Learning about God from my dog.

God uses nature to show us who He is. It’s everywhere in Scripture.

And so, I’ve noticed that my dog’s relationship with me is an allegory of my relationship with God.

016I am to Elsie as God is to me.

I love this dog, hugely. I trained her from a puppy. She’s resolutely loyal to me, unflinchingly part of my pack. So are my wife’s cats, but some of that remains confusing.

Despite any kind of poor behavior Elsie exhibits, I understand. I might have been able to help her avoid problems if she’d have asked me first. Like the kitty toy she shredded. I would have said no, it’s not yours. Don’t play with that. But the toy was ruined and there are consequences. My wife is mad, and the cats are disdainful.

If there are ‘accidents’ — my heart breaks to see her so upset. She knows she’s had a problem. She’s afraid and ashamed, confused. Guilt shows in her gait — her tail is down.  Her eyes are averted, her ears lowered, she lies down to cower.

But I already knew there would be accidents. I planned ahead for them. I’ve made provision to cover them up. My plan was made before I got her as a pup. So, with a kind and gentle voice I comfort her and clean up each mess. I give her a treat, reassuring her. I restore her confidence and joy and sense of belonging.

If she’s disobedient? Like darting out into the street to enjoy sniffing some road kill (going after dead things) — I see her from the yard and I’m upset! I call to her. Plead with her to return to the safety inside our gate. My heart breaks that she’s at risk. But she dwells on, and now a car is coming! Her life is in danger and she’s unaware of it. That dead thing is so all-consuming. It’s her choice. Will she break it off and come home?

Her ball is her job. She loves doing the thing with the ball. It gives her a purpose and retrieving the ball is good for her – physically and emotionally. Ball time comes between meal times. And those are interspersed with naps in the sun or on the couch. When the ball is lost, things are out of balance. She want’s me to help her find her ball. So we go walking around in the yard, right back to where we were before, where she left her ball. And when she finds it! She’s so proud and happy!

Elsie is content to follow me everywhere. On chores around the property, on rides in the car and walks on the beach. She is never more than a few feet from  where I’m at. I love that she’s there, that she’s interested in what I’m up to, that sometimes she has questions and expresses her opinions. She never looses interest.  Once in a while other dogs distract her and she forgets what’s important. She Chases. Barking loudly, and teeth bared! So I intervene. I command the good things she knows she’s supposed to do. I’m steady with the command, unwavering, firm in my assertion that to “Sit, stay and be quiet” is right. She knows it too. So she does so. And when she does, everyone is amazed. “What a good doggie!” Compliments flow, petting and recognition and encouragement … sometimes even little pocket treats.

Though barking at the mailman brings a disciplining tone from me, she simply can’t resist. The door bell too. She’s taken it as part of her job to let me know what’s happening – As if I’m unaware. I wish she’d stop, but I’m really grateful that she’s paying attention. I’m really blessed she cares and is concerned for me.

Elsie is to me, like I am to God.

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