God Teaches Me Through My Dog

Everyone who knows me, knows that I am totally, completely, undeniably horse crazy!! I don't have one of my own (yet) because it wouldn't fit in the RV. However, I have another passion, my dog Hunter.
I'm so thankful for my happy boy

This is my boy Hunter. He is blind, but doesn't let that stop him! He is super sweet, and honestly believes that he is a ten pound lap dog. (He is actually eighty five pounds!) One of Hunters favorite foods is ice cubes, *although he would eat anything you gave him! We rescued him six years ago, so we don't know exactly how old he is, but we estimate around nine or ten years old. He is a yellow American lab.

As wonderful as Hunter is, he has some pretty silly fears. For example the smoke detector. Smoke detectors save lives and yet the loud screeching sound scares hunter out of his skin! Another instance is fireworks. I can imagine to a blind dog loud explosions would be a little unnerving! As these things occur, I sit uncomfortably on the floor with my shaking, terrified dog. My heart aches for the pain and fear he is experiencing, so I reassure him. Speaking softly I say things like, "Don't worry my love. I know this seems scary but it won't hurt you. I'm here, it's okay. I know you don't understand right now but I do. You just have to trust me. It's going to be okay."

Cue the still small voice in my soul. It starts to speak and as my world warps into silence, I listen. It dawns on me that God was speaking to me, through me! I realized that what I was telling my dog was exactly what God tells me to do. As a flawed human, I can't see God's whole plan for my life, so I tend to feel small in the face of obstacles and problems. Just like Hunter, I can't see the big picture. But God can. He reminds me that this seems scary yes. But I am going to be okay! I just have to trust him. Romans 8:28 says, "and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."

Another way Hunter has surprised me is his courage and trust in humans. Sometimes I joke that I am my dogs seeing eye person. When I take him for walks (or maybe its vice versa) he acts as though he can see everything and pulls me ahead. He is normally good about walking by other dogs** unless they are little dogs. Since little dogs run around so quickly, Hunter can not keep track of them. Thus starts the frantic, I want to play but cant see where you are STOP MOVING bark. Other dog owners interpret this as a mean bark and are often intimidated. One time at a dog beach Hunter wanted to play so bad that he picked up a little wiener dog in his mouth. Now for all you freaking out right now, my dog is the sweetest thing in the world. Let me put you at ease, the dog was totally fine, just a little stunned. As was Hunter, he had no plan beyond finding a friend to play. The owner on the other hand was not very happy. We quickly assured her this was an innocent act, but she still fled. We received the stink eye during her whole departure. Hunter's blind trust (see what I did there??) is a constant reminder and encouragement for me everyday.



I've been thinking a lot about boundaries lately. One time while I was observing Hunter, I realized, to a point, he understands what boundaries are. Every time we leash him up to go outside, we have him sit. It is a good habit for him to have. As it shows respect and teaches him he is not allowed to go out unless he sits for his leash. Once he is leashed he stands up and waits at the door until he receives a verbal cue inviting him outside. Every now and then, our door is left open. Normally because someones hands were full and they couldn't close it behind them. My dog loves going outside more than anything in the world, but he understands that there is a boundary there. He knows that if he goes outside without being invited he will get in trouble. So he will stand at the door, very excited, hoping he gets to go outside, but will not until invited. When we got hunter we realized very quickly that if we did not train him to wait at doors he would run. Unfortunately we learned through experience, and now we have some of what we call "Hunter Houdini" escape stories. Knowing it would be even more dangerous for a blind dog to run we had to establish that rule right away.

Another thing I've seen in Hunter is a desire to be with people. He is quite the extrovert. Hunter loves everyone, all the time. If there are people around he will move heaven and earth to get to them. Hunter is quite the cuddly dog, which I love. Due to him being blind, he relies on touch to know whats around him. When we have a potluck or a fire outside the camper, Hunter hears the company and gets distressed he can not join the party. This is another way I see my own reflection in him. God designed us with a need for community and relationships. We were not meant to go through life alone. A true friendship or relationship that is rooted in God is one of the most rewarding things in life. As much as I value my quiet time, I'd say I'm an extrovert. I've always loved seeing my friends and making new ones. Most of the time we just do pointless teen stuff like playing 20 games of chess in a row but I love it. I'm so thankful that God has blessed me with the friends I have. I learn new things from them all the time and I see God working on me through them. That being said, I used to take my friends for granted. All of my friends families and mine met up at a campground this January. We had all known this was going to happen months beforehand and anxiously looked forward to our time together. Then I got really sick. I have had asthma since I was little, but it is only ever a problem when I'm sick. So when I came down with Pneumonia, I could not move, talk or see anyone. I was sick for three weeks. Now I know that doesn't sound like a long time, but it was an eternity to me. I had not seen some of these friends in over six months and I couldn't believe I was going to have to miss out. Each day was a battle. I was tired and weak from being sick, and frustrated I couldn't see anyone. Everyday I would watch my friends hanging out. I'll be honest, it really sucked. I felt hurt, not at anyone in particular, but like I was being cheated out of something I had looked forward to. I had to choose to first, stop watching, it wasn't making me feel any better, and second focus on what I could be thankful for. I had so many things to be thankful for even in a situation I hated. I was alive. I had a family helping me with anything I needed. My friends texted me everyday to see how I was. One of my friends baked me cookies. I was loved and thought of, even when I wasn't around. After I got better I was weak for a while. I spent more time resting than usual. During that time I did a lot of reflecting. I felt hyper aware to everything that was happening around me. This was when I had a lot of time to hangout with Hunter. He kept me company all through my illness and afterward. God teaches us life lessons through all different avenues. Lately for me it has been through my dog. I'd love to hear how you see God in the world around you! Leave a comment below and tell me!



*Except for leafy greens, I think the texture and lack of taste caused his disinterest in these veggies.
** However a while back, we were walking through the RV park and Hunter started totally barking and freaking out. Hearing another dog barking also, I told hunter to try to pretend to be social and kept walking. However, As I scanned the nearby sites, My eyes revealed the most hilarious thing. My silly dog was not barking at another dog, but at a bird!! This bird was pacing back and forth in a cage guarding the outside of his RV. When he saw us walk by he made barking noises which totally set Hunter off.

Comments

  1. Madison, I love this. You've done a wonderful job of finding beautiful lessons in the ordinary and that takes true insightful intention. Thank you for not only being wiling to look for the lessons, but to share them with us as your readers. Keep up the good work, you are helping all of us to see the world through a new lens!

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    1. Thank you so much! As a Christian blogger I have a passion to share what the Lord is doing in my life. It's always encouraging to hear when others understand and enjoy my work. I'm very thankful the Lord has allowed me to experience and understand all these small lessons.

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