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  • Writer's pictureshelisloterbeek

Lessons from God through the Dog

This dog. I blame him on my mother. She sent an enormous bag of beads to my daughter that needed a case, so of course we made our way to the craft store. That just happened to be next to a pet store. That just happened to be having a rescue adoption outside. Still healing from our fostering experience (of a person, not a dog) we, or perhaps I should say "I", thought we could all use a new dog.

After walking the dog I sat down with him. I told my husband "if he licks me it's a sign we should take him." I looked that dog in his big brown and black eyes and of course he licked my cheek. He licks everything. So we brought him home.

He's got some extra skin around his face. He even had an eyelid repair done, but other than that he looked pretty good. What we didn't know is that he had some emotional issues, but don't we all?

The following is what I learn when I SEE my dog:

1. He's not defined by what he does

I know lots of dogs have jobs, rescue dogs, seeing eye dogs, therapy dogs, police dogs etc... but some dogs don't, or it looks different, and that's okay. While Duke has no "regular" job he finds his purpose in being my companion and constant, on-guard lookout. And he's good with this. Any more "job" and well, he just wouldn't handle it. He's not defined by what he does.

2. He's okay being himself

He doesn't try to be something he's not. It's not that he can't change with time and treats (of course), but he can't pretend or put a mask on to impress me. He's not doing things that he thinks will impress me.

3. He lets his emotions show

Undiagnosed, but this dog has an emotional flow. His emotional level is somewhere between depressed and anxious most of the time. When he first came to our home and we said "no" in a firm way he would put his tail between his legs and slink off to the bedroom and lay down. After awhile we would go find him and speak words of encouragement to coax him back out into the room with us. He's grown with us and he doesn't do this any longer, but his emotional sensitivity is something he's learned to cope and grow with as he's lived here loved.

4. He can just BE

If he needs to rest, he rests. If he wants to be mopey, he is. If he wants to revel in creation he zooms around the yard and rolls onto his back and rubs his back in the grass. Pure joy!

But mostly he's content to just sit and be with me. If I'm in the kitchen, he's there laying down. If I'm sitting on the couch, he's there next to me or by my feet. Being. Presence. It's his gift to me.

I see the beauty and the goodness of God in the creation that is this dog. God shows me myself through this four-pawed creature. The vulnerability it takes to be fully loved. Whole. Present. Free.

What do you see around you that reflects God through his creation? How do you see yourself in it? How does the realization prompt you to respond?

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