogs, caught between hundred pound bodies of angry, thrashing beasts.
Then we saw our medium sized “beast to be”. There was nothing so wonderfully appealing about him, except his eyes looked woefully in need of a home. The rescue told us he would be a good family dog. So this is how he came to us. This would be the beginning of our terms, in my mind. We provide a safe place for you, you be a safe dog for our girl. Simple enough. I brush my hands off and smile. Check off dog from list of things acquired for Queen of Everything.
I did not suspect there would be wisdom to glean from this mangy mutt. But therein lies the beauty and providence of God. He uses everything to reveal Himself and draw us closer to His Truth, for those who have eyes to see. Perhaps we need to take a look from our dog Banjo’s perspective.
The Tail Wagging Truth
Those brown, unwavering eyes blink lovingly at me day after day. I seem unable to do anything wrong in the sight of this sweet mutt. You see I am the giver of good things in his eyes. He receives and expects only good things from me. Biscuits, water, food, walks, and all sorts of mouth watering scraps. Good things are all he sees when he sees me. It’s obvious when I look in his eyes.
There is something I long to grasp in this tail wagging truth. Something for me to learn from his eager anticipation of good from me. There is a spiritual biscuit to be gained here.
My God is the Giver of Good Things. So often I anticipate bad from His hand. So frequently I am waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me instead of anticipating the net that catches my fall. Instead of anticipating good when he takes something away I suspect he is going to give me something less than. Something bad. I ask for good, and anticipate bad. Talk about double-mindedness. Why do I expect snakes instead of fish? Why?
When I call, that dog gets up and comes. Why? I am the giver of good things.
There is no doubt. No hesitation.
He comes expecting good things because he trusts and believes in me.
Obviously, I am not God. I fail. Yet Banjo’s love, trust and positive expectation of me does not waver. He continues to look at me with brown eyes blinking full of love. That look says that I am the tastiest, meatiest, best bone he has ever laid his doggy eyes on. His love is possessive and jealous. He still growls when my husband kisses me goodbye. He does not like anyone else near his favorite bone after all.
God’s love never fails. Ever. He is jealous of anything that might deter me from His best for me. Unlike Banjo, God does not need anything from me. He loves me unconditionally, un-waveringly and with completely pure intentions.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I’m still learning to trust the God who is trustworthy, faithful and true. Even Banjo would have to conclude, compared to God, I’m less than a Milkbone dog biscuit crumb compared to the choicest, most satisfyingly meaty bone and so much more worthy of devotion. I suppose that is the tail wagging truth. At least perhaps the dog-eyed view.