February 29, 2012

What I Learned About God From Playing With My Dog

Last September, we brought home a beautiful golden retriever puppy. 

Chloe at 9 weeks
Chloe was an adorable bundle of fur. Who bit. And jumped. And chewed. But I figured, golden retrievers are great dogs, right? She’ll learn. She’ll grow out of this in no time.

Fast forward 5 ½ months. Chloe is 7 months old. 

She's a lot bigger here...
She’s still an adorable bundle of fur. Who weights 50 pounds. And yep, you guessed it…she still bites and she still jumps and that’s right, folks, she still chews. Everything. In. Sight.

Sigh.

I’ve never owned a puppy before, so I didn’t really realize how much work they were. I know, I know, people told me they were a lot of work, but I didn’t realize it until she was here and I was at my wit’s end.

As soon as I get home, I’m tired. The last thing I want to do is deal with a jumping, biting, chewing puppy who can (and has!) knock me over with a thwack of her front paws hitting my chest. She gets so excited that she literally cannot contain her energy. She wiggles and jumps and springs and writhes and won’t. sit. still.

For awhile, I’d get angry. I’d yell. I’d tell her to sit (I’d kind of growl it, really). I’d grab her by the collar and throw her outside.*

Last week, I had a different idea. I grabbed her ball and threw it. She fetched it and brought it back to me. Over and over again, I threw and she retrieved. Her energy became focused on a game, and suddenly, she was the amazing dog I’d always pictured having. I thought, Yes! There’s hope!

All I had to do was pay attention to her instead of getting frustrated. Love on her. Listen to her inner cry of Spend time with me! Don’t you love me? (K, not sure dogs have insecurities, but roll with me, here.)

And then, it hit me.

I am just like my spastic, immature puppy.

I know I need something. I have so much anxiety and things inside me just bursting to get out, but it needs somewhere to go. It sometimes comes out like rants or complaints. Sometimes like tears. Other times like false joy in the wrong things, because I have to latch on to SOMETHING.

But if I can focus on the one activity I should be spending time doing, the one Person I should be spending time with, then I will blossom. Suddenly, I’ll run the straight and narrow, right after that ball, with all the intent focus of a sprinter running a race. I’ll grab that ball, bring it back to God’s feet, sit there, content and smiling, and stare up at Him, asking Him to affirm me and keep playing, keep spending time with me.

And the great, amazing thing about God?

He never gets frustrated. He never yells. He never gets angry when we jump all over, when we slobber a little, when we pout and moan and cry about life.

He just smiles, picks up a ball, and says—over and over again—“Come and spend time with me. We’ll work through those things together.”

Your Turn: Are you a dog person? Cat person? What has owning an animal taught you?

How can you not love this face?!
*For all of you animal lovers, please don’t hate me. I do love her…I just really didn’t know how to handle her! So glad that one week from today, she will begin obedience training!!
**Photos by my amazing mother-in-law, Nancy Harrel!

20 comments:

  1. I'm definitely a DOG person, and my 5 lb Yorkie (Sophie) teaches me a LOT: she offers unconditional love (like God) and has perpetual joy from simply being in the same room with me (like I should be with God).

    Hugs from VA!

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    1. Aw, I love that, Susan! Those are great truths.

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  2. Oh yeah, I'm just like a dog which also happens to mean I'm a dog person.

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    1. I definitely picture you as a dog person, even though I've never met you. (Though I am so looking forward to your debut vlog!)

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  3. She's so beautiful! Yep, that's the one thing dogs need...ATTENTION! Especially retrievers. They love to retrieve. Get it??

    She will retrieve that ball until her last dying breath. That's what she's bred to do. So throw that ball for her and she'll be a happy pup!

    I am a DOG person. I grew up with Goldens. Ours was named Jake and he was the BEST! They make great running partners too.

    Enjoy her! She'll be the most loyal friend you ever had.

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    1. Funny how I didn't really get that whole retriever thing, huh, Ruth? :P

      And I love the loyalty of dogs. There's something so amazing about it.

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  4. I have three dogs and a cat. They have all taught me that everything/one has a unique personality and everything/one must be handled in their own unique way.
    One of my dogs can't stand for anyone's voice to be raised- it doesn't matter who it is directed towards, it really upsets her. Another one is so stubborn that I usually am the one to give in!

    They all have taught me to take time to learn people. Learn their likes and dislikes, learn how they best communicate and learn to respond to their personalities. We are all unique and a one size fits all mentality will not work!

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    1. Wow, three dogs! I don't think my cat would ever forgive me. As it is, she's not too thrilled about one. Especially a puppy who doesn't realize (or doesn't care!) that she's 40 lbs heavier than my cat and tries to pounce on her and "play." Poor Bella.

      And I love the truths you've learned. So, so true about one size NOT fitting all!

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  5. I think you just described my 4-yr-old son, LOL. The only pet we own is a fish because I've got my hands full enough with my kids. Sounds like you're getting lots of practice for a future family, Lindsay. ;)

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    1. Yep, so I've heard, Sarah. So I've heard. ;)

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  6. What a beautiful dog, Lindsay.

    I had a dogs growing up but married a cat person. While I was skeptical when we got our first cat, I've been totally converted. We now have two long-haired, orange and white brothers who are both scaredy-cats, but we love them anyhow. And what I have learned? To travel with a lint brush. I wear a lot of black, and does that light-colored fur ever show up! :-)

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    1. I love my kitty. She's really cuddly and sweet. She even comes when I call her. She's more of a dog in that way. Ha. And yes, yes, yes, I'm HEARING you on the lint brush. Totally.

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  7. I adore dogs and yours is sooo pretty! And I love, love, love your connection to God and His endless ability to be patient with us!!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Melissa. I love dogs too, especially mine. I'm just looking forward to getting her trained. :D

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  8. I'm a dog AND cat person. (Currently the owner of one dog and two cats, but have always had at least one of each.) But my dog acts like a cat: she doesn't come when I call her; she looks at me like I'm crazy when I throw a ball for her to fetch... She is a treeing walker coonhound that we adopted a couple of years ago from a shelter and I had no idea how unusual they are. God's lesson in this for me is to have patience when something doesn't match up with my expectations! Your dog is a cutie pie!

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    1. That is a fabulous lesson to learn, Barb! I'm still working on that one... :P

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  9. What a cute dog!! and post. It's so true. My step-sis just got a retriever puppy and I warned her. lol
    I'm more of a cat person, only because the dog smell bothers me, otherwise I love them.

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    1. Thanks! And oh, yes, there is definitely a certain...odor...that comes with a dog. Ha.

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  10. What a beautiful dog! I am NOT a cat person...they are rather frightening in their cool, stalk-like persona. I got a mini-dachshund when he was 9 weeks old and he was--and is--a lot of work! Very active.

    I loved your analogy and it is so true. When we focus on the ONE thing, life falls into place. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Sherrinda! I'm a bit partial myself... :P

      I so often find myself unfocused on the One who can give me peace. It's so easy to do. And so hard to realize.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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