December 13, 2023Animal Lessons - Love

Children’s book creators love to use animals to tell their stories. It’s because the natural world speaks about the Creator and those who are wise enough to watch and listen to the natural world can learn a lot about how life should be lived. We plan our goals for an upcoming new year, and one of those goals is to do a better job of loving our families and friends, because we’re seldom satisfied with how we did that last year.

Christmas is all about how God sent His Son to die for us, thus demonstrating His love for us. Then He commanded us to love each other sacrificially the exact same way. Many of us have a hard time picturing what that should look like on a practical, daily-life level, so He gave us a picture to look at … dogs!!

I’ve heard people say, that “dog” is God spelled backwards, thus giving a little hint about what dogs are like. Initially my reaction was, Well, that’s a bit of sacrilege! But after owning dogs, I whole-heartedly agree!

Dogs know the secret … joy comes first.

The world lies seductively to us. It tells us that we’ll find fulfillment when we have the right job, when we’re in the right relationships, when we get the clicks and the acclaim, when people notice us, when we have money, when we have the house, the car, the body, when we’re free of responsibilities and obligations … then we’ve arrived and we’re happy, and then we’ll count and then we’ll have joy.

That’s backwards. Embrace the joy of being alive first, then live it out through your vocation, your relationships with family, friends and society. Maybe you’ll manage to accumulate all the other stuff, too, and that’s great. We need stuff to make life work. But that’s about all it’s really good for. It’s all temporary and will turn to dust. Focus on the eternal, permanent things … relationships, love, the joy of being alive!

Dogs know … we all count simply because we exist.

Dogs have such enthusiasm for life, so we are naturally drawn to them and connect to them, so dogs are seldom lonely and isolated. If you are the companion of a dog, you are blessed indeed!

You will always be greeted with enthusiasm and warmth, whether you’ve been separated for five minutes or five months. If you make a mistake, you will be forgiven swiftly and freely. Tomorrow – or maybe ten seconds from now – the slight will have been long forgotten.

They’ll tolerate the days when you just want to be a couch potato. They will lay by the couch patiently and never complain about what you’re watching or tell you how horrifically bored they are.

The whole reason you’re on that couch is because life and work are so suffocating lately. And there’s this new episode that you missed over 2 weeks ago, but since it’s been over 2 weeks, what the heck, let’s just binge watch the whole last season!!

Maybe it will only be out of obligation that you’ll finally rise up off that couch and grab a leash, but watch that pup come alive and learn from his zest for life. After a brief spell of fresh air and sunshine, and moving those stiff muscles, the brain fog will clear a bit and you might find yourself whistling a tune and feeling a little zesty yourself.

Rinse and repeat. Drop the leash and bring a tennis ball. Get off the sidewalk and head down a path through the woods. Twenty-thirty minutes a day invested will reap huge rewards.

When you get back home, your job may not be any less crummy, dirty dishes are still waiting and the rent still needs to get paid. But now, more than even that comfy couch, those dirty dishes are calling your name. Thirty minutes later and the kitchen is clean! Now write that rent check. Tomorrow when you go walking, you can swing by to drop it off.

The next day you’ll be back at your crummy job, but it’s not so bad. Your brain’s all free and clear, because the chores that normally nag at you are all done! You’re a little lighter and a little more relaxed.

Your co-workers notice the change. After work, your family and friends notice the change. You’re more fun to be around. You’ve noticed the change in yourself, too. Even you like you more! And suddenly, you’re less lonely, more connected and feeling more fulfilled and alive.

Because now you know what your dog knows … joy comes first.

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  • Dixie Cooley says:
    2023-12-13, 11:41:23
    Love it!
    Thanks, Dixie!- Sherry A Mitcham
  • BILL says:
    2023-12-13, 11:25:51
    Ho, ho, ho! I mean, Arf, arf, arf!!- Sherry A Mitcham
  • kathy McDonell says:
    2023-12-13, 08:57:07
    Beautifully written! God made animals first, I guess so we are greeted by that boundless bundle of joy! (Even cats do it, tho I think they are a bit like humans who think they are "in charge" of God's universe!) Help us, Lord, to be more like dogs, enjoying what You have created and not like the felines who feel everything is theirs and well-deserved. (And, I do LOVE cats....)
    I miss my happy Chloe!!!- Sherry A Mitcham