What I Learned from My Dogs

mocha-dogI have three dogs.  I truly believe they lay awake at night scheming of ways to drive me crazy.  Yet I love them very much.

Cappaccino is a catahoula/whippet mix.  Veterinarians have not diagnosed ADHD in dogs, but maybe they haven’t met Ccino yet.  In his younger days, he could jump an 8 foot fence.  He terrified our neighbors by jumping on the fence and barking at them whenever they stepped out their back door.  We’ve replaced our wood picket fence many times over because his jumping popped the boards out.  And if he wasn’t obnoxious enough on our side of the fence, he was even worse on their side.  Now, he’s 12.  He’s mostly retired from jumping, and when he does he limps for the rest of the day.  I tell him he’s going to break a hip.

Java is a beagle/lab mix.   As sweet as the day is long, but not very compliant.  If you want him to go left, he’ll go right.  I used to say he was oxygen deprived at birth and not very bright as a result, but then I realized he was just plain old stubborn.  He knows exactly what I want; he just doesn’t want to do it.  He has the characteristic lab traits, digging and chewing.  Our yard looks like a bomb test site from all the potholes he’s dug.  He also has the characteristic beagle traits, howling and deathly afraid of loud noises.  At 11, he has a bad heart and is easily confused outside of our familiar surroundings.  He has gotten lost just across the street from our house.

Mocha Latte is a chow/shepherd mix.  She is also as sweet as honey, but a bit of a dumb blonde.  Like most shepherds, she is skittish, but even more so.  If you cough behind her, she just about faints.  If you come in the back gate, she barks…from the other side of the house.  She looks mean with her chow body, but I’m afraid she’d run me down getting out of the way before she’d protect me.  And when she sheds, you could lose small children in the fur balls.  Think desert tumbleweeds. She’s 10, and by far the healthiest of the bunch.  Her primary bad habit is chewing…wood, chain link, whatever stands in her way.

My dogs have always thought of our large backyard as a prison, and like most captives they look for ways to escape.  I mentioned that Ccino broke the boards on the fence with a karate kick.  Well, Mocha chews through the boards.  Once she even tore up a chain link fence to get out.  Loose boards can be nailed back in, but splintered boards are another story.  Sure, they can be replaced, unless they are on the gate.  Then, the gate has to be rebuilt.  Can you imagine my husband’s delight to rebuild the gate every few months?

Now, you might be asking what I learn from such a mangy bunch of misfits.  Well, I learned that I’m just like them.  Leave it to me to be obnoxious to neighbors who mean me no harm.  Or tear up things the Lord has given me for comfort.  And even break through the safeguards God put in my life to protect me.  When Ccino barks at the neighbors, I’m afraid of what they say about me.  Every time Java tears up a blanket that I gave him to keep him warm, I fuss at him.  When Mocha chews through the fence and they all run away, I wonder why they don’t appreciate the safe and comfortable yard I’ve given them.  Why do they want to risk getting hit by a car or lost?  Java has been lost twice in the last two months.  He nearly starved and froze to death and probably shortened his already short life by missing several days of medication.

Why can’t they just behave and mind?  Why can’t I?  For a dog, or at least my dogs, they yearn to run and explore.  When they were younger, and I had more free time, I would walk them often.  But always on a leash to protect them.  That wasn’t enough.  They still felt bound.  Their very dog nature tells them to run.  In the same way, my sin nature tells me to be independent.  I don’t see the gate as God’s protection, but as a roadblock.  I’m not grateful for the good things in my life.  I want to tear them up so I can get something else.  I don’t look at strangers as potential friends, but as probable enemies.

When will my dogs get it through their thick skull that they have a good life and stop searching for greener grass?  When will I?

Will I ever stop loving them despite their complete and utter disregard for my care?  Never.  Will God stop loving me for the same disregard?  Never.


2011 update: All three dogs died peacefully within a year of each other.  I miss them terribly.  My husband, not so much.

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