Life Lessons from Dogs

If there is one word to describe me in this particular season of my life and the season in general, it is exhausted. 

Between work, the things that come with the Christmas season, fibromyalgia, and just life in general, it’s been hard to find time to catch my breath.

My joy lately has been this dog whom we recently welcomed into our family. He is a rescue dog who participated in a training program at a prison. He is my son’s Christmas gift and my son’s dog. He is pretty well behaved. In fact he is currently riding in his crate in the back of our Jeep, and I haven’t heard a peep from him.

There’s just one issue we are working through…

Quill is not sure if he wants to be friends with our geriatric chocolate lab Sadie. As we work through this with patience, love, and firmness in our expectations for behavior, there are some life lessons I can draw from my dogs.

1. Insecurity is a real thing and needs to be responded to with patience, reassurance, and love. I was on the floor petting Sadie the other night and Quill came up behind me and pulled on the bottom of my pants. You can call it jealousy, but I see it as insecurity. I am working with him to realize that I can pet and love them both…at the same time. We making progress in this area.

2. Dogs are so good for children. For children with ADHD. For adopted children. My son and his dog are learning to trust one another. Their bond continues to grow every day.

3. Dogs like people need consistency. People need to know what the expectations are.

4. Everyone wants to belong. Just as Quill is trying to find his place in our home, Sadie is trying to figure him out. She wanted to play tug with him the other day, but Quill wasn’t interested. Sadie and our little Franklin always played tug of war with their rope toy. Right now, we aim for small steps. My hope is that these two will be the best of friends in time. 

My last three dogs have been rescue dogs. While I don’t have any deep theological message in all this, I believe that God has sent these dogs into our lives for a purpose. In the words of a friend, there isn’t anything better than dog kisses after a long day. In some ways as I watch Quill adjust to his new life, I see flashbacks from our days of our son’s adjustment to his new life.

Just as we welcomed Quill and our son into our lives as they are, God welcomes us and loves us where we are. As we grow in our relationship with Him, we grow into the people He created us to be.

What life lessons have you learned from your own pets?

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Mysterious Ways

God works in mysterious ways. We hear people say this expression a lot, but sometimes you just have this moment in time when you know without a shadow of a doubt that God’s hand has touched your life.

This little guy is the center stage of one of those moments.

In 2007, our house was fairly quiet with a predictable routine. Our lives were calm with just my husband, daughter, and myself. We were anxiously awaiting the news of an adoption referral. In October of that year, this little white dog wandered into our yard as my husband was mowing. He made the mistake of telling me the pup had no tags, so I opened my front door. The little pup walked in through the door and into my heart. Over the next week, no one claimed him despite our efforts to find his home. My friend suggested the name Franklin since that was the street he was found on. The name fit. 

This little pup affectionately called Franklin turned our house upside down. Franklin’s crazy antics prepared us for our son. He flipped the predictable to the unpredictable. He helped me to be more spontaneous. He reminded me to not take everything so seriously. He prepared me to be a better mom to my son.

Yes, I believe God sent this pup into our lives as a gift to prepare us for the greater gift of our son who joined our family in March 2009.

Through the years, Franklin did crazy thing after crazy thing. He ate non-food items and stole more things off the kitchen counter and table than I can remember. I held that pup like a baby…he was my baby. We nursed him a year ago from a stage 2 wound back to health. Shortly after that, he developed diabetes and we began administering insulin shots twice daily. 

Two days ago, his health took a turn for the worse. We did everything we could for him to make him comfortable and help his situation, but he slipped away the next morning. He is no longer suffering.

My heart is sad. My house is quiet. But, my life has been enriched by the gift of a little white dog who wandered into our lives and into my heart.

God definitely knows what we need when we need it.